Monday, April 5, 2010

As1: Again

Photos and article by Jay Fermin (FMG)

Pasadena, California: Gary Valenciano has been the act to follow all these past 27 years and with no slowing down in sight, has returned to Pasadena for a repeat concert entitled AS1 with longtime balladeer, songwriter Martin Nievera. This show is produced by world-class Starmedia Entertainment headed by Ms. Anna Puno.

Forget that the two are perceived as archrivals on stage all these years by the fans, with Gary jokingly recollecting on the video intermission that his fans would go to a Martin concert just to find out what is being said of him.

However, this time it's different. In an ambitious collaboration, they embarked on a world tour entitled ‘AS1’ with both of them sharing the stage and the limelight, as well as showing the creative merging of songs that fans have associated with each of them thru these years, not competing but complimenting each other.

This was double treat to the fans, and when I arrived at Pasadena Civic Center on a warm March afternoon, there is no question that, although this was a repeat performance from the October 2009 show in the same venue, the house was full packed and sold out once again. I personally have not seen the October concert, and when my editor (Star Times) sent me to cover the show, I did not know what to expect. Of course, I have seen them perform before, Gary going back to when he was beginning to break the concert scene in 1983, and Martin during the Pops and Martin days. But tonight will be different.

The show took off boldly with the anthem rock and roll beat of Martin & Gary doing a rendition of Martin’s ‘On The Right Track’ and followed up with an absolutely fast and amazing dance moves by the two performers to Gary’s ‘Hataw Na’ which had the audience explode in applause, seeing Martin mimicking Gary’s fast dance rhythm. Martin has proven to the delight of the audience that he can keep up with Gary’s synchronized moves, sweat and all. Who said he can’t dance?

Martin’s comedic rantings had the audience laughing in between songs and especially during the tribute to MJ when Martin was complaining that ‘ there was no budget for sleeves’ for his tux. A big band rendition of ‘Billy Jean’and ‘Beat It’ had Gary showing off his moonwalk illuminated by the follow Spotlight.

They did tribute to 80’s big bands like Toto, Tears For Fears, Journey, culminating the segment with Chicago’s ‘You’re The Inspiration.’

The beauty of the repertoire and arrangements were crafted by no other than Mon Faustino as Musical Director. Martin’s love ballads ‘Say That You Love Me’ and ‘Be My Lady’ were complimented not only by Gary’s high energy praise ‘Sa Yahweh’ and ‘Shout For Joy’ but the familiar and heartwarming ‘I Will Be Here’ and the classic ‘Take Me Out Of The Dark.’ This inspirational portion of Gary’s concerts are always what uplifts the audience including myself, and of course his unwavering personal testimony to God, which is well known in the industry. On this night, even Martin became a little emotional, perhaps touched from above, and Gary aptly giving him a hug but pointing upwards, as if to give glory for these brief sweet moments, which could happen anywhere, even onstage!

And as the night progressed, it was pure musical entertainment thru and thru from these two world-class singers. No one can stop the grinning smile and teary eyes of those seated behind me when they heard the Filipino themes medley , a collection of musical scores from Filipino movies which included ‘Nong Tayo’s Magkalayo, You Are My Song, Ikaw Ang Pangarap, And I Love You So, How Did You Know, and Kahit Isang Saglit,’ transporting the audience back into the heavy drama of the movies they were made for.

The crowd now edged forward and most were dancing as Gary and Martin wrapped it up with the lively rendition of Earth, Wind, & Fire medley of songs ‘Fantasy, Reasons, Let’s Grove, and September.’ All I can see are I-Phones and camera phones amidst the heads of the dancing audience trained on the two performers jamming it up as they reach for the hands of fans. Pasadena erupts in joyous celebration of another very successful U.S. Tour.

They were good performers by themselves alone. Tonight, they have come together as one. All I can say is that the two are really better – together.

(Other shows: Washington DC, Tampa , Arlington, Texas, Connecticut, and Reno)