It’s been 25 years since A1 started making music, and what better way to commemorate this milestone than going on tour and celebrating with their fans? As part of their A1: Twenty Five tour, one of the most well-loved boy bands recently had four shows in the Philippines. The British-Norwegian group performed in Davao on Oct. 12, Cebu on Oct. 13, and wrapped up with two consecutive shows at the New Frontier Theater on Oct. 14 and 15.
In the middle of A1’s setlist on the first night of their Manila show, my friend turned to me and said, “I remember my high school exes!” The show was nostalgic for those who grew up listening to ’90s and early ’00s pop music, and their songs made us reminisce about a certain point in our lives. We still know the lyrics by heart and recall those scenes in their music videos. Ben, Christian, Mark, and Paul made our tita hearts flutter.
The upbeat track “Same Old Brand New You” marked the start of A1’s set. I remember the choreography and the music video (the auto repair shop in the middle of nowhere, the sepia filter, the members dancing in the rain … I could go on), and it was the best song to get the crowd on their feet.
“Can you believe it — 25 years? You all look way too young! And of course, we look way too young as well, right?” Mark asked, and the crowd answered a resounding yes. “We’re gonna take you back to 1999,” Christian said as he introduced “Everytime.” The music video was also shown on the screen “for you to see what we used to look like.” You can ask me for a list of the most prominent boy band songs, and A1’s hits, including “Everytime,” will be part of it.
Before performing “Ready or Not,” Ben asked the crowd to put down their phones and practice the choreography with them. Once you see the music video again, you’d know the dance moves! A1 also performed their newest single, “Call Me When You Land.”
In between songs, the members of the group shared stories with the crowd. Ben said “When I’m Missing You” is perfect for when they’re missing their families (aside from Mark, all the members have their own families). As the song came to an end, they transitioned into performing “If You Were My Girl” and changed the lyrics to “if you were Mark’s girl,” making the crowd cheer and laugh. They also sang “One More Try,” and their fans sang along.
Christian told the crowd that he went to the same high school and was in the same choir as Brian Littrell of the Backstreet Boys. A1 performed a medley of boy band hits, paying tribute to some of the best boy groups: Backstreet Boys’ “Quit Playing Games,” Take That’s “Back for Good,” One Direction’s “Story of My Life,” *NSYNC’s “This I Promise You,” and another Backstreet Boys track “I Want It That Way.”
A1 constantly thanked their fans, with Christian saying, “Thank you so much for being part of our lives for the last 25 years.” Mark also commented after they performed “Living the Dream” that they ARE living the dream, and he thanked their fans for making that dream a reality.
“Manila, you are just so special to us. You have a special place in our hearts. We don’t want this night to end.”
“Heaven By Your Side,” “Caught in the Middle,” and “One Last Song” (very apt, I must say) wrapped up A1’s set that night.
The group went back on stage for their encore and sang “Walking in the Rain.” To the delight of the crowd, Ben changed the word “baby” to “Manila” in one line of the song.
Before performing their most-streamed song on Spotify, “Like a Rose,” Ben said he wanted to hear everyone sing the chorus. The Manila choir obliged. “You guys are amazing!” He smiled, and when he sang the first line of the song, the crowd went wild.
Everyone was still on their feet as A1 performed their last encore song, “Take on Me.” And I just knew Ben, Christian, Mark, Paul, and the crowd had the best time, savoring the last few minutes of that unforgettable reunion.
It was a show that celebrated A1, their music, and their fans. It doesn’t matter when you first started to listen to them. Some might have listened to their songs just recently, and some might have supported them even before they released their first single. A1’s songs will continue to be a part of the soundtracks of their fans’ lives, even after 25 years and beyond.
The series of A1: TWENTY FIVE shows in the Philippines is presented by Concert Republic.
Words by Ava Sumortin
Photos by Seth Valenzuela
See more photos here
A1: Twenty Five Set List (Manila Night 1)
Same Old Brand New You
Be the First to Believe
Summertime of Our Lives
Ready or Not
Forever in Love
Call Me When You Land
Make It Good
When I’m Missing You
If You Were My Girl
One More Try
Boy band medley
Learn to Fly
Living the Dream
Heaven By Your Side
Caught in the Middle
One Last Song
Walking in the Rain
Like a Rose
Take on Me