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Concert Review 2


"Regine Unplugged" Review

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Business World, August 14, 1995
written by V.S. Bunoan


    The last time Regine Velasquez had a solo concert (at the Mandarin
Oriental Hotel), she had just broken up with boyfriend Ariel Rivera. The
show was marked with melancholy and she even broke down in tears during a
spiel. But the songbird can joke about it now, at least during her concert
last weekend at the Music Museum. In introducing "Simpleng Babae," she
referred to the line "simple lang," which is the title of one of Rivera's
songs. The audience teased her and she just laughed it off.
    In fact, Velasquez was quite animated throughout the show.
Unfortunately, the audience members, who are used to Velasquez's vocal
pyrotechnics, weren't as excited as she was. In fact, the only time her
fans went wild was when Velasquez did "Sana Maulit Muli" and that was for
the encore. Velasquez explained early on that with the show's
back-to-basics, acoustic format, she wouldn't do many of her show-stopping
belting numbers. Backed by acoustic guitars and a grand piano, her
repertoire consisted basically of '70s folkish hits.
    But this is not to say the audience left the Music Museum
disappointed. In fact, many said how nice the concert was as they queued
for the exit.
    Velasquez's music doesn't really change much in an acoustic
setting, but without the soaring synthesizers to compete with, she can
pretty much afford to be laidback in terms of vocals. One of the most
popular stars to benefit from the unplugged format is belter Mariah Carey
and Velasquez did borrow some ideas - not songs - from Carey's MTV
Unplugged show.
    Like Carey, Velasquez also infused a lot of gospel elements,
particularly in the opening number, "Listen to the Music" and in the
finale, "Let It Be." But for the most part, the music was introspective
folk from the likes of Carole King ("So Far Away"), Janis Ian ("At
Seventeen"), America ("Tin Man") and Dan Fogelberg ("Leader of the Band"
which she dedicated to her father, Gerry). Her production numbers included
Seals & Crofts medley of "I"ll Play for You," "We May Never Pass This Way
Again" and "Summer Breeze," plus another medley she first did in Side A's
'Homebound' concert (a medley of "I'll Always Love You," "Love is All That
Matters," "Longer" and "Of All the Things").
    Only three recent foreign songs landed in the repertoire including
Kathy Trocolli's cover of "Never My Love" and Kevyn Lettau's "Sunlight"
which is also the theme song of Cali 10, one of the show's sponsors.
    While the foreign covers were mostly from two decades ago, the OPM
songs were definitely '90s like Color It Red's "Paglisan" and the
Eraserheads' "With a Smile" which she turned into an audience participation
    While she thrilled the Side A fans with a dance diva turn in "Best
of My Love" originally by the Emotions, for Music Museum she chose to sing
the Eagles' "Best of My Love."
    Although a lot of these songs were already unplugged when they were
first recorded, Velasquez and musical director Lorrie Ilustre also made
some acoustic versions of popular songs like "One Hello." In fact, one of
the enjoyable parts was when Velasquez did a piano duet with Ilustre, which
segued into "Falling."
    But the show's highlight was still "Sana Maulit Muli." Although
the song's keyboard intro is perhaps one of the more recognizable musical
passages hereabouts, guitarist Cesar Aguas (who also did the acoustic
arrangement of "You" by Velasquez-wannabe Roselle Nava) stripped the song
to the bones and further highlighted its painful lyrics and slow rhythms.
As the song went into its modulations with Velasquez starting to belt, she
suddenly stopped and allowed the lonesome guitar to finish the song.
    The show also had a casual approach in terms of direction (by her
manager Ronnie Henares), with Velasquez sometimes slumped on the floor,
talking to the audience. No obvious spiels, back-up dancers and gowns, in
keeping with the refreshing quality of the arrangements which highlighted
the pristine quality of Velasquez's voice.
    With all of her 5 back-up musicians now on acoustic guitar,
Velasquez bade goodbye with Ben Taylor's cover of "I Will," which
admonishes to "sing it loud so I can hear you." But this time, Velasquez
does it sweetly and softly and still proves to be endearing to her fans.
She knows they will.


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