The boys of a1 were 6689 miles away from home when they took the stage at Kia Theater on Sunday night during a stop on their Asia leg of the “Here We Come…Back!’ tour. But that distance in measures didn’t stop them from making everyone feel right at home.
A1 are a British-Norwegian pop group that formed in the late nineties, originally four members, Paul Marazzi left the group in the early two thousands, now three including Ben Adams, who was front and center most of the evening, reminds me a bit of Robbie Williams who rose to fame with the boy band, Take That. Rounding out the group with original members, Chris Ingebrigten on guitar and Mark Read on keyboards.
They never reached the stratosphere level as some of their contemporaries like Backstreet Boys or N’Sync, but earned a considerable level of international stardom, they caused a frenzy in the UK and were very popular in Southeast Asia and Japan.
As the house lights went down, the crowd immediately erupted, after the intro video, the boys hit the ground running with a dance routine, as one might expect from a boy band and the mood was electric.
Masterfully engaging the crowd, Ben had the almost sold out crowd on their feet with arms waving, on more than one occasion. They interacted with the audience often, which lended itself to an intimate touch. Each member taking turns telling stories about themselves or how songs came about, really creating a feeling of connection with the band.
The lighting was done well, nothing over the top and with a high quality sound system, the folks were thoroughly engaged for the entire show. A well planned setlist, kept the concert flowing, including all their hits, at one point simply mesmerising the entire place with a segment of the acoustic tracks.
Mark was behind the keyboards for much of the concert, but performed in an animated fashion which provided entertainment for the fans. Of course, he would come out from behind the keys for the dance portions along with Chris putting down his guitar.
At some points, I wasn’t sure who was having more fun, the fans or the band themselves, which is always an indication of a successful performance. If the band isn’t haven a good time, nobody is.
They incorporated humour throughout the night, some of it self deprecating, like when Ben was doing the classic one arm up pose with hand and index finger pointed to the sky, jokingly addressed the crowd “We seem to do this a lot, do we do that at the end of every song?”
Chris was telling a story of how the song “Evertime” came about, saying, “I’ve always been late to things, my Mom use to say, you’re going to be late for your own funeral Christian. And I thought that sounded like a good thing so I kept on doing that.”
Hey listen, I’m far from a huge fan of boy bands from any time frame, honestly, only vaguely recognising the band name when given the assignment but I appreciated this one. Skilfully executed and throughly entertaining, well done indeed. Some things will never die, metaphorically of course, and boy bands are one of those things, each generation has them. Whether you were fan of, arguably the most successful boy bands of all time, the Beatles, or maybe in the 70’s you plastered your bedroom walls with the Monkees or the Jackson 5 posters, carrying on to the present day with 1D or the Vamps.
What impressed me here though was their vocal harmonies, and how they really operated as one unit. I suppose after years of touring, at one point in their career, on an exhausting road trip for almost four years straight, it was evident that this wasn’t their first rodeo. About half way through the show, one of the avid fans in the front rows, gestured to me they wanted to say something, as I leaned forward they gleefully shouted, “I feel like I’m nineteen again!” And that pretty much summed up things up for the night, the feeling was mutual throughout the venue.
On behalf of the dedicated fans in the Philippines, special thanks going out to the folks at Concerts Republic for bringing them here. If you get the chance to see one of your favourite boy bands, now endeavouring a comeback or on a reunion tour, don’t miss the chance to relive your youth, you won’t regret it.