LONDON - The Reo Brothers from Tacloban became the first Filipino musicians to perform at the historic Cavern Club in Liverpool, England, the birthplace of iconic British band The Beatles.
The Manila-based band - composed of real life brothers RJ (lead guitar), Reno (drums), Ralph (bass) and Raymart (rhythm guitar) - embarked on a short UK tour between August 1-3, kicking off with a performance at the famous British club where their musical heroes first rose to fame.
“It was a dream come true,” RJ told ABS-CBN Europe, “especially at the Cavern where we performed. And it’s where The Beatles started, where they became famous, and we stood on the same stage.”
Raymart added: “We’re so happy with the response we’ve had from the audience. It’s not a joke playing abroad in front of a mixed crowd.”
Following their UK debut in Liverpool, the brothers - dubbed by some as ’The Beatles of the Philippines’ - continued with concerts in Birmingham and London, playing to British and Filipino fans of all ages from across the UK and beyond.
Their set list included popular songs from The Beatles, as well as other well-known tracks predominantly from the 1960s and 70s, ranging from sweet love songs to upbeat rock’n’roll.
Off stage, the group found time to visit significant places along the way including the houses of each Beatle member in Liverpool, and the world-famous Abbey Road in London, where they indulged in an impromptu performance with just their voices, hands, and a guitar.
Yet the band nearly missed their UK trip altogether, after drummer Reno fell ill with a strong cold last week, pushing back their tour into the following week, which meant that venues and tickets had to be rebooked.
Despite the challenges, however, the group made it in the end and proceeded to dazzle an eager crowd of music lovers across the country.
“It’s great to meet fans in the UK, and those who came from other places just to see us. We’d like to thank all of them for their support for us. Thank you so much,” said Raymart.
British fan David Lawrence was among them, after discovering the brothers by chance on social networking site Facebook.
The 65-year-old from St Alban’s has been impressed with the band ever since, and has even managed to watch every single live performance of their 2014 UK tour.
“They’re so good,” he said. “They don’t copy The Beatles, they’re themselves. A lot of the groups they try and make out that they are The Beatles, but they are always themselves.”
US-based Filipino fan Manny de Guzman, 62, travelled all the way from San Francisco to London just to see and meet the group. He became a “die-hard fan” after seeing the brothers at ABS-CBN’s 2013 Christmas Special.
“When I heard about the London concert, I tried my best to come here, and I made it. They’re fantastic, they’re great, and they’re fabulous. They’re so down to Earth,” he said.
The story of Reo Brothers captivated millions of people in the Philippines from December of last year, and it’s also starting to gain attention in the international stage.
The brothers are part of the Otic family, originally based in Tacloban, one of the places worst hit by supertyphoon Haiyan (Yolanda) in November 2013.
The family survived, but lost everything they owned which forced them to become homeless and penniless. They eventually managed to contact relatives in the Manila, and decided to make a move to the capital for a fresh start.
In order to make a living and forge a career in music, the four brothers in the band, which they started as a hobby in 2009, found the courage to contact a well-connected man who saw them in Tacloban previously and offered his help.
Since then, the group appeared in numerous TV shows including Rated K on ABS-CBN in the Philippines, and even The Dr Oz Show in the US. They have also performed on various concerts around the world, including Tokyo, California, and New York.
Despite their success, however, the Reo Brothers remain connected to their roots in Tacloban. They told ABS-CBN Europe that they would like to see their city fully recover from the aftermath of Haiyan. And when the time is right, they are even hoping for a homecoming concert dedicated to their hometown and its people.
And it might just happen. With a young age ranging between 17 and 24, coupled with talent and a growing fan base worldwide, anything is still possible for these rising stars.