LIVE @ THE CNE 2012
FEATURE EDITORIAL REVIEW
By: Fridae Mattas
No, there is nothing wrong with your eyes, you can say his name out loud if you want Nick Carter. The Backstreet Boy who brought Boyband madness to a whole other level back in the 90’s. To this day many artists and groups aspire to be like Carter and his group. All the rock and metal fans are probably like why does she keep throwing poptarts at us?! The Arts Curator (That would be me) selects what is covered based on quality and audience demand. After I published the insanity of last year’s autograph signing people have been searching for content on this particular artist every day. I try to give the people what they want and introduce them to new music. Prior to publishing the CNE press release I saw on the list of performers that Carter was scheduled for the 19th. Naturally, my curiosity kicked in! I had to see what baby Backstreet Boy all grown up had to give as a solo artist. He released his second solo record titled “I’m Taking Off” last year and has had a few shows in Toronto since but I couldn’t make them. Plus, it’s not like his publicists have rushed to respond to my media request so why bother? I don’t chase anyone.
This was not the first Nick Carter solo show I have been to but the first I was actually able to kind of watch… Flashback to 2002/2003 when he released his debut solo record “Now or Never”, my friend whom I lost touch with a few years ago was his bodyguard for that tour. When they came to Toronto I went to visit him with my Korean friend and chilled backstage prior to the show at the Kool Haus. All I can recall from that night was Carter jibbering Japanese to my Korean friend just before he went on stage, his super creepy friend and a contest winner totally freaking out in his dressing room. When I say freaking out I mean blood curdling screams, tears and convulsions! I could see her on the floor flipping out thinking she was having a seizure or something! I asked my friend what was going on, he came out of the dressing room and told me nothing, she just met Nick Carter. That was mind blasting! To this day I will never forget that girls’ hysteria, I just don’t get it!
He’s a talented attractive guy, okay but there are many talented hot guys! What comes over a person to have that kind of reaction? As for his actual performance, I don’t remember much of it at all! My attention was focused on the fans peeking through the curtain as they were pushing the barricade closest to us. I was scared, praying that it wouldn’t fall over to cause a stampede of fans stage left. A few teenies managed to sneak past security landing behind the curtain; clearly security wasn’t doing a very good job keeping the teenies at bay. They pushed me and my then friend out of their way running as fast as they could to the stage, completely blocking the “Make a Wish” girl’s view. I kept asking them to move out of her way so she could watch the show if they were going to stay. It was only common courtesy but the teenies obviously didn’t care about anything other than getting a piece of Nick Carter and continued to stand in front of her for the rest of the set. Sadly, I am pretty sure the Make a Wish girl has passed on by now, she did not look well but you could see the excitement in her eyes as she watched Carter on stage, she was absolutely thrilled to be there.
Fast forward present day 2012, well last Sunday August 19th to be exact when BC’s Andrew Allen was opening the show for Carter. The crowd wasn’t too large yet so there was ample room for me to float around and get the shots I needed without being in the pit, until it started to rain! I quickly put my camera away until it stopped. The CNE Bandshell’s sound is so impeccably crisp. A recent example of their professionalism was during Salt N Pepa’s set when one of the speakers blew out mid song. The fabulous femmes continued on with the track and the speaker was repaired before it ended. I was not at all worried about the sound but the tragic lighting washing everyone out was going to be a challenge, as was the stabilizing the footage, I tried my best. Shooting from the audience at a pop show, is completely different than a metal or rock show but have similar elements of danger with the huge possibility of assy footage and photos.
Never in my life have I heard of Andrew Allen or seen him perform but I arrived just in time to catch the BC native in action with his drummer. Andrew’s audience interaction was a decent start; you could tell he was nervous which is only natural. I wish he migrated around a bit more on the stage but he still needs to get used to being on the bigger ones. Vocals were good but do not stand out amongst the plethora of singer songwriters I have seen. The songs need some tweaking but they weren’t too bad, he had a few catchy ones like “What You Wanted” and “Sooner”. Andrew Allen has potential to blossom into a fantastic artist and I recommend checking him out if he ends up playing in your neighborhood!
Next up the headliner, I have not seen such a massive crowd gather so fast, Carter even mentioned something about this audience being the largest crowd on his solo tour yet, at least he’s honest. The fans in the front have been waiting for him since who knows what time. Guaranteed there were a few that flew in from different countries (I think he even pointed one out during the set) and I’m sure many camped out as early as they could to get their front row spot. It was funny because the CNE staff I spoke with told me to push through and make way to the front. If I’m not in the pit or on stage, I try to shoot from the sides or farther back in the middle. No way in hell was I about to even go near the front row, especially after my recent close call at Heavy T.O.’s metal mud fest.
Carter launched his Space themed set with the title track from his sophomore album “I’m Taking Off” coming out in a space suit with super ugly red leather hammer pants. He started in sounding pretty good with Axe in hand, I could tell he was still learning to master the axe but he’s way better than I and many other “Guitarists” I have come across. There weren’t too many pitch issues except for near the end of this tune and a few others but not as bad as most would assume. I’d rather see Nick Carter live again than Marylin Manson! His recent performance was absolutely the biggest disappointment to my ears of the century. I tried my best to keep the camera steady while shooting but had to stabilize most of the footage in post; no control over the waving hands smacking my lens mid filming. Nick sang a few tracks off of both his records with a few Backstreet Boys tunes mixed in, he even went half over the barricade to touch the fans during the classic hit “I Want It That Way”.
Mid set it was sexy time for the fans as he turned on his “Nasty” seductive charm which made me laugh! He even chose a fan to serenade on stage, that caused extreme screams every girl in the audience was hoping it was them, except me of course. Thank God I remembered my ear plugs they saved my ears from the high vocal decibels of the fans. Nick ended up choosing a ginger again, when I covered the NKOTBSB Hamilton show last year he also chose a ginger but she had a clever sign. I felt sorry for this girl because when he asked the fans to cheer for her none of them except her friends did, they were jealous moodies. Carter was giving the fans exactly what they wanted and at times it seemed like he was actually teasing them on purpose which was very amusing. He gave the chosen one some extra attention, playing with her hair, caressing her face and ending the serenade with a kiss. This was more than likely the best day of her life and she probably creamed her luckies on stage.
Carter has had a busy career life, past few years touring as part of the NKOTBSB, doing his own solo thing and working on the new Backstreet Boys record with all of the members including Kevin, he’s back! But, life is not always peachy even for a Backstreet Boy, earlier this year Nick tragically lost his younger sister Leslie who was a singer and new Mother. It is so hard to lose anyone especially immediate family, people say time heals all wounds but I have come to conclude you never really get over certain things. You just have to adapt to life the best way you can and hope to survive this journey . I met Leslie in the past, she was a sweet girl. One thing I will remember is how much she loved her family especially her big bro, he was all she would talk about.
Nick was trying to keep everything smooth and on key while dancing and playing the guitar at the same time, his efforts did not go unnoticed and the crowd of course thought he was flawless. His vocals are becoming stronger and he had the stamina to perform a fifteen track set on his own. In fact, I was quite impressed with his steady tone when he sang “Incomplete”. There were moments he seemed genuinely happy but also many instances he looked drained, running through a set he’s performed many times before like a robot. I also picked up on this intense sadness about him especially during the track “Falling Down”, cheer up Charlie!
He probably loves every minute of his career but it must be getting to him, he’s been working since his early teens with the Backstreet Boys. All of his group mates have been able to grow up and move on with their lives getting married, having children but not Carter. Who knows if he has someone in his life that actually really loves him and even if he did, would his fans allow him to grow up? Nobody will be good enough for him in their eyes, even if she was the new age Mother Theresa! Aside from the nut jobs I’ve come across, some of Carter’s fans truly have his best interests at heart and want to see him happy. Well, according to the random sobbing Asian girl who turned to me near the end of the set and said “I just want to see him happy”. I thought she was the only one in tears but when I turned around to see the rest of the audience there were a few more wet eyes, some had mascara running down their face.
The band Nick had backing him up was amazing, they even dressed up as aliens and astronauts playing their part in the show. The audience was majority female, couples, families and a few guys lingering around who were probably secretly teenying out amongst themselves like these army dudes were. Although he could relax on the redundant pointing and hand gestures, his solo music has more of an edge and the content is getting better lyrically. Nick Carter did an exceptional job taking on Toronto by himself, far exceeding my expectations! He closed the set with his single “Burning Up”, you can check out more photos here and a few tunes from the set will be up here shortly. Catch Carter later this week on Good Morning America August 31st where he will be performing with all of his Backstreet brothers. If you have the opportunity to see this Backstreet Boy rock the stage solo, take that chance you may be pleasantly surprised.