Rizal Underground’s Stephen Lu embarks on European tour

Rick Olivares

Posted at May 15 2019 04:48 PM

Stephen Lu. Photo from the artist's Facebook page

MANILA -- Stephen Lu can feel the fire in his bones. 

After a long hiatus, Lu is back to actively performing and touring with his band, the Rockoustic Blues Experiment. As a follow up to his successful five-city American tour in 2018, Lu is headed for the Old Continent later this month on a five-nation tour that will run almost two months.

Lu will kick off his European sojourn – dubbed the “Sabado Nights European Tour Series” -- with three shows in England (May 24, 25, and June 1) followed by a couple of shows in the Netherlands (June 7 and 8), then Italy (June 16 and 23), and France (June 21).

When Lu’s two daughters graduated last year, they all celebrated by going for a vacation in the United States. “Since I was already there, I thought, ‘why not perform as well?’” he said.

If the US tour was marked by family, the European version will be a solo flight. 

Lu will be playing solo and without his Rockoustic Blues Experiment bandmates. He’ll work with different Filipino musicians in each country, much like he did in the United States. 

“It is a function of cost,” deadpanned Lu. “I am coming off with playing with seasoned veterans such as the Villegas brothers (Angelo and Mike) and Harley Alarcon with Rizal Underground and guys like Bong Eudela, Pex Holigores, and Nikko Tirona with Rockoustic Blues Experiment. So I am playing with musicians who I have never played with my entire life. But again, this is a function of cost. It worked out anyways in the United States so I don’t see how it cannot work out this time in Europe.”

"While in the US, I met a lot of Filipinos in their 30s and up who missed those familiar home comforts,” related Lu. “And when someone comes over, they welcome him. And I played some really satisfying shows.”

Lu will be performing songs from his Rizal Underground days such as “Sabado Nights” and “Bilanggo” to some of his more recent fare with the Rockoustic Blues Experiment where he covered songs by Tropical Depression (“Mahal Na Mahal Kita”) and Binky Lampano (“Loveland”). 

It was recording "In-Flight" that stoked the longtime rocker’s fires anew. “It was (Orange and Lemons/The Camerawalls vocalist) Clem Castro who encouraged me to do all this,” related Lu. “Nagkasabay kami sa Boracay and we got to talk. He asked, ‘Hindi ka ba magre-recording?’ He challenged. And I thought about it and I am glad he convinced me to do this.”

The EP and the tours have revitalized this musician who is also working on some projects with friends from the band scene in the 1990s. 

“It’s all good because it has given me new ideas for songs and projects. And traveling and changes in scenery really help. They give you a fresh perspective on things which we as artists really need from time to time.”