Concert review: A Legendary Night feat. Joey Fatone and AJ McLean | 06.13.24, The Factory (with photo gallery)

Photos of Joey Fatone and AJ McLean by Jen Ruff

Legendary Night promised. Legendary Night – DELIVERED.

From the moment my interview with Joey Fatone ended the antici—–PATION for this show grew. I don’t know why, but in my mind I thought: I hope this sells well. Driving on the highway past the Factory, I was relieved. Doors had just opened and three lines full of people filed into a DJ playing ’80s and ’90s staples to warm up the crowd. True, the crowd was heavy on female attendance; the age range really ran the gamut. The diversity Joey and AJ’s bands attracted were there in full force, dancing from the lines outside to the floor inside. It was fun from the very beginning.

The DJ played right into the set and without much ado, there were Joey Fatone of *NSYNC and AJ McLean of the Backstreet Boys. They said quick hellos to the crowd and jumped into the set. “Pop” from *NSYNC is an incredible way to start a show. The hosts danced and sang over backing tracks and a live band playing along, both hyping up St. Louis into a frenzy. The bulk of the evening’s setlist was classics from *NSYNC like “I Want You Back,” “Tearin’ Up My Heart,” “I Drive Myself Crazy,” and “This I Promise You” mixed equally with Backstreet Boys hits like “Larger than Life,” “I’ll Never Break Your Heart,” “All I Have to Give,” and “The Call.” 

Nostalgically, we went on a journey of theme songs, singing along to themes from Cheers, Duck Tales, Full House, Friends, and The Greatest American Hero, among others. Then the big dice game: a big giant die was kicked into the crowd to get the hosts to get outside of the norm. A couple of preselected crowd members got to be on stage for this part of the show. To start, AJ perfected his dream of Dr. Frank-N-Furter during “Sweet Transvestite.” The boys dueted “Sweet Dreams” by the Eurythmics.

Then, a moment no one could expect. The die landed on “It’s Gonna Be Me” and at the chorus one of the crowd members on stage broke into the songs famous choreography and the Factory erupted! She outdanced Fatone even and she was definitely, absolutely a legend herself to us all, representing our city in a most amazing moment to the screams of thousands and the adoration of Fatone and McLean. If I’m honest, it was my favorite moment of the show. She crushed it.

AJ McLean performed a few of his solo singles—“Electric” and “Smoke”—but for the most heartfelt moment of the evening, he shared his inspiration for his song “Arizona.” McLean told the crowd when he’d finished the last Backstreet Boys tour, he drove to Scottsdale, Arizona, “where I admitted myself into an intensive outpatient program in this incredible place called The Meadows for mental health. I’m coming up on three years sober, so my sobriety is pretty solid but I still work on it every day. I suffered from a condition called Piece of Shitism and it’s a real thing. I had no self-esteem, literally none, and it’d been like that since I can remember. And I’m an only child, so I didn’t have anyone to look up to or lean on and was just thrust into this amazing life at 14 years of age. My perception of reality is a little jaded. So I did whatever I could to make you like me. But today, if you don’t like me? That’s your loss because I know I’m a good person. And I learned two valuable things when I was in Arizona. ONE: The magical word ‘boundaries.’ That’s a good one. And one really important word: ‘authenticity.’ Now you’ve known me as AJ McLean from the Backstreet Boys for 31 years—but AJ is a persona, a character in a band. He doesn’t define me. He isn’t who I am inside. So tonight, hello, St. Louis. My name is Alex.”  During the song throughout the venue many embraces happened, a lot of nerves were touched, and hopefully his story hits at least one person in need of help.

Back to the show: rounding out till the end, we had *NSYNC’s “Digital Get Down,” “No Strings Attached,” and “Space Cowboy” before the encore of BSB’s “I Want It That Way” and the only way to end a show—“Bye Bye Bye.”  This night meant so much to me. I’ve loved boybands since my sophomore year in high school and though my musical taste is all over the place, I still feel home with these bands that take me back to a simpler time in life. The feeling walking to my car was that we indeed were treated to a Legendary Night. | Diane Ruff

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