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Concert Review 4



"Isang Pasasalamat" review

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Business World, April 22, 1996
written by V.S. Bunoan


Regine Velasquez tried to joke about it. Three-fourths into her
thanksgiving concert, "Isang Pasasalamat," at the U.P. Sunken Garden last
Saturday, the heavens opened up and rained on her parade. She noted that it
usually rains during her concerts and there are superstitious performers
who equate a few drops from the sky as a sign of good luck.

She tried to shrug it off (the weather) and continued with the show with
the catchy "Follow the Sun" which ironically, turned out to be her last
song for the evening.

Initially, it looked like a typical summer drizzle, with big raindrops
which usually connote short spells. But, the rain just kept on and turned
itno a freakish heavy downpour.

Bob Serrano of the Tux came onstage with an umbrella to shield the singer
who was already at a loss. She started to cry as she helplessly looked at
the musical director Ryan Cayabyab and the rest of her musicians. She told
the audience that there would be a short break and expressed the hope that
they wouldn't leave right away.

Many had already headed for their cars and traffic started to get heavy
around the university parade grounds. Others sought shelter at whatever
covered area they could find. Many, however, patiently gathered around the
stage, waiting for a cue.

Then Velasquez, together with father, Gerry and manager, Ronnie Henares,
came out and the singer waved goodbye to the people. She was then rushed
off the grounds surrounded by the production people.


Just a few hours earlier, traffic was heavy along Quezon Avenue and throngs
of concertgoers flocked to Philcoa to grab a bite to eat, filling up joints
like Jollibee and McDonald's. Many were keeping their eyes open for the
Victory Liner buses which provided free shuttle service to U.P. for the
concert. Those who opted to bring cars quickly filled every parking space
down to the Faculty Center and the U.P. Engineering building.

The stage was built near the U.P. College of Law facing the U.P. College of
Education, instead of at the grandstand in front of the U.P. College of
Business Administration. The stage was set up as early as Friday, a massive
structure decked with pillars adorned with angels plus two video walls.
Towers for the speakers and lights dwarfed the stage while the covered
sound booth was set up in front of the stage.

Had they opted to simply enlarge the covered grandstand, then perhaps the
concert should have continued as the crowd seemed to be willing to get
soaked in the summer rain.

This being a free concert as an expression of gratitude to her fans for
supporting her for the last 10 years (and also to celebrate her birthday
which is today), the repertoire featured a lot of her hits, as well as
songs which audiences have grown to expect from her.


Backed up by a full orchestra, which did an overture, Velasquez opened the
show with her huge local hit, "Narito Ako," then after a welcoming spiel,
went right away with another chart-topper, "Kung Maibabalik Ko Lang."

Breaking the ice with a fast number, "Best of My Love," she then sang her
current hit, "You've Made Me Stronger," before introducing the first in a
long list of guests. Musical arranger and composer Louie Ocampo, who served
as her musical director in many of her Folk Arts Theater concerts,
accompanied her for "Say That You Love Me."

More guests joined Velasquez onstage - Bernardo Bernardo, Ivy Violan,
Nanette Inventor and the Tux - who sang a 'Friends' medley, which was
immediately followed by her first hit, "Urong Sulong."

What really gets her fans all excited is when she hits those thrilling high
notes in her familiar belting manner. This she incorporated in a medley
revolving around the anthem "You'll Never Walk Alone" from 'Carousel,'
which also included the emotional "And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going" from
'Dreamgirls,' and "Home."

Although this sounds like the concert's much touted Broadway medley
arranged especially for her by Cayabyab, that production number was to come
later on, after she slowed things a bit with Whitney Houston's "Exhale
(Shoop, Shoop)." Calling on her perennial singing partner, Janno Gibbs, the
duo then plunged into this special medley of show tunes, starting with
"Tonight" from 'West Side Story,' followed by "As If We
Never Said Goodbye" from 'Sunset Boulevard,' "I Dreamed a Dream" from 'Les
Miserables' and "All I Ask of You" from 'Phantom of the Opera.' Cayabyab
arranged the songs in a pop-jazz style, most evident in "All I Ask of You"
which sounded as if it was redone by David Benoit.

Velasquez turned socially conscious with her next two songs which talked
about poverty in the country and were accompanied by a video. Velasquez
sang a plaintive "Bahay," followed by her hit, "Isang Lahi" which calls for

The singer and her fans were then given a surprise when Martin Nievera came
onstage with Louie Ocampo. Nievera, who was not included in the original
guest list, hugged Velasquez then joined her in an impromptu performance of
"Forever" with Ocampo on the piano.

After an orchestral number with Cayabyab on the grand piano ("Aguas de
Invierno"), Velasquez strolled in a white backless gown with a hood, which
became a portent of things to come. Midway through her spiel, it began
drizzling, but not strong enough to keep her from what was the evening's
highlight. Her fans know of her loyal devotion to Barbra Streisand and with
the magic of video, and the musical talents of Cayabyab, there was
Velasquez doing a duet with Streisand. The American singer was doing
"Somewhere," probably taken from her 'One Voice' concert, but Cayabyab did
a special counterpoint for Velasquez which climaxed with the two singers
trading high notes for the final part.

"Follow the Sun" had Velasquez singing in the rain, and that was it.

    Things Missed

As per the sequence guide, there would have been four more numbers in the
show excluding the encores. Velasquez was supposed to do a spiel
acknowledging the sponsors as well as promoting her upcoming film, "Wanted:
Perfect Mother," and introducing her sister, Cacai who had just signed a
record deal. The four songs would have been "His Eye on the Sparrow," "Sana
Maulit Muli," "When the Songbird Sings" and finally, "Never Ever Say
Goodbye." Her encores would have been "What Kind of Fool Am I?" and a Diana
Ross medley of "All of My Life" and "Touch Me in the Morning."

Ida Ramos-Henares, wife of Ronnie Henares (Velasquez's manager), said it
would be unlikely that the show would be restaged in the future. Holed up
in one of the tents that served as production rooms for the concert, she
said setting up such a concert is difficult.

However, she said the concert, or whatever of it was completed, will be
televised as a special.

This was not the first time an open-air concert featuring a local female
performer had to be cancelled due to rain. Pops Fernandez had a more dismal
experience during "Always Pops" at the Rizal Memorial Football Field. Rain
poured right before the show, making it risky to continue. She managed to
tearfully render a song "I Don't Want You to Go" before finally cancelling
the concert.


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