When they’re as old as Crosby, Stills & Nash, will the Backstreet Boys ditch their song-and-dance routines and go unplugged?
Fans got a taste of what the future could hold when the biggest boy band in history sat down with their guitars in the middle of a two-hour show Thursday at WaMu Theater to play an acoustic set featuring romantic, laid-back versions of “Get Lucky,” “10,000 Promises,” “Madeline” and “Quit Playing Games With My Heart.”
Seated behind them on stage were about a dozen lucky fans. The intimate segment was projected on a large video screen so the entire audience could be part of what felt like an impromptu coffee house performance. It was pretty cool.
Singer Nick Carter said he had been inspired by watching Nirvana’s “MTV Unplugged” show when he was only 18 — and the fledgling Backstreet Boys were still practicing a cappella in elevators.
The acoustic set (which demonstrated that the singers are also pretty good guitarists) was a big departure from a flamboyant, high-spirited show that was otherwise packed with precision dance moves, soaring vocal harmonies, over-the-top theatrics and Las Vegas-marquee lighting effects.
Concertgoers, predominantly female, including original fans and a younger generation, sang along to nearly every tune. The army of cell-phone cinematographers also captured videos of each moment.
Band members Carter, A.J. McLean, Howie Dorough, Kevin Richardson and Brian Littrell — several of whom were heavily tattooed — did a lot of preening from an extended stage that allowed them to brush hands with concertgoers.
After video cameras showed close-ups of Dorough shaking his booty to a torrid flamenco guitar accompaniment, McLean warned concertgoers, “If any of you have trouble sleeping tonight, your tickets are non-refundable.”
The show, which included more than 20 songs, opened with a dazzling version of “The Call,” featuring kaleidoscopic LED lighting and split-second dance routines. The Boys were dressed to impress in matching white jackets and slacks and black shirts.
Promo clips for the Backstreet Boys’ upcoming film, “Backstreet Boys – The Movie,” played on the video screen during costume changes for the Seattle stop of the 20th anniversary tour that began 2 1/2 years ago.
The set list included such songs as “Don’t Want You Back,” “All I Have to Give,” “Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely,” “I’ll Never Break Your Heart,” “The One,” “In a World Like This” and “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back).”
At the close of the show, the group brought down the house by appearing in Seahawks “12” jerseys and dedicating the song “Larger Than Life” to the Super Bowl victors. Nearly hoarse from two hours of screaming, concertgoers still managed a collective squeal of delight before heading home.
Avril Lavigne, decked out in a cartoonish pink, white and black outfit, opened with a feisty, hard-rocking set featuring “Hello Kitty,” “Here’s to Never Growing Up,” “What the Hell,” “Rock N Roll,” “Sk8er Boi” and her memorable first single, “Complicated.” Backing her was a polished five-piece rock band.
More photos here.