On the 24th of March, 2014, about 15.000 people gathered in Ahoy, Rotterdam, to see the Backstreet Boys perform. Their In A World Like This is currently touring through Europe, Rotterdam is the first gig in the Netherlands of the tour, but they’re also visiting Amsterdam. I’m currently researching fans of the Backstreet Boys and their longterm fandom of the boys, so to better understand their enthusiasm and explanations I had to go and see the concert myself. After the jump you’ll find a ‘photo-report’ of the concert:
The Boys indicated during the show that they have a special connection to Ahoy. It was the first big concert they did in NL, they won their first European MTV Award there and some more, so here are some pictures of another Ahoy gig:
What I found remarkable about the concert were a few things:
a) the musical qualities and dancing abilities of the Backstreet Boys (or well, gentlemen, because they did age) were SO much better than those of the Big Reunion acts. The BR acts were really repeating the moves and show elements they were able to perform in their heydays, but which caused them to break into sweat now. BSB did not seem to have that problem so much. Whether the general fitness of the guys (who are touring a major part of the year) is better than acts that were prepped to perform in four weeks should of course be taken into account. But the newer songs had less dancing or made way for their musical abilities. Further, I found it noticeable that they songs were really a good mix between ‘hits’ and newer songs or song with a lot of dance routines or ‘slower’ moments. This also contributed to an ongoing vibe and energetic performance.
b) the great attention to the boys’ abilities were brought forward very well and wisely in the show: their signing, their dancing, their musicality… A lot of fans told me the Backstreet Boys are not a ‘boy band’, but should be seen as what they started out as: a vocal harmony group. At many moments in the show this was clearly visible, especially the acoustic moments in which the boys played their own instruments and had the opportunity to really show off their singing skills. These moments, and especially the newer songs, really showed what the ‘boys’ can do.
c) as I’m researching audiences: the audience! I had expected screaming 36-year old women who would be wearing what they wore when they were 16. None of this assumption came true. The loudest screams came from the youngest girls (20-25)! And the older ladies (lets say 30+) were singing along, but not screaming or going all emo about the music. And although there were less men then at the Big Reunion gig, there still were men, who also participated in the event (singing and dancing). It was a very nice atmosphere, hardly any drunk people (in contrast to the UK gigs), except for a few frat boys. The audience was super nice and the boys had a lot of interaction with the fans in the golden circle area (there’s the fan pit + golden circle: these ticket types are upgrades for your normal ticket to make sure you’re standing in an area close to the performers).
For me this was my first Backstreet Boys concert. If someone had told me ten years ago I would be researching these guys I would have probably called them crazy. As many of the fans I spoke to: I had never expected them to stick around this long. They were never gone in these 21 years (officially there was never a break-up), but they have always somehow been around. And that is visible in the show: the interaction between the guys, the fact that they’re taking their kids and wives on tour, their interaction with the fans, and of course the music itself (which has grown immensely from soppy pop till power pop songs with great meanings). I’m glad I went to the concert, not only to better understand the people I’m interviewing, but also to see how pop stars (that are somehow always laughed at) still stand out and stand strong – to use a Backstreet Boys lyric – ‘in a world like this’.