Tacoma News Tribune Review: 2/25/01, Tacoma, WA
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Backstreet Boys explode onto Tacoma Dome stage
FRENZY: Fans get chance to meet their favorite boy group up close and personal
Ernest A. Jasmin; The News Tribune
Sunday the Backstreet Boys brought their brand of bubblegum pop to the Tacoma Dome.
Adolescent girls were out in full force.
The girls and their parents started showing up at lunch time, about eight hours before the show, perhaps on the off chance they might spot that cute Nick Carter guy trying to sneak into the building.
A select group of fans got to meet the group - Carter, Kevin Richardson, Brian Littrell, A.J. McLean and Howie D. - at a 4:30 p.m. fan conference. Symptoms of close proximity included stammering, crying, hyperventilating and even a bit of fainting.
The Boys began singing around 8:40 p.m., after a technical delay that sabotaged opening act Krystal. (To her credit, she made a decent recovery by singing the Jackson Five's "I'll Be There" a capella after her music died.)
The Boys' coming was heralded by an over-the-top barrage of explosions, towering flames and video segments meant to simulate a meteor shower. (One dancer appeared dangerously close to being blown to bits after realizing she or he was in the wrong place and needed to run to the other side of the stage.)
The Backstreet Boys rose through the stage wearing shiny, black trench coats that made them look like extras from the Matrix. (McLean had no sleeves to show off his tattoos -you know, because he's the rebel guy.)
The group began its set with "Everyone," from its new album, and followed it with "Larger Than Life," basically the same song from the group's previous disc "Millennium." A few songs later, the Boys shifted into ballad mode with "Yes I Will," "More Than That" and one of their biggest hits "I Want It That Way."
Earlier Sunday, a group of about 70 fans and journalists from around the world got to meet the band at a private fan conference. Enthusiasts, most of whom had won contests back home, came from as far away as Japan, England, France, Israel and Singapore.
A succession of mostly teen girls posed questions ranging from inquiries into the group's favorite clothes to what they thought about Japanese girls. The fans even offered stuffed animals, books and pictures in tribute. (Carter, the youngest Backstreet Boy, racked up the most gifts, by the way.)
Ayse Veli, a 22-year-old fan from London, was among the more serene as she tossed a silly question Carter's way.
"Since I flew 4,000 miles to be here for one day, will you marry me?" she asked.
Carter thought for a moment. "I'll get back to you on that."
Well, it was worth a try and Veli at least got a hug and a peck on the cheek for asking. She won a pair of airline tickets for her and her brother, Hassan, by answering a few questions for a London radio station.
"She tore up the house screaming," a smiling Hassan recalled.
Others seemed more affected by the experience. A Japanese fan's knees nearly buckled after the group asked her to step closer for a birthday serenade. By the time McClean rounded the table to hug her, the woman was shivering and shedding tears. It was an emotional display of devotion topped only by Chen Hayik, a 16-year-old girl who flew 20 hours from Tel Aviv, Israel. The teen began to hyperventilate and appeared to faint as she tried to ask her question.
After the conference Hayik gained enough composure to show a reporter a picture of her bedroom, which is wall-papered with Backstreet Boys posters.
"Every time I hear the Backstreet Boys, my mind gets nuts; I get crazy," Hayik said. "It's like a Backstreet Boys disease."
"When they called me to say that I won, I cried from happiness," said Hayik's traveling companion, Iris Gilboa, of Haifa, Israel. "And my mother and sister asked, 'Oh my god, What's wrong with you? What happened?' ... We got so excited, I just couldn't even describe it."
Limor Mazor, a promoter who chaperoned the two Israeli fans, said it's difficult for Israel to attract groups such as the Backstreet Boys because people wrongly assume that bombings frequently happen there.
"They're quite huge over there. Also 'N Sync," Mazor said. "All day they (fans) call my office and ask when are they going to come. ... Give them pop music and they will take it. They are hungry for that, you know."
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* Staff writer Ernest Jasmin covers pop culture. Reach him at 253-274-7389 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
© The News Tribune
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