VJP Year-ender Special: The Thrill of Watching Concerts

I love going to concerts, be it local or foreign acts, as long as I have the means expect me to be there. There is something extremely thrilling and magical about seeing a singer or a band – especially if it’s your favorite one – owning and rocking the stage by singing songs that can evoke different emotions, remind you of someone or a memory, takes you to another place and time, or speak the words you can’t say. 

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There are no words to describe the experience of finding a good spot in the sea of people trooping to watch a rock show – screaming and jumping with fist in the air — or making your way to the reserved seat and seeing that you have a good view of the artist, singing along, anticipating the next song, clapping at the first few notes because that’s your favorite song being played right there.

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At the start of 2015, I told myself that I am going to watch as many concerts as I could. It helps that my job allows me to watch concerts for free through invites but there are times when I do not mind shelling out my own money just to see an artist sing live, alongside, is the hope that a favorite song will be included in the set list.

Verjube Photographics made it possible for me to talk about the four foreign acts that stood out for me this year.

Time to make a mess with Incubus                   

I missed Incubus’ first three concerts here in Manila for some reasons so when I found out they’ll be playing again for the fourth time, I bought the VIP ticket on the very first ticket-selling day. They’re one of my favorite bands in the world so I was counting the days ‘til March 13, excitement and anticipation building up as it gets closer.

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And then the day came. I couldn’t forget how I was almost in tears the moment I saw Brandon Boyd (vocals), Mike Einziger (lead guitar), Jose Pasillas (drums), Ben Kenney (bass guitar), and DJ Chris Kilmore (turntables and keyboards) on stage as the first few notes of “Wish You Were Here” was being played. Video courtesy of Aldous Castro.

Brandon started singing and I was hooked the rest of the night that when I checked my phone after, I only had photos I could count with my fingers. All eyes and ears on the band.

Incubus played for almost two hours singing their timeless hits — and new songs from their “Trust Fall” album — which thousands of fans who trooped to Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City came to listen to, mostly millennials who witnessed the artistry and commercial success of the band.

Incubus played favorites like “Anna Molly,” “Made for TV Movie (with Lionel Richie’s “Hello” snippet), “Vitamin,” “Dig,” and “Circles.” They also sang two songs “Trust Fall” and “Absolution Calling” from their new album and “Adolescents” and “In the Company of Wolves” from their “If Not Now, When” album. Almost everyone in the crowd were either singing along, screaming, or calling Brandon’s name (I’m guilty with all three).

Then came my favorite part of the show. Incubus played “Drive,” the song that connected me to the band during my high school years when I was being swept away by the boy band craze. I fell in love with the song; it became my anthem when I was feeling down and lonely. I was standing in that moment, eyes closed, losing myself in the music, vivid pictures of special memories flashing in my mind. It was pure bliss.

It was followed by “Pardon Me,” and “Megalomaniac” with the crowd going wild especially when Brandon took off his shirt divulging beautifully-crafted tattoos. Every single soul in the arena was singing on top of their lungs, at one point I heard alpha males shouting “I love you, Boyd” in the most manly and funny way.

The band ended the night with “The Warmth,” “I Miss You,” and “Crow Left of the Murder (With “She’s So Heavy by the Beatles snippet), mine ended in a state of euphoria.

‘Hanging By A Moment’ with Lifehouse

Lifehouse mostly played one song after the other the entire concert, letting their music do the talking, but halfway through vocalist Jason Wade blurted out his thoughts on being in Manila for the third time.

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“We missed you guys, so glad to be back here. We tell our friends wherever we go that our favorite place to play in the world is Manila! You guys are the best,” Jason said that had the fans screaming and cheering him on and totally clueless of what’s about to unfold.

And then Jason, all alone in the stage with his guitar and a spotlight on him, started strumming and singing “H2O” from their newest album “Out of the Wasteland” that silenced the fans, all eyes and ears on him and his music, just his soulful voice resonating in the whole Araneta Coliseum.

He did an acoustic set – “H20,” “Yesterday’s Son,” “Firing Squad,” “From Where You Are,” and “Everything” – that was so sincere and genuine and beautiful I keep wanting for more. The stripped down performance showed the band’s very core as far as music artistry is concerned.

It was the most magical nine-minute of my life right there.

Lifehouse, aside from Jason is composed of Rick Woolstenhulme, Jr. on drums, Bryce Soderberg on bass, and newest member Steve Stout on guitars, played a selection of their popular hits and new ones from their newest album.

They opened the concert with the song “Hurricane” followed by “All In,” “Between the Raindrops,” “One for the Pain,” and “Stardust,” which is my favorite from Out of Wasteland.

Jason then asked the crowd who are old school Lifehouse fans and almost every one raised their hands. The band started playing “Whatever It Takes” and I totally went nuts when they sang “Sick Cycle Carousel,” one of my all-time favorite Lifehouse songs aside from “Breathing.”

Other songs included on the setlist were “You and Me,” “All in All,” “Spin,” “Nerve Damage,” “Runaways,” “First Time” and “Broken.”

The band ended the night with their most popular song “Hanging by a Moment” and left the fans hanging and craving for more. Video courtesy of iams queenyb.

In the ‘Arms’ of Christina Perri

I didn’t expect Christina Perri to be that charming, appreciative and energetic on her “Head or Heart” concert, her first ever show in Manila held at the Araneta Coliseum on March 5. She was all over the stage every time she sings her upbeat songs and would ask the fans, whom she called friends, to sing along with her.

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To view more of Christina Perri photos, click this picture.

“I am personally so, so, so grateful that you guys have waited for me to come. I’ve been wanting to come here for five years. We’re so happy to be here. Thank you for choosing to be with us tonight. My heart is exploding right now, so thank you. Salamat,” was what I remember her telling after she opened the night with her songs “Trust,” “Shot Me in the Heart,” and “Run.” She then performed an intimate song entitled “Distance” from her first album “Lovestrong.”

She was very open and engaging, oftentimes telling her audience the story behind the song that she’s about to sing which revealed the personal battles that she has gone through.

“I wrote it about moving from my hometown to a town that is very faraway in order to chase my dreams. So this song is about not stopping until your dream came true. Like this [tonight], you are my dream,” she said about her song “Burning Gold.”

After singing “The Words” and “Butterfly,” the 28-year-old American singer started playing in her keyboards the first few notes of “Arms,” my favorite among her songs and it’s always nice to hear your favorite song being played live by the original singer. It was so heartfelt and lovely.

Other songs that she sang were “Lollipop,” “Lonely Child,”  Coldplay cover “A Sky Full of Stars”

“One Night,” “Be My Forever,” “Human,” and “I Believe.” The crowd went wild when she sang “A Thousand Years,” which was included in the “Twilight” movie soundtrack.

For the encore, she sang Ed Sheeran cover “Thinking Out Loud,” “Penguin,” “Jar of Hearts,” and “I Don’t Wanna Break.”

“I would like to make this song [“Jar of Hearts”] a big fat giant thank you note…,” she said before playing the song that launched her singing career. “I will remember this forever, I promise,” she added. Official music video of “Jar of Hearts” is courtesy of Christina Perri.

A ‘90s kid at The Jets concert

I had no expectations going to The Jets concert although during the presscon the Wolfgramm siblings Moana and Natalia (vocals), Leroy (guitar), Katharine (keyboards), Haini (bass guitar), Eddie (percussions), and Rudy (drums) said that there’ll be a lot of singing and dancing.

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To view more of The Jets photos, click this picture.

True enough the Wolfgramm siblings kept their promise and made the concert a night of pure singing and dancing, evoking nostalgia to the crowd who came in droves to listen to the songs they grew up listening. Presscon happenings video courtesy of Legato Music Magazine.

The Jets sang their popular hits like “You Got It All,” “Make It Real,” “Crush on You,” “La La Means I Love You,” “Anytime,” “Curiosity,” “Rocket2U,” and “Same Love.” The band was so game to share the stage (and the mic) to some of their avid fans who sang along with them.

The Jets decided to celebrate their 30th anniversary in the Philippines because they always see the country as their second home. The last time that they performed here was in 1997 and they even said in jest that they miss eating “balut,” which they had tried again before the concert to delight of the fans.

“It’s a blessing because we love coming to the Philippines, we’ve grown up with Filipino friends, everybody’s great musicians and singers so it’s always fun to come back to the Philippines,” Katharine said in the presscon.

The Jets also paid tribute to The Jackson 5 who became their inspiration when they were starting as a band. They ended the night with “Love Like This.”

“When we record our first album and we were looking for songs, our manager told us that we need to find a record that will be there forever and he was right. We have a hit song or a slow song that will always be with you. We’re just glad that it really worked out,” Eddie enthused.

And The Jets had a number of hit songs that until now you get to listen to on the radio. During the concert, I was fascinated by the fact that the songs that they were playing live were the songs that I always hear on the radio when I was a kid and how their fans present at the Kia Theater were so thrilled and proud that they came from the ‘80s.

It had me imagining that years from now some iconic ‘90s band will play in the country and I and my friends will be there at the concert and will turn it into a big sing-along party the way The Jets fans did it.

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