Rock icon Pepe Smith performs in London

By Patrick Camara Ropeta, ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau

Posted at Dec 21 2012 10:24 AM | Updated as of Dec 22 2012 08:33 PM

LONDON - Legendary Pinoy rocker Joey ‘Pepe’ Smith conquered the stage in the British capital as special guest on the first ever Pambansang Musiklaban in the UK.

Rocker Pepe Smith signed autographs for eager fans at The Harrow Club in West London/Patrick Ropeta

The rock star from iconic 70's Filipino band Juan De La Cruz brought classic rock anthems to The Harrow Club near Notting Hill in West London.

“I really enjoyed it with the back up band I had. We’re really rocking and cool,” he told ABS-CBN News after his first ever stage performance in London.

Dubbed as “Mick Jagger of the Philippines,” the mixed Filipino-American rock icon was mobbed by excited fans in London, most of whom screamed and jumped onto the stage at the first sight of their idol.

“Wow, ang saya. Nakakadala. I never thought I’d really enjoy it. Thank you,” said Smith, who flew all the way from the Philippines for the special appearance.

He was guest of honor at the inaugural Pambansang Musiklaban UK, a competition for Filipino rock bands based in Britain.

Pambansang Musiklaban UK 2012

Five bands battled it out for this year’s title, performing live in front of a panel of judges with experience in the music industry, as well as dozens of loud rock fans.

“The bands are top class,” said Ron Albano, organizer of the event.

He added: “They are musicians from the Philippines who happen to move abroad for work, but they never lost their passion for music.”

Heavy metal band Doppelganger clinched 3rd place, while veteran pop rock act Ekiz Band placed in 2nd.

But the night belonged to young indie band Firebox, whose mixture of contemporary tracks and modern renditions of classic tunes won the hearts of both the judges and audiences, ultimately bagging the top spot in the competition.

Firebox won the first ever Pambansang Musiklaban UK with their catchy indie sound/Patrick Ropeta

“We’re happy but we didn’t expect it because everyone was good,” the band said.

They added: “Usually Pinoys abroad are only seen as workers, nurses, or housekeepers. At least now we have proven that we’re not only good at boxing and cleaning, but with singing and music as well.”

As this year’s winner, Firebox received the £1,000 cash prize, along with a music video deal and a UK tour performing in various 2013 Barrio Fiesta events across the country. They will also get a chance to participate in Musiklaban 2013 in Manila, a national music competition in the Philippines supported by Pepe Smith.