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Concert Review 1




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"Songbird Sings Streisand... Again" review         

Business World, April 22, 1995
written by V.S. Bunoan

    A female vocalist making her annual pilgrimage and a
still-hanging-on male singer testing new waters are what's being offered at
the Mandarin Oriental Hotel for April. Now on its second month, the
Captain's Bar Weekend Spectaculars are quickly catching on, judging from
the attendance during its first weekend. [The show will resume tonight.]
    In the case of "Songbird Sings Streisand...Again," it also proved
that despite all the controversy, people are still interested in watching
Regine Velasquez do what she does best.
    Velasquez has been performing every April at the Captain's Bar for
several years now to mark her birthday (April 22) and this concert was
staged almost right after it was announced that she and boyfriend Ariel
Rivera had split up. Velasquez had been the target of several negative
write-ups because of the relationship which some industry people believe
affected her popularity. Velasquez herself was surprised at the packed
venue, telling the audience, "akala ko wala ng manonood kasi ang feeling ko
na half of the Philippines hates me."

    It was an emotional performance. Although Velasquez was trying to
control herself throughout most of the concert, she broke into tears after
doing a medley of "The Way He Makes Me Feel" and "No Matter What Happens"
from 'Yentl.'
    "I would like to apologize because I'm so emotional," she said.
She tried to shrug it off, assuring herself that these things do happen and
thanked her family, her friends, God and the audience for continuing to
support her. She then turned her back to hide her tears which she wiped
with a handy tissue.
    At one point in the program, after she had just finished a sad
number, she commented that the repertoire was depressing and after looking
at her list of songs, she ordered the band to skip the next tune which
would have been "You'll Never Know."
    After giving in to the audience's request for an encore - she did
"All I Asked of You" - an obviously distressed Velasquez left the venue
immediately, accompanied by members of her personal management team. In
previous shows, she would linger to greet friends, sign autographs and pose
for pictures but obviously, she was in no mood for socializing.

    For all the drama that marked the opening night, the show also
showcased a different kind of Velasquez, even when compared with her most
recent solo show, "Regine.....Animated," last December. With Homer Flores
on the piano, the concert was marked by very subdued vocals, which many
times during the show were barely above whisper level. The patented
belting came far apart, as if Velasquez was on "relax" mode. This was made
more obvious in "Somewhere" which this time around, had a hushed ending.
    Despite the absence of the usual vocal fireworks, Velasquez showed
greater control, a surer sense of line and a more original style. In the
first show last year, she stayed very close to the recorded arrangements.
Although there were numbers, such as the "Second Hand Rose" medley, which
were carbon copies down to the Jewish accent, she was able to add something
new to the material like a simple high note in an otherwise breezy tune
("Tomorrow"). Often, she and Flores stripped down Streisand's sweeping
arrangements and transformed them into something more intimate and
personal, as in "People."

    Even her technique was different. We couldn't really pinpoint her
placements but her tones were clear and her phrasing, languid. For lack of
an appropriate English term, her singing was 'malinis,' especially "On a
Clear Day" and "As If We Never Said Goodbye." It was also noticeable that
she had firm control of her vibrato and in fact, she deemed it better not
to use it in some passages which somehow made the sound purer.
    Then of course, she was able to express emotions of the songs which
in previous performances she made up for the lack with vocal power.
    In a way, all the controversy added a new dimension to her vocals
but it is worth the sadness and pain? Maybe not at the moment but
experience is always, in the end, the best teacher.


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