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Concert Review 3



"Power of 2" Review

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Business World, June 15, 1996
written by V.S. Bunoan


    Times have really changed for the country's solo pop artists. Gone
are the days when they ruled the local airwaves and concert scene, filling
major venues like the Araneta Coliseum with fanfare and screaming fans.
    Now bands, rock or otherwise, have caused a major shift in the
taste of the typical concertgoer. The market for concerts are basically
the young and the new generation of music lovers is not as enamored by the
razzle-dazzle of pop acts. Instead, they identify with popular sentiments
espoused by acts like the Eraserheads and Rivermaya.
    But pop acts have not totally vanished from the scene. Some like
Gary V., have chosen to join the bandwagon, teaming up with Side A in a
forthcoming show at the Big Dome.
    Kuh Ledesma and Regine Velasquez on the other hand, chose to mold
their talents and drawing power in a month-long concert series at the Music
Museum. Billed "Power of 2," it is the first time the two female singers
have joined forces for a show, although Ledesma is credited for producing
Velasquez's very first show, "Regine at 17," at a hotel ballroom years ago.
    The result is a packed house. Last Saturday, a big sign that read
"Sold Out" was plastered on the marque of the Music Museum.
    Despite some well publicized shortcomings during opening night such
as mangled spiels and lack of rapport, "Power of 2" should continue to play
well in the weeks to come due to the sheer concept of having two of our
top female artists together in one concert. Individually, both can easily
fill up the Music Museum as Ledesma did in her "Akuhstic" series and
Velasquez in her similar unplugged gigs. Together, this is the closest to
a sure thing if ever there is one.
    That both are heavily into acoustic music nowadays is one of the
reasons they have teamed up for this concert. But, "Power of 2" is also
the culmination of Ledesma's long-running "Akuhstic Café" series which is
being televised as a monthly special.
    That is actually an important factor. Despite an all-duet
repertoire, "Power of 2" seems more like a Kuh Ledesma concert with her
trusty musical director Rey Cristobal leading the 7-man acoustic band and
Floy Quintos directing.
    In fact, only one Velasquez original made it to the final line-up,
the bouncy "Follow the Sun" which was written by Glenn Medeiros. Ledesma
erroneously introduced it as Velasquez's latest hit, when "You are My Song"
is the one currently climbing up the charts. ["You are My Song wasn't
included in the repertoire.]
    Meanwhile, Ledesma has 3 of her hits sung in the concert:
"Bulaklak," which saw the 2 singers alternating while singing it in
Tagalog, English and French; "Sino ang Baliw," using the Ryan Cayabyab
arrangement done for 'Ako ay Pilipino' and "Magbalik Ka Na Mahal" from the
musical, 'Rama Hari.'
    Some songs are also more suited for Ledesma's voice, such as
Madonna's "Rain" which had Velasquez reduced to a mere back-up singer and
Everything But the Girl's "Missing" (the Todd Terry mix arrangement), whose
inclusion seemed to provide time for a costume change.
    This is not to say Velasquez got the raw end of the deal. She
managed to show off her range in numbers such as "Because You Loved Me,"
"Power of a Woman" and "I'm Every Woman," although she did seem
    Still, the team-up brought out the best in both, with Velasquez
gaining subtlety in her vocal performance while Ledesma introduced more
power and precision in her attacks. Their voices actually work well
together, Ledesma's creamy quality makes a good bed for Velasquez's head
tones, falsettos and shrills.
    The opening number was a reworking of "Somewhere" which Velasquez
first performed in her rained-out open-air anniversary concert at U.P.,
singing with a video clip of Barbra Streisand. Ledesma did the Streisand
part, while Velasquez provided the counterpoint, ending on a powerful note.
    The two worked their way through a diverse repertoire which
include songs from Seal to James Taylor. Ledesma's best solo moment was in
a dramatic, soulful rendition of "You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman,"
while Velasquez was precise in "Because You Loved Me" and playful in "I'm
Every Woman."
    Two back-to-back numbers acted as the show's centerpiece.
Cristobal managed to counterpoint "A Special Memory" and "Friend of Mine"
into a melodious piece. This was followed by "One Less Bell to Answer/A
House is Not a Home" which was easily the evening's highlight.
    The weakest point was the 'Chess' duet, "I Know Him So Well," as
they opted for the Whitney and Cissy Houston gospel-tinged arrangement
which was beyond Ledesma's range. Perhaps, they should have stuck with the
original arrangement for the musical.
    "Count on Me" which is currently receiving airplay, was a
predictable and weak choice to end the concert but the two made it up with
the encore, a duet version of "Evergreen" arranged exclusively for them by
Babsie Molina, with Velasquez doing the melody line and Ledesma doing the
harmony. This is an entirely different duet from the one used in the movie
which was sung by Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson.
    As both are avid admirers of Streisand, it is not surprising to
find a number of Streisand numbers in the repertoire. The two also
included 'The King and I' medley of "We Kiss in the Shadow," "I Have
Dreamed" and "Something Wonderful" from 'The Broadway Album.' However, why
didn't they include "No More Tears (Enough is Enough)," Streisand's duet
with Donna Summer? It would have made a better choice than "Rain."
    If the audience wasn't rapturous with its applause, it had to do
basically with the relaxed pace of the show and the singing. Those who
are looking for more bombastic piece from Velasquez may be disappointed,
and usually, it is songs like those which get local audiences to their feet.
    Instead, "Power of 2," despite the title which is also an Indigo
Girls song that isn't in the repertoire (not popular enough, they
reasoned), is a classy lounge show with a shrewdly safe mix of old and new
songs delivered with pop star panache.

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