Backstreet Boys's concert
takes fans for walk down
memory lane

OK, so I have to admit I wasn't exactly excited about going to see the Backstreet Boys in concert -- even with the offer of a free ticket.

I didn't even have time to warm to the idea of going to watch the boys perform because the promotion for the concert was ... where? If it wasn't for a billboard I spotted near Senayan on Sunday afternoon, I would have had no idea the former teen heart-throbs were coming to Jakarta.

The Backstreet Boys' Unbreakable Tour kicked off Feb. 16 in Tokyo, Japan, with two shows, followed by three shows in Australia (Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne) then Jakarta.

It is the boy band's first tour without Kevin Richardson, (36), who left the group in June 2006 to pursue a solo career. The now four-member group still includes original members Nick Carter (28), AJ McLean (30), Brian Littrell (33,) and Howie Dorough (34).

Their performance in Jakarta took place at Plenary Hall, in the Jakarta Convention Center, Senayan, on Feb. 25. The boys burst onto the stage at around 8 p.m. to begin their first set with the 1999 hit single "Larger Than Life" from their Millennium album, followed by songs from their Unbreakable album, which was released in October 2007.

During the concert, the boys performed 23 songs from these two albums, as well as their albums Backstreet's Back, Black & Blue and Never Gone. Each gave a solo performance, with Brian Littrell singing "Welcome Home", a single from his solo Christian album of the same title, which was released in May 2006. Nick Carter belted out "I Got You", a single from his solo album Now or Never, which was released during the band's hiatus in 2002.

I must say, the boys are looking good. After more than 15 years together -- charting 12 U.S. Top 40 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and selling more than 100 million albums worldwide to become the best-selling boy band of all time and the world's biggest money makers from concert and album sales (amounting to more than US$2.2 billion) -- they still manage to bring that certain boyish charm to the stage. And who can deny the fact they have amazing voices.

When I was given a press pass to go and watch the concert, I immediately envisioned the venue swarming with ABG (anak baru-gede, or teeny-boppers) and sighed at the prospect of a night spent protecting my eardrums from the hordes of screeching adolescents.

On the night of the concert, however, I was surprised to see the majority of the audience consisted of relaxed couples in their late-20s to early-30s -- the same demographic as the Backstreet Boys themselves -- reminiscing, no doubt, about the early days of their courtship, back in high school or college, during the group's heyday.

"The Backstreet Boys were my favorite band during my high school days," said Tuty, 29, who was selling concert T-shirts at the front of the venue.

With the offer of a free ticket (a spare pass), Tuty accompanied me inside, beside herself at the opportunity to see her first concert.

"I have never been to a concert before ... this is so exciting," screamed the mother of two as she was being whisked inside to watch her former idols perform live.

The boys pleased their loyal fans with the unforgettable number one hits "Quit Playing Games (With My Heart)", "As Long As You Love Me", "I'll Never Break Your Heart", "I Want It That Way" and "Incomplete".

They brought the show to an end with the 1997 hit "Backstreet's Back", with Nick Carter jumping down to stand at the stage barrier, where his female fans surged forward to lay their hands on him.

The boys left the stage briefly and came back for their encore and final song, "Shape of My Heart", before bidding their Indonesian fans farewell.

All in all, the boys put on a great concert and I quite enjoyed the blast-from-the-past atmosphere. I was somewhat disappointed for the boys, though, that Jakarta was not able to offer a larger audience. Once again, it seems event organizers and sponsors failed to successfully promote international performers. That, coupled with unreasonable ticket prices -- Rp 750,000 for festival (standing) and Rp 1,500,000 for VIP (sitting in the grandstand and much further from the stage than the festival ticket-holders) -- saw the audience reach no more than 2,200.

After their performance at Plenary Hall, the Backstreet Boys headed to Malaysia for their next show. The remainder of the Asian leg of their tour will see them perform in China, Taiwan and Korea, before they head to Mexico and then Europe and the UK, where the tour will end in London on May 14.

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