There were no front act or guest to alternately regale the audience in the “Solo” concert of Asia’s Songbird, Regine Velasquez, staged for the Valentine’s weekend at the Samsung Performing Arts Theater.
From start to finish, it was only Velasquez who ruled the stage and held the audience at the palm of her hand. She casually delivered her spiels, talked to her audience, and joked around.
The venue was filled with her throng of fans who were endlessly screaming at every chance they got, from the orchestra up to the third level. The fans made sure they were heard.
In the past, Velasquez staged successful Valentine’s concerts, but always with a fellow artist. Two years ago, she even did a virtual Valentine’s show that was promoted digitally.
It is only now that she relented to do a “Solo” concert on Valentine’s from start to finish.
From the bottom of the stage, Velasquez was hoisted up to surprise her full-house crowd. Her band and back-up singers were behind a thin, white backdrop and were not seen onstage. She was literally “Solo” throughout the show.
She opened the concert with Donna Lewis’ “I Love You Always Forever.” That started two hours of new tunes, most of which Velasquez sang for the first time.
After more than three decades in the music industry, Velasquez still sang in perfect pitch. While her other contemporaries opt to carry out their songs in a lower pitch, Velasquez dauntlessly sang every piece in her stratospheric key.
At one point, she enjoined the crowd to sing along with her when she belted out Adie’s “Paraluman.” However, many complained they couldn’t do so. “Mataas.”
She casually snapped back, “Pasensya na. ‘Yun ang key ng lola niyo.“
The repertoire expectedly consisted of soothing tunes about love – falling in love, staying blindly in love, getting broken hearted, moving on.
Velasquez credited her long-time musical director, Raul Mitra, for her choice of new tunes in her repertoire. They have worked closely together through the years.
He constantly suggests tunes that she can include in her set list, knowing her enviable range. While some may not instantly be in her comfort zone, the songs were tried out by Velasquez. She is constantly thankful to him.
“Solo” is also produced by Velasquez’s sister-manager and “live basher,” Cacai Mitra. Stage director is Paolo Valenciano.
Interestingly, in some of the love songs, Velasquez did a duet with herself on the LED screen – something that amused even the Songbird. Talk about advanced technology, where everything is now amazingly possible.
Velasquez carried out tunes that were not normally in her repertoire – from Zach Tabudlo’s “Binibini” and Parokya ni Edgar’s “Okay Lang Ako” to Charlie Puth’s “We Don’t Talk Anymore,” JVKE’s “Golden Hour” and Dua Lipa’s “Love Again.”
She effortlessly gave justice to every piece. She included her haunting version of The Juan’s “Istorya,” which she earlier reprised.
Naturally, there were hits – Madonna’s “Crazy for You,” Juris Fernandez’s “Now That You’re Gone,” Ella May Saison’s “Till My Heartaches End” and Kyla’s “If the Feeling Is Gone.”
She did more covers of love tunes – “I’ll Be Over You” by Toto, “Both Sides Now” by Joni Mitchell, Abba’s “The Winner Takes It All” and even “Flashlight” by Jessie J.
Surprisingly, there were very few original songs of Velasquez that made it to her line-up. She rekindled “Tanging Mahal,” her classic tune from two decades ago.
Her signature songs were not on the set list, but her “You Made Me Stronger” was included, a song about moving on.
In a medley of classic love songs by Elvis Presley – “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” “Love Me Tender” and “You Were Always On My Mind” – Velasquez also shared with the crowd how her dad and mom met sometime ago in Leyte.
In the poignant “Extraordinary Magic,” originally by JJ Heller, snaps of the Songbird with her only son, Nate, were flashed on the screen.
In the audience that night were Megastar Sharon Cuneta, Vice Ganda and Angeline Quinto.
Her back-up band included Cesar Aguas, Ric San Ruiz, Karel Honasan, Mike Luis, with Sway Medina and Yosha Honasan.
Velasquez’s outfits were by Cocoy Lizaso.
As in her previous concerts, Velasquez returned onstage for her encore without her heels. She even casually slumped down in her gown when she sang her reimagined version of Nonoy Zuñiga’s “Araw Gabi.”
Velasquez closed the concert with George Michael’s powerful “Freedom” and profusely thanked the full-house crowd.
“Solo” will have three more performance dates – tonight, February 24 and 25 at the Samsung Performing Arts Theater at Circuit Mall in Makati City.
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