The Backstreet Boys thrilled a group of about 50 fans Friday with a show at the RP Funding Performance Theatre in Tampa, just hours before they were scheduled to hit the stage at the MidFlorida Amphitheater. All five original boy band members — Nick Carter, Howie Dorough, Brian Littrell, A.J. McLean and Kevin Richardson — took the stage and performed songs from their eighth album, “In A World Like This,” which debuted at No. 5 on Billboard's Top 200. The fans won tickets to the 45-minute, so-close-you-could-almost-touch-them concert at the theater in Clear Channel Radio's studios as part of a contest. “I don't even have words to describe this,” said an ecstatic Lillian Lestoric, 22, who attended with her friend Tracey Mobley, 27. “I've been waiting for this moment since I was 10. Their concert (Friday) will be my first. And I can't wait.”
Between performances of “Madeleine” and “In a World Like This,” band members told the crowd how they got together in the '90s, and shared stories about their worst gigs (singing at a pet store opening and at a wet T-shirt contest) and the strangest thing a fan ever did (tattooing Carter and McLean's signatures on her tush — and, yes, she showed them). And they spoke of winning a Grammy some day. “We're the Susan Lucci of Grammy awards,” Richardson said. “We've been nominated seven times and never won.” When asked to name their favorite Backstreet Boys song, Carter answered, “That's What Makes You Beautiful,” a joking nod to boy band One Direction's hit song. “Oops, wrong boy band,” he said. They also talked about staying together for two decades — a real rarity in the world of boy bands. “We like each other,” Dorough said. “Sometimes. We're like siblings.” The group's opening act, pop singer Jesse McCartney, also made a surprise appearance at Friday's show.