MANILA -- Making Sharon Cuneta and Regine Velasquez share the stage anew in the second iteration of their “Iconic” concert in 2019 was not a difficult task for any producer.
To begin with, both artists were very much willing to perform together. It was just a matter of perfect timing and following the right protocols to make the second “Iconic” happen.
This time, a two-night engagement at the Marriott Grand Ballroom at Resorts World Manila preceded their nine-city US concert tour that will start July 17 in Pasadena, California.
On Friday night, the first night of “Iconic,” Velasquez sauntered into the stage, quite similar to the first set-up, but less grand than what Araneta Coliseum had. She crooned the familiar “Pangarap na Bituin,” that had the Megastar joining her in the refrain.
In only the second duet of “You Are My Song,” the audience immediately sang with them. More of the Megastar’s hits followed – “Mr. DJ,” “High School Life,” “P.S. I Love You” and “Dear Heart.”
Two hours will definitely not be enough to squeeze in their respective, signature hits into the repertoire. Both singing superstars have a treasure trove of hits familiar with the crowd, so lining up the best of their tunes is really quite a challenge.
“Iconic” had two musical directors -– Louie Ocampo and Raul Mitra, with Paolo Valenciano as concert director.
Some of the songs were already part of their first “Iconic” repertoire and it was probably easy to rehash their lineup. However, Cuneta noted that she had not taken the microphone for “two years and eight months” since their last concert together.
High notes were understandably assigned to Velasquez. She has “ASAP” every Sunday, an apologetic Cuneta pointed out.
“You don’t need to apologize,” Velasquez told the Megastar. “You’re Sharon Cuneta.”
“Kinakabahan tayo. Hindi lumalabas ang boses namin, kaya kayo na lang ang mag-adjust sa amin,” Velasquez said in jest that sent the audience laughing.
Their “twinning” black gowns were resplendent, studded with dazzling stones, as well as their cropped mane. Designers who provided the artists’ stunning gowns for the night were Chito Rivera, Cocoy Lizaso, Manilag and Jot Losa.
“Pahinga muna si Aurora ngayon,” Cuneta said, referring to her character in the widely followed and consistently top-rating primetime series, “Ang Probinsyano.”
“Top-rating pa rin kahit wala kaming prangkisa,” the Megastar added.
Towards the latter part of the concert, Cuneta and Velasquez rendered “Di Ka Nag-iisa,” the latest theme of “Ang Probinsyano” on its sixth year, penned by rapper Bassilyo Ignacio, himself also in the cast of the series.
Other performances were Velasquez’s solo of “Dadalhin,” while Cuneta sang her version of Velasquez’s “Sana Maulit Muli.”
“Kung gusto niyong mag-CR, ngayon na po,” Cuneta told the crowd following her first outfit change. “Hiningi ko ‘tong song na ‘to kay Regine.”
This first night of the “Iconic” repeat went with understandable minor hitches. The artists missed their respective musical cues, but they went on with singing and the crowd didn’t mind.
They rehashed their lilting Ryan Cayabyab medley – “Araw Gabi” and “Tuwing Umuulan at Kapiling Ka.”
“The first time kinanta ko ‘to sa Araneta, natisod ako,” Cuneta recalled how she tripped onstage, before starting “Araw Gabi,” after which she acknowledged Velasquez vocal brilliance.
“She says I’m her idol, with ‘Mr. DJ’ as the first song she memorized,” Cuneta said. “But I’m singing with the best singer in the Philippines.”
More of Cuneta’s well-loved movie theme hits with her memorable leading men made it to their song line-up – “Sana’y Maghintay ang Walang Hanggan” with Christopher de Leon, “Maging Sino Ka Man” opposite Robin Padilla and “Pangako sa ‘Yo” with Bong Revilla, Jr.
She got her surprise of the night when Padilla – “the number one senator” – showed up in the audience, with lawyer Salvador Panelo.
Cuneta acknowledged Panelo and even joked, “We should do this together,” before she rendered “Sana’y Wala ng Wakas,” that segued to “Bituing Walang Ningning,” two of her biggest hits
Last election season, it will be remembered that Cuneta called the attention of Panelo on social media when he sang her song, “Sana’y Wala ng Wakas,” while campaigning. But she readily removed her post and apparently, all’s well that ends well for both of them.
Singing their first non-hit, Cuneta and Velasquez included Kamikaze’s popular “Narda” a song tribute to fictional Filipino superhero, Darna. They reminded the audience that in separate occasions, they played Darna on the big screen.
Cuneta donned her sexy outfit in Leroy Salvador’s “Captain Barbell” (1986), with Edu Manzano in the title role and Herbert Bautista playing the lead.
“Para ako maging Darna, nilagay ako sa Lazy Susan ni Direk Leroy at ini-ikot para mag-iba ako,” Cuneta recalled. “Then pinabilis na lang ng special effects ang pag-ikot ko. At that time, hindi pa ganu’n ka-advance to be Darna. I was only 20 years old then.”
Meanwhile, Velasquez slipped into her famous red ensemble as a Darna costume, albeit briefly in a dream sequence where she played a cameo in “Captain Barbell” (2003), with Bong Revilla, Jr. and Ogie Alcasid.
Velasquez is also best remembered for voicing Narda’s signature yell to change into Darna in Locsin first TV series, followed by Marian Rivera. It was Velasquez’s high-pitched vocal timbre used for “Darna.”
New star Jane de Leon is training for her much-awaited “Darna” portrayal on TV sometime this year. She clinched the part after Liza Soberano backed out from playing the superhero, following Angel Locsin’s quitting due to a spinal injury.
The only guest of “Iconic” that night was Asia’s Queen of Songs, Pilita Corrales and both artists were pleased the 84-year-old entertainer gave her nod to grace their concert.
They carried out “Sa Ugoy ng Duyan” with her and subsequently, Corrales went solo onstage with her signature “A Million Thanks To You.”
They also paid tribute to Moira de la Torre by singing three of the latter hits – “Malaya,” “Tagpuan” and “Paubaya.” Last 2019, they also did De la Torre’s “Kung Di Rin Lang Ikaw” for “Iconic.”
Cuneta rendered Ben & Ben’s poignant “Leaves,” arranged by Raul Mitra, one of the musical directors of “Iconic.”
Meanwhile, Velasquez carried out The Juans’ “Istorya,” of which she also recorded her version, as well as another signature hit, “Narito Ako.”
One song that both of Cuneta and Velasquez officially recorded was “Ikaw,” the theme of the romantic film where Cuneta was paired with Ariel Rivera, “yung ex mo,” she told Asia’s Songbird.
To cap the night, Cuneta and Velasquez sent the audience standing up, waving their mobile phones and singing to the medley of the popular hits of The Eraserheads – “Ang Huling El Bimbo,” “Magasin,” Overdrive” and “Pare Ko.”
The songs were new on the artists’ repertoire, as they rarely performed The E-heads’ hits onstage, but the medley was undoubtedly a hit with the crowd and an apt closing for the two-hour concert.