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Review Blog

Darren Criss Live in Trinoma (December 22, 2010)

Posted by Fred on November 22, 2012 at 10:30 AM Comments comments (0)

I was not really expecting much from this concert.  The artist Darren Criss is new, and only hit the public consciousness recently because of his breakthrough appearance on the hit TV show "Glee" as Blaine, Kurt's crush from the Dalton Warblers.  He is the first artist from "Glee" to have a concert here in Manila, and as total Gleeks, my wife, my daughter and I all went to catch this show.


Iin the last week when we were Christmas shopping at the Trinoma, we did not see big posters announcing this mall show.  I just recalled that it was announced previously, so we inquired at the concierge for the ticket mechanics. It was not too difficult to get tickets this time unlike previous mall shows, like Elliot Yamin or even Taylor Hicks.


Darren Criss is half Irish and half Pinoy.  I do not really see any Pinoy in him appearance-wise, though, as he had more of a Middle Eastern look. Anyway, he seemed very friendly and overwhelmed with this Pinoy fans.  He was very good with the guitar and keyboards.  He had a very strong and versatile pop voice.

His concert was very generous.  He just kept on singing, and obviously was having a lot of fun doing so.  He had about 16 songs in the regular set, and then two songs in the encore.  He did songs from his EP entitled "Human," like the title track, "Not Alone" (VIDEO) and "Jealousy." 




Of course, he did his songs from Glee, "Hey Soul Sister" (VIDEO) and "Teenage Dream."  It was just a bummer that my video "Teenage Dream" disappeared from my camera!




He did three Disney songs, namely "Make a Man Out of You," "Part of Your World" and attempted "Go the Distance" but charmingly flubbed the lyrics.  

Of course he did not disappoint the fans of his Youtube hit series "A Very Potter Musical" by doing a lot of its selections like "Get Back to Hogwarts" (singing multiple parts), "Granger Danger" (VIDEO) and even a Hermione song "The Coolest Girl."  




He ended his concert with a Christmas carol, "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" (VIDEO) and "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." (VIDEO)




Last night, the fangirls were so unexpectedly rabid.  Some were even in Hermione costumes, in reference to Darren's starring role as Harry Potter in "A Very Potter Musical."  They were screaming so loudly when Darren made his appearance, and were singing along to ALL his songs!  This guy seems to have bright future ahead of him.




The Hit Man David Foster and Friends

Posted by Fred on November 22, 2012 at 9:05 AM Comments comments (0)

October 23, 2010




On paper, this was a rare and exciting concert. Imagine, we get to hear David Foster, the renowned Canadian musician, composer, singer, songwriter, arranger and record producer for the biggest artists in the music industry. And at the same time, we get to see and hear no less than five of the artists he had worked with! Ten days ago, when I went to buy tickets, the show was practically sold out already. So, there were many many more who thought this was a special concert they should not miss. I was only able to get tickets in the area without reserved seats.

 

 

Concert night October 23 was a Saturday. It was also a rainy night. And it was also the last night of campaigning for the barangay elections set on Oct. 25. Traffic was very heavy that night, in and around the city, and particularly in Cubao. There was a huge crowd outside the Araneta Coliseum when we were stuck in traffic in front of it, and it was very stressful just looking at it from the car.

 

It was already past 8pm when I found a parking space about two blocks away from the venue. When we walked into the Upper Box B area, the place was already fully packed! Luckily, we were still able to find a couple of seats with a reasonable view of the stage. It is late, and the concert still was not yet starting and people were getting restless. It was almost 9pm when the lights finally dimmed, and the much-awaited concert began!

 

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We hear strains of familiar pop music over the speakers, while the big screen were showing big musical stars singing these songs. The audience would howl and clap with each recognized song and artist. It was very exciting to hear this overture of sorts as it spanned various genres within the pop realm, and a taste of the concert ahead of us. Who these pop classics had in common was the man responsible for writing, arranging or producing them -- Mr. David Foster.

 

David entered from the back of the orchestra area. He shook hands with people in the audience as he entered. When he reached the stage, he immediately headed to his piano and started to play. He opened the concert with his own instrumental hits, first with "Love Theme from St. Elmo's Fire," followed by "Winter Games" (a fanfare theme he composed for the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary).

 

He then introduced his first guest, the Canadian Tenors. Obviously derived from the success of Il Divo, these newcomers had very strong voices as they harmonized on songs by Andrea Bocelli ("Because We Believe" and "The Prayer"). I liked their take on the Leonard Cohen song "Hallelujah" the best. Their overall performance though was uneven, a bit lacking in showmanship, blending and clarity.

 

The next friend David introduced is a superstar, Ms. Natalie Cole. Compared to the bombastic voices of the tenors, Ms. Cole had a much finer tone as she first ripped into "Fever." The crowd then had its first chance to do serious sing-along when Ms. Cole sang her 80s hit "Miss You Like Crazy." Mr. Foster could not help but revel in the collective voices of the audience! He said he had heard about it, and this is the first time he actually heard an audience sing with the whole song! Next, the screen showed a video of Mr. Nat King Cole as he sang "Unforgettable" as Ms. Natalie duetted with him live, as Mr. Foster produced it in 1991. Her last song was her 1975 hit "This Will Be." A very good and classy set! Unfortunately her volume of voice was soft, and tended to be drowned by the orchestra, and the audience singing along!

 

For VIDEO of Ms. Natalie Cole, click HERE

 

David's next friend is American Idol Season 2 winner Ruben Studdard. The "Velvet Teddybear" took care of the R&B hits of Mr. Foster. He sang "Mornin" (by Al Jarreau), "I Swear" (by All 4 One) and "After the Love Has Gone" (by Earth, Wind and Fire). He also did some R&B song improvisations given a statement given by "random" members of the audience (who were hilariously both named "George" and "Georgia"). He ended his solo set with his version of the Michael Buble hit "Home." This guy can really sing! With this, I have already watched 4 out of the 9 AI champs so far: Taylor Hicks, David Cook, Kelly Clarkson, now Ruben. David then invited Natalie Cole back out on stage, and she and Ruben sang a duet version of "When I Fall in Love."

 

For VIDEO of Mr. Ruben Studdard, click HERE

 

Saying he knew that Filipinos love to sing, David then went into the audience to pick out supposedly random audience members to sing something for him. First, there was this girl named Maria, who unexpectedly sang a mean "Because You Loved Me." Then there was this teenager who called on two more friends to sing "Pyramid" in harmony. By that time, you get the feeling that these were not really random volunteers at all. Next, he actually sought out Randy Santiago, who sang "Wildflower" (David's first real hit by his band Skylark in 1971). Then it was Ms. Pilita Corrales who sang "Dahil Sa 'Yo". And finally, he "found" Arnel Pineda, whom he requested to sing "Hard Habit to Break."

 

For VIDEO of Arnel Pineda, click HERE

 

That was the perfect segue into his next friend, Peter Cetera. I was really awaiting for this part since I was not able to see Cetera's Manilaconcert last year. And Chicago was one of my favorite bands in my younger years. It was Cetera who told David how Filipinos loved to sing along with the artist during concerts. Mr. Cetera sang his golden hits with Chicago, "Hard to Say I'm Sorry," "You're The Inspiration" and "If You Leave Me Now" (which David says is for him the best pop love song, or something to that effect). The velvety-smooth tone was still there, though the range has been a bit limited by age. He ended his set with his solo hit "Glory of Love." Very nice and nostalgic.

 

For VIDEO of Mr. Peter Cetera, click HERE

 

After David Foster introduced his band, he proceeded to talk about the guy codenamed "falsevoice" and a woman named Raquel. Of course, we all knew whom he was about to introduce. David mused how he once told a young Celine Dion how she would be known by her first name, and she would sing with Barbra Streisand; then how he told the next singer that SHE would be called by her first name and she would sing with Celine Dion. He also denied that she was his and Oprah's love child. Haha! Then, Charice came out onstage in a shiny hot pink minidress with big hair, nothing at all like the girl we saw on "Glee."

 

Charice regaled us with her very strong belting voice on diva numbers like "Power of Love" and "To Love You More". She then sang her hit from her first international album, "Pyramid." Following that, she rendered the two hits from what David considers the peak achievement of his career, the "Bodyguard" soundtrack, "I Have Nothing" and "I Will Always Love You". She concluded her set with another lung-busting song, "All By Myself." I must say, I am not really a Charice fan, but listening to her sing live was quite an aural experience! However, they should stop promoting her like a little Celine Dion. I think I have actually seen Celine in this same outfit and hairstyle before.

 

For VIDEO of Charice, click HERE

 

For the finale number, David and Charice started to perform Michael Jackson's "Earth Song," Foster's only collaboration with MJ. Natalie Cole came out to join Charice in the second verse. Then all the men also joined in. Ruben Studdard had a couple of lines, the Canadian Tenors had some rhythm vocals. I don't think Peter Cetera had a solo. But the glory notes at the end were all from Charice. She was the main centerpiece of this finale.

 

 

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The ceiling lights did not immediately turn on. The spotlight remained on the piano. The audience stood with bated breath whether David Foster will come out for an encore. But alas, that encore was not to come. The concert was over. All in all, this was a very enjoyable and satisfying concert for any fan of contemporary pop music of all ages, well at least particularly of the 1980s and 1990s. David Foster, after all, is a major influence in the world of pop of that era. It seemed anything worked on will have its special brand of pop magic and hit it big. And surely, we all felt it in the music we heard this night. Oh, for those who missed this concert, Mr. Foster already intimates that he wants to come back to Manila next Valentine's Day. So watch out for that!


Sayaw Sabel

Posted by Fred on November 1, 2011 at 11:15 AM Comments comments (0)

June 26, 2010



This is the 3rd and final event of PETA's East West Danse event which spanned the whole month of June.  Of the three shows, it is "Sayaw, Sabel" which had generated the most hype and excitement.  Many big names in various fields of Filipino arts are involved. The huge turnout tonight proved its popularity.  Tonight was a full house.

 

This dance showcase is a product of director and choreographer Ms. Agnes Locsin.  She was once artistic director and chief choreographer of Ballet Philippines in the 90s, now based in Davao City.  She is known for merging Western classical dance technique with Philippine neo-ethnic movements.  I beleive she does a lot of this in "Sayaw, Sabel".

 

(Bencab and "Sabel" picture from dingrocespo.blogspot.com)

 

The inspiration behind "Sayaw, Sabel" is the painting called "Sabel" by National Artist Mr. Benedicto Cabrera.  This painting "Sabel" was described by its creator Bencab to be "a melancholic symbol of dislocation, despair and isolation--the personification of human dignity threatened by life's vicissitudes, and the vast inequities of Philippine society."  "Sayaw Sabel" on the otherhand, is described in its synopsis as "a collection of dances depicting how Filipinos go through life in the midst of all their troubles and tribulations with shining resilience."

 

The unique feature of "Sayaw Sabel" is that the lead role of Sabel will be performed by a different featured theater actor each night, making each show different from the others.  Also, Each show will have seven dance artists and a featured theater artist portraying the title role. In an article in Malaya, Locsin said that the seven dancers of each show will also depend on who is available at the time.

 

In 2pm show today, Sabel was played by PETA Artistic Director Ms. Maribel Legarda.  For the show I watched tonight, Sabel was played by a theater actor and director named Melvin Lee.  I honestly have not heard of him before, but he seemed to have a lot of fans in the audience, as he was always very warmly applauded.  Other actors set to play Sabel in future stagings are Nonie Buencamino and his wife Shamaine Centenera.

 

The music of "Sayaw, Sabel" comes from Louie Ocampo and Joey Ayala.  Additional sound design and music was by Jakob Rodriguez with selected OPM songs of Celeste Legazpi, Basil Valdez, Parokya ni Edgar, Noel Cabangon, and Aegis. Poetry by National Artist for Literature Bienvenido Lumbera was also used.  Mr. Lumbera was in the audience last night.

 

The seven dances performed in "Sayaw Sabel" last night were (there would be several other dancers with other dance pieces on other nights):

 

1.  "Kayod" by Judell de Guzman-Sicam.  Ms. Sicam was dancing with an office chair with wheels.  Based on the title, I take it this represents people so tied up with their respective jobs in order to make ends meet.

 

2.  "Batak" by Dwight Rodrigazo.  Mr. Rodrigazo was dancing with a piece of cloth, like a security blanket.  I honestly cannot guess what this dance was about.  Not even the title gives me a clue.  It could be about drugs.  But despite this, I found this performance to be strong, riveting and interesting. (VIDEO)

3.  "Abandonada" by Christine Crame.  Ms. Crame was dancing with what looked like a very big piece of white paper.  I do not know what the paper was about, but the title suggests she had been abandoned by her husband.  The first part of her dance was to the Visayan song "Usahay", while the second part was to the Aegis song "Halik."  Very innovative.  (VIDEO)

 

4.  "Sugat" by Annette Cruz-Mariano.  Ms. Mariano was dancing with a huge black fishing net.  Based on the title, and the voiceover, this dance represented being trapped by scars inflicted by abuses in the past.  The net provided Ms. Mariano the means to deliver a haunting and meaningful dance performance.  This was truly memorable.

 

5.  "Bagong Bayani" by Monique Uy.  Ms. Uy was dancing with a Balikbayan Box.  But actually she gets help from three other girls in this number.  Ms. Uy does not really get a substantial solo. Based on the title, this dance was obviously about Overseas Filipino Workers.  The number was rather straightforward with familiar and easier to access modern dance steps.  (VIDEO)

 

6.  "Sino Ka?" by Perry Sevidal.  Ms. Sevidal started by dancing with a piece of newspaper, but danced the rest of it by herself.  Again this is a number which I do not really know what it means, by the dance nor by the title. In fact I do not really remember much about it now.  She did dance to "HIndi Kita Malimot" as sung live by Sabel.  Maybe that is why I remember the song more than the dance.

 

7.  "Ako Una" by Camille Ordinante-Joson. Ms. Joson started by dancing solo, but the more remarkable part of her dance involved her interaction with other dancers.  We see her getting in conflict with other people.  There was literal pushing onstage!  This was the one moment in the show that was actually funny.  From the title, I take this dance to represent either pushy people in society or crab mentality.

 

And of course, there is the character of Sabel.  Sabel is dressed in layers of rags.  Her face had thick ghostly make-up.  Her head was covered by a stocking with pieces of hair sticking out.  The seven solo dances of this whole piece was held together and transitioned by this Sabel character.  After each dance, Sabel would come out and interact a bit with each of the other dancers.  (VIDEO)

In this show tonight, Sabel is a he.  Melvin Lee with his bulk and height certainly gave a this Sabel a very different look and presence, compared to what would be expected from a woman.  His solo dance steps during Sabel's highlight which came midway (after the 4th number "Sugat") were a bit shaky, but he was very good in conveying sadness, desolation and confusion in his solo.  His acapella rendition of "Hindi Kita Malimot" for Dance #6 was actually very moving.

 

Overall, this modern dance piece was thought-provoking and dramatic.  Though it could also easily be interpreted as indulgent and pointless.  I think the whole show could be polarizing, people will either like it or they won't.  The dancing here isn't exactly ballet, nor jazz, nor ballroom, nor hiphop, nor any of the more recongizable dance forms.  I liked certain numbers more than others.  I also liked that it was short (only one hour) with no intermission. 

 

Based on the audience reaction, last night's staging of "Sayaw, Sabel" was a big success.  And with other theater actors lined up to play Sabel, next stagings promise to be similarly well-received.  Congratulations to the cast and crew of "Sayaw, Sabel" and PETA!


Bellyfest 2010

Posted by Fred on October 31, 2011 at 8:15 PM Comments comments (0)


June 5, 2010


Last Friday, Ms. Me-Ann Espinosa from PETA invited me to attend and blog about their upcoming project dubbed "East West Danse."  I am not really a person who is into dance, and I certainly do not know much about it, so I admit I was apprehensive about accepting the invitation.  But as usual, my curiosity got the better of me, so here I am blogging about this unique series of events, the first leg of which started just today.

 

"East West Danse" is a three-show series.  Today June 5 features the first show entitled "Bellyfest 2010."  The next two shows are:  "Pinoy-French Contemporary Dance Week" (June 15 or 17, 7 pm) and "Sayaw, Sabel" (June 26, 2pm or 7pm).

 

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As the title suggests, "Bellyfest 2010" is all about BELLYDANCING!  When you enter the PETA building, you see a lot of women in their very colorful Bellydancing attires walking around the lobby and halls.  You simply know this is not going to be an ordinary event.

 

 

This event, which is already in its fourth incarnation this year, started in the early afternoon with an Arabian Bazaar in the PETA lobby.  There were several booths selling bellydance/ Mid-East-inspired accessories (like Sundari, That's D'Pointe and Dine Lao), a Turkish restaurant stand (Turkce Yer), and one giving a free glitter tattoos.  Peak Performance and More Than Medals were there to answer inquiries about the lessons they provide in their schools, which were Dance and Wushu, respectively.

 

 

There were also several workshops held in the Exhibition Hall.  I was able to witness the Bollywood Dance Workshop by the very gracious and graceful Ms. Priya Murugesan from India.  Following that, there was a Bellydance Workshop by a renowned foreign guest artist, Ms. Belynda Azhaar.  Both workshops had the ladies in the crowd all shaking, shimmying and following the steps, enjoying every moment of it.

 

 

The main event though, still started at about 7pm -- the Grand Evening Show. 

 

The first half of the show was a trip around the world by an Arabian boy named who wanted to find the most beautiful gift for his love.  His travels took him to South America, then Egypt, then China, then Spain, then back to his hometown somewhere in the Middle East. 

 

I know, the geographic travel sequence seemed illogical, but the variations of bellydancing styles exhibited and the costumes the women wore were spectacular.  This was especially true to someone like me, who had never seen an actual bellydance performance before.  There was also integration of martial arts like Caporeia and Wushu.  Oh, there was even a bellydance performance by a big man wearing black eye make up and lipstick, dubbed the "Enigma".  Now that was really scary.

 

After a short intermission, the second half featured the Senior Dancers and Recitalists from Peak Performance Dance & Fitness Center (led by the beautiful Ms. Jill Ngo) and various other schools performing number after number of even more variations on the bellydancing theme.  There was even a bellydance group who came all the way from Batangas.  All these groups performed two numbers each.  There were some select solo performances from their special guests.   A solo performance by international bellydance star, Ms. Belynda Azhaar, closed the show, and was the main highlight of the evening.

 

These dancers came in all ages, and get this, all sizes!  Contrary to preconceived notions, bellydancing is not exclusive for young ladies with whistlebait waistlines.  There were some ladies who have more than generous adipose layers in their belly area, but this did not stop them from wearing bare midriff outfits and gyrating in wild abandon with full confidence. Now that took guts!  It was liberating to witness. These full-figured women were among the best dancers on stage that night.  Hats off to them!

 

There were also some numbers featuring recitalists in Jazz and even Striptease (which had a couple of senior citizens there!)  The numbers with the small kids bellydancing were quite adorable.  Now, while that may be fun for the recitalists and their families in the audience, but the show may feel a bit too long and repetitive for the casual viewer. 

 

However, this bellydancing festival only happens once a year so these dancers certainly deserve their chance to show us what they've got.  After all, this event is all in the spirit of fun, camaraderie and personal fulfillment.  Congratulations to all the organizers for the success of Bellyfest 2010!

 

 

Check out video excerpts of highlights from this special night of Bellydance:

1.  Egyptian Theme Bellydance (VIDEO)

2.  Colorful Fan Bellydance  (VIDEO)

3.  Kids' Bellydance (VIDEO)

4.  Sword Bellydance (VIDEO)

5.  Bellydance Superstar Belynda Azhaar (VIDEO)


 


Pinoy-French Contemporary Dance Week

Posted by Fred on October 31, 2011 at 8:00 PM Comments comments (0)

June 15, 2010


This is the second event of PETA's current foray into dance, East-West Danse, of which I was fortunate enough to have been invited to attend and blog. This was entitled "Pinoy-French Contemporary Dance Week." This is a project made possible by a collaboration with the French Embassy and the Alliance Francaise de Manille. Tonight, June 15 is the first show night of this show. A second show night is set on Thursday, June 17. Throughout the week, there will be workshops for PETA actors by the French guest dancers from the Eolipile Company.




Compared to the first event, Bellyfest 2010 last June 5, tonight's show is the polar opposite. For how much Bellyfest 2010 was fun, lively, festive and colorful, this contemporary dance program is serious, introspective, silent and stark. This type of modern dance is more unique, and may not be easily accessible for everyone. It is not the dance we are familiar with, as it is free-form, with no rules. Contemporary dance has a contemplative nature, and requires an open imaginative mind in order to abstract meaning from the seemingly random movements.


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There were three numbers in tonight's show. The first was actually considered a pre-show feature. This segment started at 7pm with a talk by its primary auteur, Ms. Donna Miranda. This piece of performance art was entitled "Anything Less is Less Than a Reckless Act." It turns out that while the film was being shown inside the theater, Ms. Miranda was actually outside lecturing about what she was doing in the film. I did not know this, so I just stayed inside the theater to watch the near silent film. Knowing what I saw, I wonder what Ms. Miranda was saying outside during the duration of that video. That dilemma brought about by your choice is part of Ms. Donna's point.




This video shows a couple (Ms. Miranda and a guy) -- both writhing, snuggling and carrying each other. I noted that they actually repeated the same sequence of moves twice, and on the third repeat, the two were actually singing "I Don't Want To Miss a Thing" while doing the same series of moves! I do not really know if that was an improvement or not. I must admit that while I quietly sat down there, I do not know what the entire thing really meant. This is abstract art, you fill in the blanks with your own interpretation.


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The first number of the program-proper was a piece called "Kung Fu Dancing" by choreographer and Eolipile founder from Taiwan, Mr. Lin Yuan Shang. This piece was original in the sense that the dancer was interacting with the film projector as geometric patterns, poetry, scenery and actual kung fu movie clips (featuring his idols Jackie Chan, Jet Li and Stephen Chow) were being flashed on the big screen. This was borne out of Mr. Lin's love for kungfu movies, and his integration of this old passion, with his more current passion in contemporary dance.  (VIDEO)


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The final segment of the program was entitled "In-Between" also choreographed by Mr. Lin Yuan Shang. This piece of contemporary dance featured the dancing talents of Ms. Caroline Desmaison. Again, this was an abstract piece open to any sort of interpretation. I saw it as a piece that was trying to convey a sense of struggling to overcome problems. According to the synopsis, it is about a dancer "drifting and fluttering within the labyrinth of life."  (VIDEO)


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After the dances, the PETA staff called the three dancers onstage for a short Q & A session. In this interview session, Mr. Lin revealed that he used to be Jackie Chan's stand-in, that he learned kung fu since age of eight, and he believes all dances are distinguished by its energy. We also learned that Ms. Caroline sees her piece as a woman fighting the difficulties in her life. She also thinks that as choreographer, Mr. Lin can be unclear sometimes. But this instructional vagueness is also good, since she can interpret as she sees fit. Ms. Donna clarified that she is trying to eliminate working within a context. Dance should be a celebration of form (movement as movement itself), rather than of content.


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PInoy-French Contemporary Dance Week will have a second show on June 17, 2010. It will have be different from tonight's show. The next Pinoy component will be Rhosam Prudenciado Jr. with his piece called "Which Way". This is supposedly about critical choices and the "butterfly effect." There will also be another Lin Yuan Shuan opus called "Kung Fu Commandos" which is a duet form of tonight's "Kung Fu Dancing." That one promises to be another interesting night.

Tears for Fears Live in Manila

Posted by Fred on October 30, 2011 at 10:35 PM Comments comments (0)

May 2, 2010


Tears for Fears was set to perform in Manila in February 28.  I was already eagerly awaiting it since then.  The date was later moved to May 2, which was last night.  Seats for this concert were sold out even days before.  My cousin Jerry and I arrived in Cubao around 6pm and there was already a crowd around the entrances of the Araneta Coliseum.  After a quick dinner at KFC, we immediately went back to enter the venue.


Wow, the "first come first served" areas were already practically full!  The central General Admission area (which was not utilized in the Kelly Clarkson concert the previous night) was also filled with people already.  The last time I saw the Araneta this full was for the Lady GaGa concert.  This was already fulfilling its promise to be the biggest concert event of this year.



Before 8pm, the first front act Sandwich took the stage with four songs.  This is one of the rare time that the front act already brought fans to mill around in front of the stage.  This was especially when they announced that they will have a guest "classmate" for their last number which turned out to be the great Ely Buendia!  He sang "Alapaap" of the Eraserheads.  Fantastic!  Too bad my camera was notready yet at that time.  Mr. Buendia then took on his other persona as lead singer of the band Pupil, the second front act.  They sang "Disconnection Notice" and three more unfamiliar songs.  But people were definitely riveted to this Filipino rock icon.




During the lull before the concert proper, every possible space in the Colisuem was filled up.  The Gen Ad and the Upper Box areas were filled up up to the edges beside the stage.  Standing room already!  The moment the stage light dimmed and strains of "Mad World" started, there was pandemonium!  There they were, Curt Smith and Roland Orzabal in the flesh on stage!  They immediately sang "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" (VIDEO) to start things up and everyone was out of their seats, singing along and dancing!


This wild phenomenon would happen everytime they would sing a hit, like "Sowing the Seeds of Love" (VIDEO), then "Mad World", "Pale Shelter", "Break It Down Again" (VIDEO) and the last song of their regular set, "Head Over Heels".  You practically do not hear Curt and Roland sing anymore, but the voices of the Filipino audience heartily singing these well loved songs. 



Roland unexpectedly sang an emo-style cover version of MJ's "Billie Jean".  Admittedly, there was a rather long stretch in the middle of the show when they sang about five or even six unfamiliar songs in a row like "Closest Thing to Heaven" (VIDEO), which was a bit boring.  However the energy level of the audience remained on the up as their applause was more than polite even in these numbers.

 


After "Head Over Heels" and the band left the stage, the audience did not sit down anymore.  They continually clapped and shouted for more, more, more!  After a few minutes of this, they re-entered the stage to thunderous applause and hooting.  We were hoping they would sing "Woman in Chains" but was disappointed that they did not a single female with them onstage.  However, there Roland was telling us that their next song was indeed "Woman in Chains" (VIDEO), and the Oleta Adams part was to be sung by their bald MALE back-up singer, who looked like Phil Collins! 

 



After that, they finally closed their show with their other Number 1 hit, "Shout" (VIDEO), and people were singing along like there's no tomorrow.  And then that was it, the loudest and best-selling concert of the year was over.  People were all stunned and did not file out at once, hoping that they would still come out to play "Change" or "Mothers Talk", but that was not to be.  It was truly over.


Before going out, we looked at the merchandise in the lobby, and they were selling autographed posters of Curt and Roland.  These were at a hefty P1,800 apiece and there were actually people buying them!  Even the tour t-shirts were at P1,800 each, and I thought the P1,000 Kelly Clarkson t-shirts the other night was already exorbitant.  Haha!  This was really a concert to remember.  Talk of a return engagement in response to the massive clamor are already out there.


Kelly Clarkson "All I Ever Wanted" Tour Manila

Posted by Fred on October 6, 2011 at 8:05 AM Comments comments (0)

May 1, 2010


My wife and I watched Kelly Clarkson at the Araneta Coliseum last night for her Manila leg of her "All I Ever Wanted" concert tour.  Unexpectedly for a currently popular act, there was no big crowd nor long lines outside the Araneta even at 745pm when we entered. Inside, the seats were also slow to fill up.  I believe this sluggish turnout may be due to the more anticipated concert happening tonight!

 

The front act was local pop-rock artist Miguel Escueta who performed about four song numbers.  He started a little past 8pm, and finished about 830pm or so.  He got the audience going maybe by his third song.  He was not bad at all, but he seemed to be forcing his voice quite a bit.

 

The lull after the front act lasted for more than 30 minutes before the stage lights finally dimmed down and the concert would start.  By this time, people from Upper Box B were allowed to go down to Upper Box A, which I had not seen happen in concerts before.



Kelly Clarkson walked on the stage wearing a dull green blouse and blue jeans ensemble that certainly made her look quite heftier than expected.  After the initial shock about her rather frumpy appearance though, it was all about the songs and the voice.

 

This is an album promo tour, so she sang a lot of her songs for her fourth album.  The first song was her latest radio hit, and latest concert tour and abum title "All I Ever Wanted."  She also did "I Do Not Hook Up" "Impossible,"  and "Don't Let Me Stop You."  She did her emotional "Cry" with a violin soloist.  Later on, she sang the so-called "happy song" of her album, "I Want You" with audience participation.  It did not go very well since the song was unfamiliar, but Kelly had a good sense of humor about it.  



She said she would be doing covers in this concert and she did, but as mash-ups with her own songs.  She sang "Use Somebody" by Kings of Leon mashed with her "That I Would Be Good."  She sang Kylie Minogue's "Can't Get You Out of My Head" with her "If I Can't Have You."  She did sing a strong stand alone cover of "Lies" by her favorite obscure band, the Black Keys. 

 

Of course, the audience was there for her hits!  She sang her so-called "depressing" songs("Just Missed the Train," "Addicted," and "Gone" in an acoustic medley.  Then she sang crowd favorites like "Breakaway" (VIDEO), "Behind These Hazel Eyes," "Sober," "Because of You" (VIDEO), "Walk Away,' and ended her regular set with a frenetic "Since U Been Gone."

 

After a few minutes of audience clamoring for more, Kelly walked back onstage with my personal favorite Kelly song, "Already Gone" (VIDEO).   Then, she had a very quick costume change during the synth solo into a more flattering black sparkly sleeveless blouse.  She covered"Seven Nation Army" by the White Stripes!  Finally, her last song was the rousing and energetic "My Life Would Suck Without You."

 

Ironically, she only mentioned the word "Idol" once I think, when she was introducing her longtime bandmate on keyboards.  And no, like David Cook last year, Kelly did not sing her Idol coronation song "A Moment Like This."  I missed the chance to watch the latest American Idol Kris Allen when he came over last February because I was not in town.  But I am sure glad I was able to see the first and original American Idol live in action. 

 


Jason Castro Live in Manila

Posted by Fred on October 5, 2011 at 8:50 PM Comments comments (0)


March 18, 2010


 

Thank you to Ayala Malls that we get to watch these fledgling artists in free mall shows.  My family watched Jason Castro sing live at the Trinoma Mall tonight.  He is the dreadlocked folksy singer who finished a strong fourth place during American Idol Season 7, which was won by David Cook.

 

Even in person, as he projects on TV, Jason strikes us as a goody, friendly, ordinary guy-next-door person.  His style is really simple clean melodies best played on an acoustic guitar.  His voice is light and sunny, not really the big belting style Idol likes.  

 

Jason started his mini-concert with his first single post-Idol called "That's What I'm Here For."  After greeting the crowd, he sang the title track of his latest 5-song EP which he is promoting now called "Love Uncompromised."  He followed that up with another post-Idol song called"It Matters to Me."  Even if they were all unfamiliar, the style and tunes were easy to appreciate.

 

His next song is one that he sang in Idol, his take on "Over the Rainbow" on a ukulele (VIDEO).  Of course, this was based on Israel Kamakawiwo'ole's well-loved version.  I don't know but the lyrics Jason was singing seemed to be all jumbled up.  Is that really how this version is sung?

 

He then sang three more songs from the EP: the upbeat "If I Were You," "You Can Always Come Home" and his current, very catchy radio hit "Let's Fall in Love Again." (VIDEO)

 

For his finale, he took us back to his greatest Idol moment, which was when he sang a version of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah". (VIDEO)  We were all privileged to see and hear this performance live tonight.

 

So we all enjoyed the short concert of Jason Castro.  The kids liked him.  My son wants to learn how to play the guitar now. Let's see about that...


Basia Live in Manila

Posted by Fred on October 5, 2011 at 11:00 AM Comments comments (0)


October 22, 2009


I have been thinking of watching this concert since I first saw its ad. Basia, the Polish singer-composer with the unpronounceable surname Trzetrzelewska, had been one of my favorite singers in the late 80s to early 90s. I did not even know she already had a concert in Manila years back. I do not know how I could have missed that one. Luckily, after she retired from the music scene in 1998, she is now back and here live in Manila again for a comeback concert.

 

Her concert started at 9pm already. Basia came out in a black and white suit and pants ensemble. She opened with her new song: "It's That Girl Again". She seems heftier than how I remember her back then, but that was so long ago. She already 55 now, but her trademark rich vocals and great syncopated singing styles were intact. It sounded so great live. You could just close your eyes and imbibe the warmth of her voice. 

 

She would then continue singing new and old hits from all her albums for her first set, like "Drunk on Love," "Blame It On Summer," my personal favorite "Reward," "Baby You're Mine," "How Dare You Talk to Me Like That," "A Gift" and a slowed down version of "Run for Cover."

 

Basia then took a break and yielded the spotlight to her twin back-up singers from Mauritius who both sang a Basia song each ("Astrid" for Veronique, and "From Now On" for Annique). I must say they sound very good indeed.

 

For her second set, Basia changed into a black shiny matronly frock, but that is beside the point. Her singing is the main focus of course, hehe. She launched into "Take Him Back Rachel", her Matt Bianco classic "Half A Minute," "Yearning," ""Cruising for Bruising" (another favorite in a different arrangement), "Miles Away" (which she called "a happy song"), and then the song that put her on the map "Time and Tide." She introduced the members of the band, including her long-time collaborator since the Matt Bianco days, Danny White. She then closed the show with "a song about Poland" -- "Copernicus". After this song, she said her thanks and left the stage.

 

As expected, since there are obviously hits yet unsung, the audience clamored for more. Of course, Basia and the band took the stage again. For her encores, she sang her two most popular hits which most people sang along with: "New Day for You" and finally "Promises."

 

I guess because of age, she would sometimes waver on the sustaining of high notes, but I am not complaining. Her talent that brought her to fame is still very much there, so I am glad she had decided to record and tour again. Basia has one voice and singing style that is her own trademark, and tonight she clearly showed that she still fully owns it.


Air Supply "Now and Forever Tour" Manila 2009

Posted by Fred on March 14, 2011 at 9:07 PM Comments comments (0)


October 3, 2009

Elaine and I were already out of the house last night because we were invited to watch a Ryan Cayabyab concert in Greenhills. When we got there though, there was an announcement that this concert had been moved to October 17 in light of the major storm Pepeng (which thankfully spared Manila yesterday). So since it was still early, we went to Cubao instead to catch the Air Supply concert which was pushing through at the Araneta Coliseum.

 

When we got there almost 830pm, tickets were still available. A scalper was enticing me to buy Upper Box A tickets (worth P1500) for only P1000 (then later down to P800!), but since we were not familiar with how that worked, we still fell in queue to buy tickets at the box office. He assured us that we can pay when we were already inside. What do you guys think? Can we trust these scalpers? I just did not want to support their illegal trade, but I admit I was tempted.

 

When we got in, the big theater was not really full, but still pretty good for an band who had no current hit on the radio, who had been here five times before, and on the night of a typhoon. We still got good seats at the free seating area, directly in front of the stage. They were holding an auction for guitars autographed by Air Supply for the benefit of the Ondoy victims. People were pretty generous as an acoustic guitar sold as high as P30T, and an electric guitar went as high as 55T! In fact, Air Supply had already generously announced that ALL the proceeds of this concert tonight are going to this calamity cause as well.

 

We caught a front act called the Bembol Rockers. They are a retro-rock band playing rock and roll music. Their main gimmick was a band member who creatively played the double bass, spinning, sitting and even standing on it! Not too much a fan of their original stuff though.

 

 

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The concert proper opened with some interesting play with the stage lights to some electronic sound bytes of classic Air Supply hits. Then the band entered the stage amidst loud cheers. Their opening salvo was "Even the Nights are Better." This was followed by "Just As I Am". The arrangement was more rock-oriented now, with strong guitar and drum work. Russell Hitchcock's hair is already completely white, but his soaring tenor is still very much there, but a bit short on the sustain, as can be expected because of his age. Graham Russell wearing a sleeveless muscle shirt at his age was a bit awkward to watch (haha!), but he still sings very well.

 

They then went into their trademark power ballads: "Here I Am (Just When I Thought I Was Over You)," "Chances," "Goodbye," and "The Power of Love." The Pinoy audience really goes wild when Hitchcock hits those high notes! Graham Russell then went solo on his acoustic guitar with a simple country-tinged ballad he wrote called "A Little Bit More". This was dedicated to a young 19 year-old widow who lost her same-age husband in a war situation.

 

In the next segment, we then see Graham and Russell walk out into the orchestra audience while singing the all-too-familiar "Now the night has gone, now the night has gone away...." The audience in that area, who paid almost P5000 a ticket, took the opportunity to crowd around the pair, taking pictures and videos, shaking hands and hugging them. It is interesting to note that this song, "The One That You Love," is the only one in the Air Supply songbook that actually reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

 

When they returned to the stage, they invited the audience in the orchestra seats to gather in the space fronting the stage and create a impromptu mosh-pit there. Immediately following, we heard and sang along to my personal favorite "Lost in Love," the very first radio hit of the duo. After that, they sang their new single off their latest album (so they are still actively recording!), an upbeat number called "Dance with Me."

 

Next, they sang familiar love songs again: "Every Woman in the World" and their grandiose "Making Love Out of Nothing At All." (This last song was also written by the same guy who wrote "I'd Do Anything for Love" and "It's All Coming Back to Me Now." You can note the similarities among these melodramatic songs, don't you?) They unexpectedly said their thank you's already after this song and left the stage. Of course, the audience clamored for more.

 

The band returned to the stage with an unfamiliar song which says "We Like You." (Yeah, corny. Hehe.) The younger members of the band were already getting their share of admirers, especially the keyboard player. Then, the opening strains of their most popular hit "All Out of Love" filled the air as red lights played around in their background. As the duo sang, it seemed that everyone in the theater was singing along even with all the verses! They took their final bows after this song.

 

This is my second time to see Air Supply live in concert. I was in their very first visit to Manila way, way back in 1981 at the Folk Arts Theater. I went to that concert with my classmates, and it was the very first concert I had ever been to. You know I have been to many more after that first time. While that 1981 concert was exciting because we were seeing a band at the height of popularity, last night's concert was more for nostalgia with your special someone. Elaine and I had a good time singing along with almost all the songs together. No, it was not raining outside.