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Backstreet Boys never miss a beat

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Thirty-somethings squealed with delight at First Niagara Pavilion last Saturday as the Backstreet Boys proved they haven’t gone anywhere. The group asked just three things of their fans for the evening – “go crazy, be loud and act like you’re 15” – all of which, were accomplished.

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Kicking off the show, fans went nuts as Brian Littrell walked out with his son, Baylee. After a little playful banter, Baylee performed two adorable songs – Mariah Carey’s “Fantasy” and the Jackson Five hit. It’s clear the apple does not fall far from the tree.

Opening act, Avril Lavigne, took the stage around 7:30 p.m. bringing her extensive collection of hits like “Here’s to Never Growing Up,” “Sk8ter Boi,” “Girlfriend” and her first hit – “Complicated.”

While her tunes were spot on, Avril is very awkward on stage in terms of crowd interaction. A full walkout stage was in front of her, yet she never set foot off the main stage. There were very few moments of addressing the crowd and no playful banter. It was basically a live greatest hits collection. She’s a talented artist, but I can listen to an album anywhere.

Backstreet Boys was complete 180 from Avril’s show. Entering to squealing girls from the front of the house to the top of the lawn – BSB still makes hearts flutter. As they rose from the stage to “The Call” – the moves, dances, and sexy men of the 90s never missed a beat.

Sticking to many classics like “All I have to Give,” “Show me the Meaning of Being Lonely,” and “I Want It That Way” were belted from the stage and almost overpowered by the crowd singing along. In an interesting change-up, the group opted to perform an acoustic set in the middle of the show – which included a really beautiful version of “Quit Playing Games (With My Heart).” Finishing out their show with two of their most popular hits – “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)” and “Larger Than Life,” the Backstreet Boys truly are entertainers.

It’s hard to believe that BSB is celebrating more than 20 years together as a group. Fans young and old screamed with delight from the first note. They gave the band exactly what they wanted – loud, crazy fans acting like they were 15 again. For many it was a trip down memory lane, except this time they weren’t as squeaky clean as they were in the 90s – gyrating from the walk out stage, removing shirts and even “shakin’ what they’re mamma gave’em” all through the night.

While there are many bands touring today that are stuck in the past, replaying a collection of hits from their glory days – that’s not the Backstreet Boys. A year ago, BSB released a new album – “In A World Like This” after a four year hiatus and the fans still loved it. While neither of the singles from the album – including the song “Show’ Em (What Your Made Of)” which was written about their kids – peaked on the charts, the true fans still knew every word.

Finally, not to be outdone by the likes of Justin Bieber and Katy Perry for music-inspired films, the Backstreet Boys released a promo of their new movie, coming in 2014, to the big screen and the fans went wild.

Backstreet Boys are not one of the has-beens still touring off old material – they are evolving into something even more incredible than they were 20 years ago. Here’s to hoping it’s not the last time we see them on stage here in Pittsburgh.

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