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Update: This article has been updated to clarify the Backstreet Boys’ single “Drowning” was from the band’s compilation album entitled The Hits — Chapter one, not their 2007 album Unbreakable.
UNCASVILLE — Every 90s millennial and their mother know the chart-topping heartthrobs the Backstreet Boys.
The band visited Connecticut, for 96.5 TIC FM’s All-Star Christmas concert at Mohegan Sun, on December 16.
Former Nickelodeon actor and songwriter Maxwell Schneider, who goes by “Max” for his stage name, opened the show.
He delivered energetic dance songs, hitting high notes and even higher kicks with a bubbling enthusiasm that got the crowd’s attention as they entered the arena.
Performing singles like “Basement Party” and “Lights Down Low” from his 2016 album Hell’s Kitchen Angel, Max also did covers of songs like Outkast’s “Ms Jackson.”
Toward the end of his set, Max he even brought his mother out on stage in celebration of her birthday and did a group picture with the audience behind them.
“I love you, happy birthday!” he said to his mom before giving her a kiss on the cheek.
As she exited the stage, he said the next song he was going to sing was dedicated to her.
Surprising, though, he chose to then perform a cover of “Pony” by Ginuwine, a confusing choice due to its overtly sexual context. Nonetheless, it was a sweet gesture.
Fellow All-Star Christmas opener Fergie also brought her own dose of sultriness, with alluring images playing on rotation on the large screen behind her and her — very flexible — dancers.
During her song “You Already Know,” from her new album Double Dutchess, she had the crowd ecstatically cheering when she flawlessly dipped into a split on the lyrics “Watch me when I drop it.”
Fergie also performed fan favorites like “London Bridge,” and spelling-riddled songs “Fergalicious” and “Glamorous.”
One of the most pivotal points in her set, though, was when she saw a young girl named Emma in the front row holding up a fluorescent pink sign that detailed how she has brain cancer.
As Fergie asked her to come up on stage, the entire arena gave Emma a standing ovation. Fergie signed her poster and gave her a hug, but also assured her, “You can beat this, it does not have you,” adding that both her parents had overcame cancer, too.
She then dedicated her song “A Little Work” to Emma, whose story is being chronicled on Facebook at Fight Like Emma, a Journey With Neurofibromatosis.
Before ending her set, Fergie returned for an encore and sang popular hits “Big Girls Don’t Cry” and the Black Eyed Peas’ song “I Gotta Feeling,” during which she sat on the shoulders of a security guard and high-fived fans standing in the front row.
When the big moment finally came for headliners the Backstreet Boys to take the stage, the lights dimmed and images of all five members illuminated the arena screen, building anticipation.
As the lights flooded the stage below, members Nick Carter, AJ McLean, Brian Littrell, Howie Dorough, and Kevin Richardson were revealed and everyone in the crowd jumped to their feet.
The band opened with singles “Larger Than Life” and “The One” off their iconic 1999 album Millennium, which to date has sold more than 40 million copies worldwide.
Between songs, Mr McLean got into the holiday spirit and asked who in the audience has been naughty and who has been nice. He then confessed he has been a little of both, to which fans shrieked in levels reminiscent of Beatlemania.
He thanked everyone for their enduring support and said, “Next year will mark 25 years for the Backstreet Boys.”
The milestone anniversary, he said, will come with a new single, the band’s tenth album, and another tour for 2018.
Later, Mr Dorough told the audience that the group’s residency in Las Vegas has been extended to February for their Larger Than Life show at The Axis at Planet Hollywood.
The Backstreet Boys finished their set with more classic hits, including “Drowning” from the band’s compilation album The Hits — Chapter One; “The Call” from 2000’s Black & Blue; and “We’ve Got It Goin’ On” from their 1997 self-titled release.
Between the choreographed dance moves and the flawless harmonies, the Backstreet Boys proved that nearly a quarter of a century after forming they are still larger-than-life entertainers enjoyed by generations of fans.