She Speaks: Will Hawaii concertgoers ever get to see today’s popular music stars?
In recent years, we’ve seen plenty of ’90s-era performers announcing shows in Hawaii. Wouldn’t it be refreshing if performers at the height of their success — such as Adele, Beyonce, Ed Sheeran, Lady Gaga, Lizzo, Maroon 5, Shawn Mendes, just to name a few — announced concerts in Hawaii?
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Concerts are my jam.
I love checking out performers onstage after listening to their music for years. It’s also an awesome experience to see their costumes and dance moves, along with the impressive special effects, which often include a combination of pyrotechnics, light shows and lasers.
I attended two concerts last month: Backstreet Boys’ “DNA World Tour” and Janet Jackson’s “Rhythm Nation 30th Anniversary Tour,” both at Blaisdell Arena.
It was like a blast from the past. After school in the 1990s, you could find me glued to the TV watching music videos on MTV and VH1. I recall the Backstreet Boys performing their top hits “I Want It That Way” and “Larger Than Life” on “Total Request Live” with Carson Daly. I would watch music videos from TLC, Boyz II Men, Mariah Carey and Janet Jackson make the top countdown on VH1. I listened to “Waterfalls,” “One Sweet Day” and “All for You” on repeat.
The Backstreet Boys made their Hawaii debut in early November with four mostly sold-out shows. Janet Jackson returned to Hawaii for three shows to mark the third decade since the release of her Billboard 200 chart-topping, multiplatinum album, “Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814.”
The Backstreet Boys stayed together for 26 years, even after marriages and kids. BSB member Nick Carter, 39, recently welcomed his second child, daughter Saoirse.
“Does this mean you still love the Backstreet Boys after all these years?” Carter asked the audience in the packed Blaisdell Arena on a Sunday night.
“Really?” Carter replied. “You know, we love you, too. We love you so much, we’re like, how can we find a way to make an excuse so we could be here as long as possible? We put on one show: Sells out. We put on two shows: Sells out. We put on three shows, then do a fourth show — all because of you, Hawaii!”
In recent years, we’ve seen plenty of ’90s-era performers announcing shows in Hawaii: Boyz II Men, 98 Degrees and Nu Flavor.
I enjoy jamming to music from the 1990s whenever I go out for karaoke with friends, but I also listen to more of the latest hits on the Billboard Hot 100.
Wouldn’t it be refreshing if performers at the height of their success — such as Adele, Beyonce, Ed Sheeran, Lady Gaga, Lizzo, Maroon 5, Shawn Mendes, just to name a few — announced concerts in Hawaii?
What’s keeping performers from committing to shows here? Perhaps it’s our isolation in the middle of the Pacific or the expense of traveling and bringing sets to Hawaii. Maybe it’s the unknown; wondering whether there’d be enough of an audience or if unfamiliar venues might be risky. It might just be easier for them to fall back on the familiar, such as Park Theater in Las Vegas, American Airlines Center in Dallas or Chase Center in San Francisco.
Wouldn’t a trip to Hawaii — throw in a concert — be like a vacation for artists?
BSB member AJ McLean revealed to concertgoers the group had visited Hawaii around 1997 for a German teenybopper magazine photo shoot. But did they put on a concert here? Nope. Yet it’s no surprise they felt a connection to our Aloha State.
“We instantly fell in love with Hawaii,” McLean told the crowd. “And I could not pick — none of us could pick — a better place, than to end this tour right here in Hawaii.”
Hawaii has always been a special place for Janet Jackson. “I still love it there,” Jackson told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser ahead of her Honolulu concerts. “The people are so warm and so beautiful, the islands are gorgeous, and there’s so much that I haven’t seen.”
Jackson threw the shaka during her performance of “Together Again.” She even invited local artist Ana Vee to sing “Hawai‘i” on stage with her. “There ain’t no other place like these islands,” Vee and Jackson sang to the crowd.
And Hawaii fans are serious about attending concerts.
Last year, when Grammy Award-winning superstar Bruno Mars announced the Hawaii leg of his “24K Magic World Tour,” tickets were snapped up quickly. We had seen this local boy’s star rise with appearances in Super Bowl half-time shows, and tracked his collaboration with Mark Ronson, “Uptown Funk,” as it became one of the biggest hit singles of all time. His homecoming drew Black Friday-like crowds when dozens of people camped outside of Aloha Stadium days before tickets went on sale at the box office. Demand was so great that Mars added two shows.
The Backstreet Boys added shows after their two Honolulu concerts sold out fast. My Facebook and Instagram feeds quickly filled up with photos and videos from several of my followers, announcing they were attending twice in a row: “I’m back again” and “Round 2.”
Already got my ticket to see TLC in 2020. I’m looking forward to going, since it only took 20-plus years for me to get the chance to see them live.
“She Speaks” is a column by women writers of the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Reach Diane S. W. Lee at firstname.lastname@example.org.