Aaron Carter has been performing since he was seven years old which, at twenty seven years of age, means he’s been in the music industry for twenty years. By anyone’s standards that’s a long time. Regular followers of Essentially Pop will know that we’ve been following his career with interest for some time now, which is why we jumped at the chance to go to one of his recent UK dates, at London’s Islington O2 Academy.
Support for Aaron’s tour was provided by Austin Porter, a 17 year old North Carolina native, whose sunny brand of cross genre pop (he cites inspirations from Macklemore to Jack Johnson to One Direction) soon had the crowd waving their hands. Charming the crowd with roses during song One Love, and getting us all dancing along to track A-OK, we soon forgot how cold we had been queuing outside.
Nicely warmed up, it was soon time for the man himself, Mr Aaron Carter, to make an appearance. Greeted with screams from the (mostly female) crowd, he launched straight into a dance track, showing off both impressive vocals and moves. Chatting with the crowd between numbers, including Wassup and Another Summer Night, we were treated to a high energy sequence of songs, supported by a single female dancer whose interactions with Aaron kept the audience hyped.
For many at the show, Essentially Pop included, our first memories of Aaron were in the pages of Smash Hits and Top of the Pops magazine circa 1998, when Aaron was cute little kid with baggy dungarees and floppy blond hair. Harking back to those days, Aaron took us back in time with a selection of a cappella songs from his first UK release; I‘m Gonna Miss You Forever, Crush on You, and One Bad Apple. Enthusiastically assisted by the crowd, he demonstrated some impressive falsetto, even after admitting that some songs were a lot easier to sing in the early stages of career before his voice broke.
However, although nostalgia may have brought some to the show, the show was far from being nostalgia driven. Latest single Ooh Wee had everyone dancing and singing along, the sentimentality of the earlier a cappella set forgotten. The energy stayed high at the show, dipping only during an emotional rendition of powerful ballad Recovery, dedicated to Aaron’s sister Leslie who sadly passed away in 2012. Rightfully, Aaron’s strong and heartfelt vocal had most of us on the verge of tears.
Rounding off the show were a full crowd singalong of Aaron’s early hits Aaron’s Party and I Want Candy, bringing to an end a night of reunion, celebration and new beginnings for Aaron’s career in the UK. Aaron thanked us all profusely for being there, and was a brilliant host throughout the show – funny and gracious in equal measures – pointing out that the UK was what really launched his music career. The show was a triumphant return to London, and our only complaint was that it ended too soon – at just under an hour on stage and with no encore, many of us were still ready to party when the house lights came up.
We were lucky enough to meet Aaron briefly after the show and, as well as being utterly charming, he has promised he will come back to the UK soon. We love you Aaron; just say you’ll stay a little longer next time!