Review by Darlene Perkins
The Backstreet Boys make a long-overdue return to Louisville bringing their DNA Tour to the Yum Center with support from Baylee Littrell and Linkin Bridge
After 26 years together, 10 albums, a legion of devoted fans, as well as a Las Vegas residency to their collective credit, the DNA Tour marks The Backstreet Boys first appearance in Louisville in 18 years. For their die-hard fans and Kentucky natives Brian Littrell and Kevin Richardson, that is too long an absence and made for an emotional homecoming.
Known for their tight vocals and slick dance routines, “The Boys” did not disappoint the sold-out KFC Yum Center crowd which was packed to the brim with screaming, dancing and joyful women, many of whom had teenage crushes one or another of these former teen idols who provided the soundtrack of their adolescent years. The lights lowered and the screams began. Flashing lights and video screens flashing the names of their albums were shown one by one and when the curtain went up the message was clear: Backstreet’s Back! From the first note of the first song, one of their older tunes, ”I Wanna Be With You” grown women, some with their own daughters with them, were transformed to a version of their teenage selves. While the banter from the stage was about “dad” bodies and getting older, no one in the audience seemed to notice.
The Boys knew exactly what these fans wanted and while they did perform a mixture of songs from their latest album, DNA and old favorites during their 2-hour set. Their beautiful vocals were on full display in “Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely,” proving that they still have “it.” “Breathe” from the new album features acapella vocals that harken back to their early days 26 years ago when they were aged between just 13 and 21 years old. Even then their strength was in their perfectly blended vocals and this new song is the perfect showcase for that talent. They did songs like fan favorite, “Shape of My Heart,” “Drowning” and the new song, “Chances.”
Throughout the show, each “Boy”, now grown with families of their own, individually thanked the fans for sticking with them over the years through the good and the bad. Among the throngs of fans in attendance were the friends and family of Brian and Kevin who were both very emotional about being able to perform in front of the nearest and dearest in their home state. At one point, Brian made a point to let everyone know how grateful he felt and that “If I can be on this stage, then anyone here can do the same,” and encouraged everyone to chase their dreams.
One of the highlights of the night came toward the end, when Kevin and Brian came out wearing University of Kentucky jerseys, while Howie Dorough and Nick Carter donned University of Louisville jerseys in tribute to Kentucky’s major sports rivals. To bring both sides together, AJ McLean split the difference by wearing a jersey that was half and half. They closed the night with hits, “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” and their fan salute song “Larger Than Life,” bringing the night to a close on a high note. For this fan, it was one of the best shows I’ve attended in years. Kentucky fans can only hope we don’t have to wait as long for The Backstreet Boys to return.
Providing the main support this evening is rising country star Baylee Littrell (who also happens to be the 16-year-old son of Backstreet member Brian Littrell). With a debut album set to release on November 15th and a great new single “Boxes”, things couldn’t be going any better for Baylee Littrell. Appearing very comfortable in stage and in front of the huge crowd, Baylee’s opening set included a couple of new songs including the aforementioned “Boxes” as well as “We Run this Beach” and “Don’t Knock It”. Growing up in the music business and being on tour with father, you could tell he has learned how to entertain a crowd, I think he will be someone we need to watch for in the coming years.
From the west side of Louisville, the award-winning singing group Linkin Bridge wowed the crowd with an all to short set of songs featuring their signature harmonies. Linkin Bridge is soul-singer Montre Davis, Big Rome Kimbrough, gritty tenor China Lacy, and first tenor Elliott Nichols.