24 years after their first concert in Albany, the Backstreet Boys return

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Nearly a quarter century after the Backstreet Boys played their first gig in the Albany area, they’re back — and some of the tweens who hosted them now have tickets to their comeback.

Kaitlin Ruffini, now from Ulster Park, was one of hundreds who cheered when the Backstreet Boys played at the Palace Theater in 1998. She had tickets for years to their comeback show at SPAC. It’s been postponed, due to the pandemic, but they’re finally going to perform on Saturday night.

“I tried to get the friends I had been with before and they said, ‘Are you kidding?’ “said Ruffini.

So she invited other friends.

She’s no longer a teenybopper – now she’s a mum to three young children – but she said the nostalgia factor drew her in.

“I followed them for years. We grew up with them,” she said.

She saw them again as a teenager, during a show at the Pepsi Arena. But it wasn’t the same as that intimate little room when the band had just started.

“Stadiums, forget it, you’re in the nosebleed seats and you can’t see anything,” she said. “And here, SPAC! I went to hundreds of concerts at the SPAC. These are easy tickets, you sit on the lawn with a cocktail and you’re good.

Her group has seats, but she hopes to persuade them to stay on the lawn and dance to the familiar songs of their youth.

“It’s where people hang out and are social,” she said.

She has never forgotten the night she saw them at the Palace. It was his first concert.

“I remember exactly what I was wearing,” she said.

His mother, Barbara Thorpe, recalled receiving “divine guidance” to wear earplugs for the show.

“The tweens were so loud,” she said.

A review of the show by Times Union repeatedly described the heartbreaking screams and impressive length of time children could emit this level of sound.

But, Thorpe said, her daughter loved the show and the surprise that followed.

They stopped at Roy Rogers at a Thruway rest stop on the way home – and the Backstreet Boys were there too.

“There were only about 15 girls and their parents, they were so nice, they let the girls take pictures of them,” Thorpe said. “My daughters and their friends had already used their film.”

Since Ruffini couldn’t photograph the moment, she went online to a Backstreet Boys fan page later to try to connect with anyone else who had been there.

“I was scouring that fan page looking for other people who might have seen them as well,” she said. “I was able to find another girl who had taken photos and I was in the corner of one of the photos. It was just the corner of my shirt.

She still has the photo.

“It was crazy. It was these men, these boys that we had just seen on stage, and we were singing to all their songs and dancing to all their moves, and here they are right in front of our faces! she said.

She plans to take her kids to their own favorite bands when they’re old enough, just like her mom took her.

“I think so, because it’s a great experience,” she said.

Elizabeth J. Harless