Indonesians who grew up before the 2000s rarely had the chance to see their childhood or teenage musical idols in action, as international concerts in the country during that time were few and far between.
So, seeing thousands of Backstreet Boys’ fans line up for the group’s concert at JIExpo Kemayoran, North Jakarta, on Saturday was no surprise, though it was not the group’s first visit to the capital – they performed in Jakarta in 2008 and with the New Kids on the Block in 2012.
Founded in Florida in the US in 1993, the Backstreet Boys rose to international prominence with their debut album in 1996 and have since released nine studio albums, including DNA in January this year. The Jakarta concert is part of the DNA World Tour 2019, which commenced in May and will end in May next year.
JIExpo rang with cheers as band members Nick Carter, Brian Littrell, AJ McLean, Howie Dorough and Kevin Richardson showed up on stage.
“Sorry it took us so long to get here,” AJ said to the crowd, who were mostly aged in their 30s.
The concert reeked of nostalgia from the start, as they kicked off with I Wanna Be With You and The Call, taken from the first and fourth album, respectively.
It got even more nostalgic for the fans as they were able to see the original five-piece perform. Richardson quit the group in 2006 and was absent from the 2012 concert in Jakarta. He rejoined the group later in the same year.
“Jakarta, are you ready to party like it’s 1999?” the group then asked the audience. That was the year when the Backstreet Boys released one of the best-selling albums of all time, Millennium, which spawned hits such as I Want It That Way and Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely. The two hits were performed with the group donning their trademark outfits from back in the day.
Unlike their performances in the US, the Backstreet Boys were not accompanied by a live band in Jakarta. But their stable and mature vocals were commendable and it was enough. For several hours on Saturday night, the venue felt like a giant karaoke room as fans passionately sang along and the group addressed them as “the loudest and happiest crowd so far”.
Now in their late 30s to 40s, the Backstreet Boys, who rocketed to fame as a dance group, still perform their hits, such as As Long As You Love Me, with a well-choreographed act.
“It amazed me how they still nailed the choreography despite their age,” 30-year-old long-time fan Ifnur Hikmah told the Jakarta Post.
The group’s performance was backed with great lighting and a proper sound system.
Aside from their hit songs, the tour’s set list consisted of new songs from the album DNA. It also featured a rare a capella performance of new song Breathe.
“You don’t mind if I sing it a little bit for you, do you?” heartthrob Carter asked the fans before singing The Way It Was in a short solo moment. Each member then followed suit, and it was the only time they could interact directly with the fans.
The two-hour concert paid off with over 30 songs performed.
“I’m quite happy [that I was able] to fulfil my childhood dream of seeing them [in concert]. If there is another chance to see them again, why not?” said Ifnur.
The Backstreet Boys are scheduled to have two more shows in Asia, namely in Manila on October 28 and Singapore on October 30.
The Jakarta Post/Asia News Networke