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Backstreet Boys bombard Ottawa Bluesfest

The Backstreet Boys performed at RBC Bluesfest in Ottawa on Sunday.
The Backstreet Boys performed at RBC Bluesfest in Ottawa on Sunday.
OTTAWA, Ont. —

The Backstreet Boys brought their DNA world tour, an extravaganza designed for arenas, to the RBC Ottawa Bluesfest on Sunday, closing out the 25th anniversary edition of the festival in grand style.

The ’90s vocal group has been describing this year’s return to the music biz as the “second coming” of the Backstreet Boys, and, to the thousands of fans who turned up for the occasion, it was indeed a miraculous event, an all-too-rare chance to relive one’s first musical crush.

After all, Canada was one of the testing grounds for the earliest Boys’ tours, an under-the radar region where they could work out the kinks in front of live audiences and get in shape for big U.S. stages. The Boys performed in Canada regularly in the late 1990s and early 2000s and are notorious for the 1997 day they shut down the Rideau Centre: 10,000 fans showed up for an autograph session that had been organized to accommodate 2,000.

They’ve been to the nation’s capital a handful of times since, but Sunday was Ottawa’s first outdoor appearance for AJ McLean, Nick Carter, Kevin Richardson, Brian Littrell and Howie Dorough. Thankfully, the weather was fine, with clear skies, cool temperatures and an almost-full moon adding to the romance of the night.

The now-adult Boys began their pop seduction with the can’t-miss appeal of an old favourite, I Wanna Be With You, the five singers silhouetted against a bank of red lasers, followed by 2001’s The Call and the heartfelt crooning of Don’t Want You Back, which spotlighted each one of the boys’ and their supple voices. A top-notch live band could be heard backing them on the expanded stage, although the musicians were not visible.

“This is absolutely incredible,” Carter declared at one point, pausing to survey the crowd. “This place is full.

“Does this mean you still love the Backsteet Boys?”

Fed by the roar of positive energy from a sea of fans that stretched as far as the eye could see, Carter added, “We love you too. We are absolutely in love with Ottawa, Canada. We missed you. I’m seeing some fresh faces, some new faces. Make some noise if you’re a new fan. And, if you’ve been a fan for the past 26 years, go crazy.”

They didn’t need to be told twice. The singing, dancing and beaming crowd went wild for the old favourites, especially the cheesy love songs like Show Me The Meaning of Being Lonely, I’ll Never Break Your Heart and I Want it That Way, but spectators also reacted warmly to the less familiar material from the new DNA album.

Of course, both old and new songs were seamlessly integrated into a two-hour show that also boasted slick choreography, costume changes and a truly dazzling light show, plus plenty of sweet talk with an audience that loved every minute of it.

As the song goes, Backstreet’s back. On a perfect night at Bluesfest, they could do no wrong.

lsaxberg@postmedia.com

Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019

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