The buskers stationed in the covered walkway to the Hydro had boned up on their boy band repertoire and delivered stereo renditions of the Backstreet Boys’ teenybop classic I Want it that Way as a stripped-back taste of treats to come. And there was a lot to gorge on.
Backstreet Boys, Glasgow Hydro ***
Unlike their fellow man bands, this Florida five-piece have never formally split up, so there were 32 more tracks where that came from on their bumper DNA tour, which they ripped through with almost indecent haste.
They came, they sang, they hit their mark, they left. There was barely enough time to ramp up the hysteria with dry ice, portentous thundering intro music and big screen avatars which made them look like Las Vegas magicians, and certainly not a moment to waste on extraneous chat or even full band renditions of the less familiar material from the new album.
Nick Carter, the baby of the band at 39, made the most of his solo showcase with the bluesy swing of The Way it Was, while AJ McLean and Kevin Richardson formed a mildly comical tag team for a not-so-quick change behind screens.
They all came dressed for the Scottish weather, executing their trademark tight, nifty moves under layers of designer coats, as though intent on delivering the same style of show as 20 years ago, and it wasn’t until they hit a rich seam of drippy hit ballads from their late 90s superstardom that the performance took off.
Fans held aloft rudimentary drawings of Saltire hearts for The Shape of My Heart, and swooned along to Quit Playing Games with my Heartand I’ll Never Break Your Heart.
They even sang some songs that weren’t about hearts, wounded or otherwise.
The catchy R’n’B-tinged pop of I Wanna Be With You was disposable but fun, All I Have to Give – accompanied by fussy dance moves and old-fashioned hat tricks like a boy band soft shoe shuffle – and Get Down (You’re the One for Me) was a reminder that their intentions as pop suitors were not always honourable. The fans certainly wanted it that way.
The infectious dance party anthems such as Everybody (Backstreet’s Back) and pumping pop encore Larger than Life were better late than never, but a bit more of that irresistible energy earlier in the set might actually have delivered the show that the world’s biggest-selling boy band are surely capable of. - Fiona Shepherd