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Backstreet Boys glad to be back in ‘2nd home’ on Las Vegas Strip

Updated September 21, 2019 - 12:42 pm

The Kats! Bureau at this writing is iHeartRadio Music Festival, Section 9. Good view of the action, and I’ll tell you what, the young woman next to me is a great audience for this show. She likes everything. She seems ready to mosh to Hootie & The Blowfish. The iHeart crew hit the jackpot with this one. And I might, too, be hit by a flying elbow if we’re not careful.

More from this scene, and beyond:

Boys are back in town

Polished and precise from a lengthy world tour and two-year Las Vegas Strip residency, Backstreet Boys performed at iHeartRadio Music Festival on Friday by honoring its recent past.

It was at the 2016 show that BSB joined Florida Georgia Line for “Everybody” (Backstreet’s Back). That performance was a precursor to BSB’s 80-show run at Zappos Theater, running from March 2017 through this April.

Kevin Richardson resurrected that night.

“Three years ago we made a surprise appearance with Florida Georgia Line,” he told the crowd. “It was a glorious moment, a jumping-off point, and a Renaissance has occurred since then.”

Richardson spoke of BSB’s run on the Strip, at Zappos Theater at Planet Hollywood. “It’s great to be back in Las Vegas, which for two years was our home away from home.”

The guys then performed “I Want it That Way.” They said when they ended their residency at Zappos that they wanted to return. They have since toured behind the hit release “DNA,” and even after a 26-year career, are still still a bankable act. They are what we call game ready.

These two ...

Tori Spelling and Ian Ziering of “Beverly Hills 90210 introduced BSB with, “The ‘90s are back!”

Impress your friends, or not, that one of these stars has appeared in an adult revue in Las Vegas.

It was Ziering, with a couple of stints as stunt-host of “Chippendales” at the Rio.

Billie Joe is back

Green Day tore through “Jesus of Suburbia,” “Holiday” ” tighter set than their infamous 2012 appearance when Billie Joe Armstrong broke his guitar into pieces because he thought the band’s set had been cut short. Someone counted how many times he cursed that night — in the 50s — but he threw out just two profanities (including the hyphenated, 12-letter one) and his performance was on the mark.

Armstrong was in great voice and the band was tight for “Basket Case,” “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” and the new single “Father of All.” Armstrong did toss up his middle finger during “American Idiot,” changing the song’s original lyrics to chide President Trump, swapping, “I’m not part of your redneck agenda” to “I’m not a part of your MAGA agenda.”

Green Day this month announced the “Mega Hella Tour,” with Weezer and Fall Out Boy. That tour is titled right.

Heart’s beat

IHeart. They Heart. We all heart Heart at iHeart. Set it to music.

Ann and Nancy Wilson will. The rocking sister act out of Seattle blasted through the choice 8:30 p.m. set at iHeartRadio Music Festival, rumbled through a set that sounded like an album-rock from the 1970s. “Crazy On You,” “What About Love,” and “Barracuda” were in the mix.

The Wilsons kept the verbosity to a minimum, with Nancy Wilson saying just a couple of “thank yous,” but the set was a treat. After a messy family dispute sidelined the act for a couple of years, Heart is back and was in classic form at iHeart.

McGraw revs it up

Tim McGraw, brought to the stage by his friend Dennis Quaid, called out, “I’m your country guy!” Always need to balance the lineup, and McGraw, decked out in black with his trademark, low-brimmed cowboy hat, fit the bill.

He embraced his country roots, saying, “I have four beautiful women in my life because of country music.” Then he veered to his cover of The Cars’ “Drive,” which could have been a tribute to the late Ric Ocasek, through Benjamin Orr sang the original.

Ending in a nude body suit was …

Cage The Elephant’s Matt Shultz. Heck of an entertaining set, too. Performance art as if performed by Neil Young.

Fletcher shines

You know who can sing? Fletcher, who was presented in the night’s Taco Bell Performance. The festival always honors an emerging artist, and Fletcher is certainly that. She has a soaring new single, millions of viral-video views, Spotify streams and a few festival appearances — including Life is Beautiful — on her resume. She’s one to watch.

DJs are good!

Initially, star DJs were an odd fit in the arena festival lineup. But French Montana and Lil Nas X rocked the place. The socials were abuzz about Lil Nas’ abs, which should inspire fans of all ilk to hit the gym.

Good call

Hootie & The Blowfish came with a cover of Kool & The Gang’s“Get Down On It,” and hey, grooving ensued.

Honorary member?

BSB presented star DJ Steve Aoki, who closed the show, with a T-shirt reading “Backsteve Boys.” He seemed to dig it.

The landscape

Eyeballing the crowd and comparing it to the other iHeart crowds I’ve observed over the past nine years, it looked light Friday night. A lot of empty seats, even around the lower section of T-Mobile. Surprising, given the stellar lineup and performances. It could be that Life is Beautiful is dipping into the festival ticket-buying audience. Or, it’s that it’s tough to sell tickets to just about any event that isn’t centered on hockey. Or, it’s a combination.

High five

The show clocked in at a seamless five hours.

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His PodKats podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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