Denise Truscello The Backstreet Boys play their last dates of 2017 at the Axis this week.
. A few minutes into “Larger Than Life,” the tune the Backstreet Boys utilize to open their show of the same name at the Axis theater, a little Kanye West slips into the mix. Actually, it’s the bass line from “Fade,” which West tested from “Secret of Love” by Mr. Fingers, a timeless Chicago house dance track. It’s an unforeseen bit of non-mainstream music in a pure pop production carried out by one of the best-selling and most famous boy bands of all time.
All Las Vegas Strip headliners do this, upgrade or remix their hits with some various or more current musical tastes. The Backstreet Boys do it just a little. There’s some Nile Rodgers-style guitar funk on “Come down (You’re the One For Me),” and a short blast of Bell Biv DeVoe’s “Poison” spliced into BSB’s 1995 debut single “We have actually Got It Goin’ On,” however the Boys mostly stick to the initial plans of hits like “I Want It That Way,” “Forming of My Heart” and “Quit Playing Games.”
That creative decision is a tactical one. As Nick Carter told me throughout a recent phone interview– and as the performers repeatedly point out when they address the audience between songs– the point of this program is to take fans on a journey back through time to when we were all more youthful, these songs were plastered all over the radio and MTV’s “TRL” video request show, and this type of music ruled the charts. If you spend whenever on the Strip nowadays and notice the number of Vegas visitors are thirty-somethings who just got married or just had kids, you’ll comprehend why this program, which simply opened in March, is offering so well. It’s the teenage music of our tourists, or a minimum of a huge chunk of them.
The Backstreet Boys were never like other boy bands. There’s no Justin Timberlake, a clear frontman whose talents and charisma project above his mates. These men do not even fit into the obvious clichés. Is AJ McLean the “bad boy” of the group, or is it Carter? Who’s the delicate crooner, Howie Dorough or Brian Littrell? They match more than contrast, a dynamic that results in a consistent performance without substantial highs or lows in their huge Vegas program. There’s a lot of goofy dancing, once again, part of their appeal. They duplicate the chair choreography from the video for “As Long As You Love Me,” and happily bound through their pleased audience during “All I Need to Offer.” Other than an energetic finale including “I Want It That Method” and “Everyone (Backstreet’s Back),” the very best performance comes when the Boys wear sparkly Motown jackets and concentrate on their voices for smooth ballad “I’ll Never Break Your Heart.” They are grown males, after all, and this classic approach fits them finest.
Make no mistake– the Backstreet Boys remain in Las Vegas for one reason just, to provide their fans whatever they want. Tweaks and modifications make sure to come, much like every other Strip production, but the audience will permanently be in control of this one. And BSB desires it that way.
“Backstreet Boys: Larger Than Life” continues at the Axis at World Hollywood at 9 p.m. November 15, 17 and 18. Find more details at caesars.com.