Friday, June 5, 2015

Forever 15: Backstreet Boys still make us giddy

Right after their opening songs, Nick Carter, 1/5 of the Backstreet Boys, walked solo on stage and scanned the arena. “Are you guys for real? Are you all Backstreet Boys fans?” he told the audience, who filled the Mall of Asia Arena to the rafters on May 5.

To be honest, I was surprised myself and had to ask the same question. As an early bird, I witnessed the slow arrival of concert-goers. Most of the seats were empty with only a few minutes left till showtime.

But as the lights dimmed, more people started coming in and when the first notes of The Call struck, loud screams reverberated. I looked behind me, saw what Carter saw, and thought, “Wow, The Backstreet Boys’ charm hasn’t waned a bit.”

Nick Carter, Kevin Richardson, AJ McLean, Brian Littrell and Howie Dorough were quick to note that they — no we, them and their fans — are old(er). Right away (and this shall be quoted in all BSB Manila 2015 concert conversations) Carter set two rules: (1) Act crazy and (2) act like 15-year-olds. Later on Richardson commanded, “Party like it’s 1999.”

A photo posted by Razel Estrella (@fishpeep) on


The crowd didn’t really need the instructions, but those words fuelled everyone’s desire to go deeper into the whole nostalgia trip, back in the days when we were still collecting copies of Teen Beat and Bop, and praying that song lyrics were included in the sleeve of the cassette tape we saved our meager allowance for.

The entire arena was transformed into a sort of huge karaoke house with everyone singing along with the band for two hours. My only complaint was security wouldn’t allow us to get on our feet — at least not until the party went into full swing. My companion joked, “Of course they’ll put chairs, the fans are oldies.”

In the middle of the show, the five men took a break from dancing and sat down to play acoustic instruments. The moment was easily a highlight because it was refreshing to see them doing something different, but more than that, the acoustic set underscored the fact that we just love belting out their songs.

Over-romantization alert: It was like their way of giving us a chance to shower them with adoration. Yes, after all these years, we still know the words by heart!

A video posted by Razel Estrella (@fishpeep) on


Boy bands and pop songs often get a bad rep, the latter pegged as mere feel-good tunes, without aspirations to elevate the spirit. But who doesn’t want to feel good? And on that night, the Backstreet Boys were masters at making us as carefree as bright-eyed teenagers.

I’m no expert but perhaps the reason why they’re still here is that they continue to put out songs we can sing along to, melodies that stick, plain and simple. And it helps that they’ve taken good care of themselves (read: they’re still eye candies).

Backstreet Boys shared that the “In A World Like This Tour” is in celebration of the band’s 20th anniversary. “We’ve been together for 22 years now and we’re still happy to do this,” they said. It didn’t sound that impressive until I made calculations in my head. Because if you were 30 now, that means you’ve been a fan since you were 10. In other words, you’ve been a fan since grade school till you got a job, got fired, put up your own business, right up until you got married and had children.

They’ve got it going on for years and they promise to keep going. “The Backstreet Boys will go back to the studio,” disclosed Bryan towards the show’s end. And before they finally bid their good-byes, they told the all-smiles crowd, “We’ll see you again with a new album and a new tour.”

Okay then. I bet everyone in that room will have another reunion when that time comes, and count me in when the group announces their jubilee concert.

—Originally published on GIST.PH

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