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Monday, August 4, 2008

Concert Review: Simple Plan, Simply Perfect

You know that you are not young anymore when you start complaining that the music is too loud. I did not complain though. It’s just that after two or three songs from the California-based band New Found Glory, I could feel my head vibrate as if a tympanic drum was playing inside it. The band’s punk rock vibe reminiscent of more mainstream acts like Green Day, set the stage for the main band of the night, Simple Plan.

The night started acoustically though, with Jamie Scott as the first opening act. Vic and I came late; we only managed to catch his last song, a forlorn tune about rain. Apt, because the guy is British and England and rain are always intertwined. After 2 and a half hours, at around 10PM, it was only then that Simple Plan burst into the stage with a song, My Generation - from their latest album.

This is our second time to see Simple Plan – the first one was three years ago, under the stars at the Fort, when they were billeted dually with another Canadian act, Avril Lavigne. Nothing has removed the edge of the band though, live as well as studio-wise. It is interesting to note though that their latest effort is veering slowly towards pop-rock. The first time I heard Your Love is A Lie, I thought I was listening to a dance tune rockified. Interestingly, they only played maybe five songs from the latest CD, the other three were When I’m Gone. Instead they played their more popular hits from Shut Up to Addicted to crowd favorites like Welcome to My Life and Perfect.

Maybe it’s just me, or maybe the band members just got older, but I think they are more subdued now, as performers, as compared to 3 years ago. At the Fort, everyone was standing on their chairs and the guys were jumping all over the stage. Oh well.

Most interesting part of the show was when they incorporated Salamat into their Thank You hit, so instead of singing “Thank you” in the chorus, they sang “Salamat!”.

Sadly, they did not play my favorite song, No Love, from their latest CD. That song is just dripping with angst and despair, themes which do not anymore depict the band’s current state of being. They are now playing punk rock with a more joyful vibe.

Friday, August 1, 2008

CONCERT REVIEW: Never Gonna Give Up On Rick Astley

In what I believe was the most spontaneous concert yet this year, that I've watched, of course, 80s dance superstar Rick Astley helped, the largely 30+looking guys and gals at the Araneta tonight to relive those oh-so-wondrous high school days! The show started pretty late, I reckon around 9:30PM already but Rick made it really worth it for everyone in the audience. Yes, his voice is still booming as ever. Yes, his 'British'-ness really showed, sprinkling his repartee with words like, 'luv', 'murder', 'bloody'. Yes, he still moved as gangly as ever, doing maybe just a three-second worth of what dancing would be to him - that is swishing his hands from the left to the right and back again while swaying his hips. And yes, he told everyone why he disappeared for sometime. In one of his repartees, he said he now has a 16-year old daughter, and he said partner, not wife, so maybe they did not get married, or whatever.

Interestingly, Rick Astley’s music played a major role in my teenage life. “Never Gonna Give You Up” hit number in the US around February 1988, at around my birthday, I think. Or was it “Together Forever”? Anyhow, it maybe one or the other song, but what made that song special was that, Papa also loved that song. It is probably the only song that connected both of us, he was 49 years old at that time, I was 17 and about to graduate from high school. It was his birthday on the 14th of February, mine was on the 15th, and we both played that song on our birthday parties, with the cassette tape (remember those) of Rick’s first album, Whenever You Need Somebody. Whenever Papa was at home, he would always ask me to play that tape. I guess he was trying his best to connect to his teenage son, trying to enjoy what I also enjoyed listening to. Of course, I did not know that he would die the year after, so that song is pretty special for me because it is probably the last thing that we both liked simultaneously as father and son. After that, me going to college and him getting sick just made the bonding more difficult. I’m sure he would’ve enjoyed watching the show tonight even at the age of 69.

Back to the show. Highlights there were aplenty. First, he opened the show with “Together Forever”, which got everyone to stand and dance immediately – and followed it up with “It Would Take A Strong Strong Man”, which cemented the party atmosphere tonight. Second, he had this karaoke portion, wherein he picked a lady from the audience. He picked Gina who took several close up pictures of him. I don’t know though if this was premeditated or not but it did look unplanned. Gina would take his picture really close and he would pose like he was going to fly with his hands glided towards his back. And she did that about two times (Gina was on our side very near where I sat) and the next time she took a picture of him again, he said, “Oh, you again!” Well, Gina got lucky tonight. We got to know her name because Rick told us. She got a hug (a very, very long one!), she got to dance with him really, really close, and they twirled 5 times! She also got to sing with him karaoke-style! And she sang! She was really game about it and her voice was ok, not out-of-tune. Third, and probably, the part that roused everyone was when Rick asked Roderick (Paulate) to come up the stage and sing “Never Gonna Give You Up” together. Roderick was pretty game about it, he even danced to the song and they first sang it guitar-driven, with Rick playing the guitar, and then as he and Roderick sang the verses around three times I think, he then segued and sang it as it was originally arranged. The lighting, at this stage, was pretty cool. There was a mirror ball on the stage and with it swirling around, the whole coliseum looked like a giant party place. A fitting ending to a night full of reminiscing. Of course, this was also my most favorite part of the show, because unlike the encores posted in Youtube of his show, this was probably, the most interesting, the most spontaneous and the most rousing – really, truly, only in the Philippines!

Celebrity watching, well, Carmi Martin was in the same section that I was and at 50 (I think), she still looked very sexy. Of course, when Roderick Paulate entered the venue at around 9:25PM, the whole audience erupted in applause and cheers as his earlier association with Astley and that song was still clear in the memories of most people in the audience tonight. Vic did not know what the connection was, I did. I remember Roderick had a TV show with Carmi where they danced and sang and Rick’s songs were pretty prominent in his repertoire.

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