Mom, the girls and the Fab Five

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Date: Nov 11, 2099
Source: The Ottawa Citizen
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Excitement is at a fever pitch at the home of Marie Savage and her daughters on the eve of the Backstreet Boys concert, Lynn Saxberg reports.

Lynn Saxberg

The Ottawa Citizen

One more sleep until B Day. It's the biggest concert event of the season: the Backstreet Boys are coming to town. For many of the 18,000 fans lucky enough to have tickets to the sold-out concert at the Corel Centre tomorrow, the weeks leading up to the show have dragged like bellbottom jeans in the mud.

Marie Savage and her two daughters are some of the fortunate ones. They have tickets, tucked safely away. They're not the coveted floor seats, but they're not bad -- the first row of a section in the 200 level of the arena.

Excitement in the Savage household is building. "You're going to be really difficult by Friday," teases Marie as she tousles the long hair of her bubbly 11-year-old, Terie, who was already chattering feverishly last Sunday evening, spicing an interview with random comments and observations about her favourite group.

"I wish I could just go to sleep and wake up and it was Friday," Terie says longingly.

"It's going to be a long week," sighs her shy but composed 15-year-old sister, Amanda, who spends every minute at home listening to music, from the moment she gets up in the morning. She can't even concentrate on her homework without music in the background.

Mother and daughters will be making a night of it. Marie's older sister from Toronto is coming, too, and they're all going to be celebrating her birthday. There are big decisions to be made on hairstyles, what to wear and where to eat dinner.

But none of it would be happening without tickets, and they wouldn't have tickets without some smart --brilliant, really -- advance planning by Marie, who's 39.

When you realize that tickets to all 39 North American dates on the Millennium tour went on sale the same day (Aug. 14) and sold out within an hour, you'll understand: There are literally millions of disappointed fans out there.

But Marie and her daughters had made a pact: They'd take a pass on Britney Spears and Aaron Carter, who both performed in Ottawa over the summer, and save their money for the Howie, AJ, Nick, Kevin and Brian. It would be the girls' first real concert.

"You know what I like about Brian?" Terie pipes up. "He never changes his hair. Howie has this thing about his hair. One time he had his hair like this and Brian touched it and he goes (sharp intake of breath). It's like his hair is this whole thing."

"He's had it all different colours," says Amanda, a Grade 9 student. "Red and yellow and purple and blue."

Tickets went on sale on a Saturday morning. Marie hit the phones earlier in the week, looking for a out-of-the-way TicketMaster outlet. By Thursday, all the Ottawa outlets had lineups.

"I said no way," Marie says. "I had to draw the line. We're not doing it on Thursday. So then I phoned on Friday to some of the ones out of town, and Almonte was the only location that said, 'No there's nobody here yet.'

"Then I phoned Friday just before closing at night and they said there were two girls outside. So I figured if we got up in the middle of the night to go, we'll be okay. I knew if I couldn't get tickets, I might as well not come home."

"Kevin" says Terie, pointing him out on a book cover. "His eyebrows are so thick. It doesn't bug me though. They're so cool."

Marie roused the girls around 4 a.m., drove to Almonte and joined about 40 other people in line. It was dark and unseasonably cold. At 10 a.m., the doors to the video store opened and fans were let in in groups of five. Only the person paying could go in; friends and family had to wait outside.

"Brian and Nick I like equal," says Terie, arranging her Backstreet stickers on the table. "AJ and Kevin I like equal, and Howie I like last. He's too boyish. See, look. (She holds up a sticker that shows a cartoon Howie with his shirt open.) He's always taking his shirt off."

To expedite the process in Almonte, one cashier punched in the tickets, then another took the payment. The whole process took about 10 minutes. As anyone who has lined up for tickets knows, the speed of the teller is crucial. If you get one who's slow or worst of all, in training, precious seconds are lost. Remember, you're competing for tickets with people on the phone and online.

"It probably seemed like two hours to them," Marie says. "When I was inside, they had no idea what was going on in there and there were so many people in ahead of us. I think they were really sweating. I walked out the door and the look on (Terie's) face, she went, 'Did you get them?' Marie imitates Terie mouthing the words.

"I said yes, and she screamed and started jumping."

Terie confirms her reaction. "I'm probably going to cry at the concert," she adds matter of factly. "I like them so much, it'll be a shock."

Amanda and Terie have been Backstreet Boys fans for about five years, Terie since she heard her friends singing a Boys song and Amanda since she saw them on video at a sleepover. Marie got into the music by osmosis, but has grown to appreciate the catchy melodies and lush harmonies of the Florida-based group.

The family moved to the Ottawa area just five months ago from northern Alberta so never had the chance to see the Fab Five on previous tours. The Boys have sold out the Corel Centre twice before, and once filled the Robert Guertin Arena in Hull.

"I wonder at the concert, If AJ's going to change his voice," ponders Terie, who's in Grade 6. "He always does that. I don't know how he can do it, but he can sing something professionally and then he can sing it nicely but in a different way. I think that's cool. He's got a lot of tattoos, though. That's okay. My friends thought he was gay because he's got two earrings but that's just his image. He looks good like that."

Tomorrow's concert will be the girls' third major entertainment event after Elvis Stojko and Fan Jam '98. Marie won tickets to the Y105 Civic Centre concert that featured country singers Paul Brandt and Lisa Brokup, and brought the girls along.

Though Terie was on her feet throughout Stojko's performance, she fell asleep during Fan Jam. Still, neither show came anywere near the Backstreet Boys as a momentous occasion.

"I think it's great to be going to a concert and it's more than one person singing," says Amanda. "I've only been to a concert where one person sings."

Marie watches her daughters' enthusiasm with tender amusement. A native of Carleton Place, her first concert was Donnie Osmond at the Ottawa Ex in the mid-'70s.

"Wow, now we're going back," she says. "That's why I understand where they're coming from. It's like reliving it all again. I just remember feeling like I was going to throw up because I was so excited about it. I had my bedroom painted purple because that was his favourite colour.

"But don't get any ideas," she warns her kids.

A visit to the girls' bedrooms comes last. Amanda has an entire wall plastered with posters of the Backstreeters as well as 98 Degrees, 'N Sync, Leonard Dicaprio. Terie's room contains an Elvis clock, of all things, ("I like his voice," she says) and a few pictures of the Boys on the closet door. Her room was painted recently and she's not allowed to use tacks.

"See my picture of Brian and Nick. When I lie on my bed at night, I can see it because it's on my wall and I sleep on my top bunk. It's just the two of them like this beside each other." Another sigh.

She'll be lying there staring at it tonight. Getting to sleep will be tough, though, between deciding what to wear, wondering what songs they'll play and worrying if the $18 she's saved from her allowance will be enough to buy souvenirs. (She's hoping Mom will help out.)

"I just try not to think about it because I get too excited," Terie says. "The day when it's going to happen, I'll do everything so fast that I'll get so bored. I'll be sitting there for two hours. So I'm not even thinking about it. I'm thinking about it like, 'I'm going to just watch a TV show and not think about it.' But actually once I talk about it, I get so hyper."

No kidding. But out of a crowd of 18,000, I suspect she isn't the only one.

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