A song by the first band you heard in concert

Monday, December 05, 2011

source: backstreetboys-multimedia.blogspot.com
Black & Blue Tour, 2001
15-year-old me would be happy to tell you that the first band I ever heard in concert was the Backstreet Boys. My first official concert was Diana Ross at Madison Square Garden, but that wasn't the question. :)

It was February 4, 2001, a Sunday night, exactly a week following Nick Carter's 21st birthday. It was the Black & Blue Tour, and it was at Nassau Coliseum in Long Island. I still remember what I wore -- flares, chunky-heeled black boots and a pink t-shirt that said "It's all good," a phrase Nick commonly used. Our seats were horrible. It was partial-view, and second to last row. The girls who sat behind us in the last row, however, were much more enthusiastic about the concert than most of the girls sitting ahead of them. But it really didn't matter, because it was the first concert I'd bought tickets to, and it was the Backstreet Boys, who I'd probably spent every free moment thinking about over the past 3 years.

I feared, before going into the concert, that seeing them in person would ruin the fantasy for me. Because seeing Diana Ross -- though she was never an object of any of my fantasies -- had killed the illusion of the "superstar." At Madison Square Garden, the intimate audience (the tickets had been a Christmas gift from my father's company) sat at a great distance from the stage, and it was Diana alone in a sparkling red hot number. But even so, she was still only one person and a little one, at that.

The Black and Blue tour did not kill the illusion of the Backstreet Boys for me. There were 5 of them then, and oodles of back-up dancers. The costumes were otherworldly, the lighting dramatic, and the pyro monstrous. I snuck my tape recorder in with me and taped the entire thing, but the screaming was so loud that even I felt stupid trying to listen to the tape more than twice.

The moment that sticks out to me the greatest from this concert was the performance of "I Promise You (With Everything I Am)," which was my favorite song off of "Black & Blue." I've already written about this, but I was so excited (and surprised) that they were singing this song that the moment I realized it, my concert companion (it was her idea, even though she was barely a Backstreet Boys fan) and I ran down the stairs through an entire section to get closer to the stage. Throughout the concert, we'd noticed that the house was not entirely full and there were rows that were empty. Our plan had been to "upgrade" at some point, but we got so caught up in the concert that we forgot. But during "I Promise You," we ran down until we could run no further without taking our eyes off of the guys, and that was to the railing.

For this tour, they had two stages: an end stage and a round one in the middle of the audience which was, of course, closer to us than the end stage. For "I Promise You," they used the round stage, so I watched for a few moments as they sang outwards and occasionally upwards towards the audience, feeling that this would be the closest I might ever be to the Backstreet Boys. And then the security guard shooed us away. To pour salt on the wound, before they got to my favorite part of the song (Nick's part), they transitioned into another song.

(Begins at 1:39)

It was during this tour that A.J.'s substance abuse problems were first made public, and they had to halt the tour for a little bit that summer so A.J. could go to rehab. I've since been to 3 more Backstreet Boys concerts and one with the New Kids On The Block (so that brings my total to ... 5?). I scored floor seats (15th? 18th? row) to my second BSB concert at Radio City Music Hall thanks to my internship that summer, and it was then that I was enlightened to the wonder that is floor seats (and the interactions that may or may not accompany said floor seats). With each concert, I've feared it would be the last I'd ever see of them together, but I've been wrong every time. Once in a while, I'll think, "I can't believe they never stopped."

In the years since, I've met many of my favorite artists (mostly through serendipity), but I still haven't met any of the Backstreet Boys ... although I once had the opportunity to speak to Nick. But all that came out of my mouth was a flurry of uncouth words (luckily he was still far enough away not to have heard me, and if he did, maybe he pretended he didn't). Maybe someday I will fulfill that long-ago dream.

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