When you’ve been a group for 24 years and you’re one of the biggest boy bands in the world, landing a residency in Las Vegas isn’t too surprising. But where the element of surprise does come in is what you do with that Vegas spot — and the Backstreet Boys were clearly aware of that.
At the opening night of their 26-date Larger Than Life residency at Planet Hollywood’s AXIS Theater on Wednesday, it was immediately apparent that the goal of the show was to recap what the past 24 years have brought: iconic singles, passionate fans and, overall, insane success. Instead of trying to put all 24 years into one 90-minute period, though, what BSB decided to do with their show was bring things back to where it all began.
While fans eagerly awaited the guys’ arrival, they were reminded of all the memorable songs the Backstreet Boys have delivered throughout their still-going-strong career with a remixed montage of music videos, from classics like “Quit Playing Games With My Heart” to 2001 jam “Drowning.” And once the curtain was drawn, well, then the nostalgia party really got started.
Kicking off with the show’s titular song, BSB sported all-white outfits reminiscent of their Millennium album cover to start the throwbacks out strong with “Larger Than Life.” Following with another Millennium favorite, “The One,” the set list continued to go further back in time with the relatively deep-cut oldies “Get Down” and “Every Time I Close My Eyes” — that is, until they began the 2005 hit “Incomplete.” (As the song title says, though, a Backstreet Boys show would’ve felt a bit incomplete without that number.)
After breaking into the millennium with that newer track, the guys brought it right back to 1996 and 1999, alternating from debut-album favorites such as “Quit Playin’ Games (With My Heart)” and “I’ll Never Break Your Heart” to belt-able Millennium tracks “Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely” and “Back to Your Heart.”
As Brian Littrell described upon the show’s announcement, the Larger Than Life residency is like a Backstreet Boys concert on steroids, with backup dancers, dramatic light shows and even an entire song performed in the audience. But the most exciting parts were when the guys would visually pay homage to the old days, with the throwback set list accompanied by choreography from some of the group’s oldest tunes (yes, including the chair routine from “As Long as You Love Me”), never-before-seen home videos during costume changes, and matching outfits like the Millennium ensembles.
Another album that was given some love toward the latter part of the show was Black & Blue, with the guys sprinkling “The Call,” “Get Another Boyfriend,” “More Than That” and “Shape of My Heart” among some of the most classic BSB songs in their eight-album catalog, including show-closers “I Want It That Way” and “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back).”
With the 20-song roster seeing the revival of so many older tunes as well as classic dances and videos, Backstreet Boys: Larger Than Life feel less like a prestige show and more like a celebration — not just of their success from the past two dozen years, but also of the connection they’ve built with their fans through their music. Because of this, it feels like perfect timing for a BSB Vegas residency, as the AXIS only seats about 4,600 (for residencies) versus the typical arena-size shows the group has been performing for most of their career. And between that kind of intimacy and that kind of nostalgia, Larger Than Life really is a show that no Backstreet fan should miss.
Backstreet Boys’ Larger Than Life Las Vegas residency set list
Larger Than Life
Quit Playing Games (With My Heart)
Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely
I’ll Never Break Your Heart
Anywhere For You/Darlin’/Undone Medley
As Long As You Love Me
We’ve Got It Going On
Get Another Boyfriend
More Than That
All I Have To Give
Shape Of My Heart
I Want It That Way
Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)