MANILA -- They both play admirable acoustics in their concerts and even in their records. Hence it was not a tall order to make them headline a show together, armed only with their guitars. The last time, however, they performed together was in “Tambayan Hits,” at Onstage in Greenbelt, Makati, back in 2013.
It took quite a long while – six years – to see Ice Seguerra and Noel Cabangon team up onstage anew to bring “Kwerdas” to a larger audience at The Tent at Solaire.
The hotel’s entertainment director, Audie Gemora, proudly introduced the two artists to headline The Tent’s second offering, following the successful team up of Kuh Ledesma and Christian Bautista in October last year. “This is the venue to reach out to those who want to watch a concert here at Solaire,” Gemora said.
Clearly, not everybody can apparently afford the price of tickets at The Theater at Solaire, where Broadway plays are often staged. The Tent can pack a bigger audience, thereby making tickets more afforable.
The venue’s non-theater-style set-up allows the audience to order drinks and food served on their tables, that’s why they can enjoy the show while munching on their pica-pica.
In “Kwerdas,” Seguerra and Cabangon proved that their music and artistry transcend their political affiliations. Apparently, their respect for each other as singers and composers was important, more than anything else.
Seguerra and Cabangon’s opening salvo for “Kwerdas” was a medley of covers by artists from the '60s to the '90s – The Rolling Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” The Knack’s “My Sharona,” Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean,” Bryan Adams’ “Heaven,” Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida” – and as soon as they heard those familiar tunes, the audience was already singing with them.
Throughout the night, both Seguerra and Cabangon were comfortably seated with their guitars, backed up by a six-piece band, with Ivan Espinosa as musical director.
This was a brilliant set-up as even when they are not singing together, one can immediately chime in when the other artist forgets the lyrics of his piece.
Respectively, Seguerra and Cabangon churned out covers of hit songs by different OPM artists. Cabangon interpreted JK Labajo’s “Buwan” and Juan de la Cruz band’s signature anthem, “Ang Himig Natin.” “Nagpaalam ako sa kanya to sing this,” Cabangon said of the hit of the late rock icon Joey "Pepe" Smith.
Meanwhile, Seguerra crooned Ryan Cayabyab’s hauntingly sentimental piece, “Araw Gabi,” which he earlier also recorded.
Together, they paid tribute to OPM legends as they rendered Joey Ayala’s searing ballad, “Walang Hanggang Paalam,” as well as Sampaguita’s “Nosi Ba Lasi?,” Juan de la Cruz band’s “Beep Beep,” Bamboo’s “Pinoy Ako” and The Eraserheads’ “Tindahan ni Aling Nena.”
“Ang talento, walang pinipiling edad ‘yan,” Seguerra maintained. “Ang daming bagong kanta. Ang babata ng sumulat. Ang gagaling.” Then, they rendered Ben&Ben’s “Kathang Isip.”
Expectedly, the duo paid tribute to foreign rock stars, too. Seguerra sang Freddie Mercury’s beautiful ballad, “Love of My Life,” and REO Speedwagon’s “In My Dreams.” Admittedly, his formative years in singing and performing started the mid-'90s, when he learned to play the guitar. From this era, he did Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”
Cabangon, meanwhile, paid homage to John Lennon with “Imagine,” as well as “Cool Change” by the Little River Band. Both did a duet of “More Than Words.”
One of the new ditties heard by the audience was Cabangon’s “Pipiliin Pang Maghintay,” while Seguerra gave the crowd her old hit, “Ano’ng Nangyari sa Ating Dalawa.”
A beautiful part was when the two singers rendered their signature hits – Seguerra sang Cabangon’s “Kanlungan,” while the latter sang in counterpoint Seguerra’s “Pagdating ng Panahon.” One rarely hears this kind of take in their respective hits, that’s why this was really well applauded.
Seguerra dished out Bon Jovi’s “You Give Love A Bad Name,” while Cabangon gave the audience “I Wanna Know What Love Is,” followed by their duet of “Love Is the Answer.”
They also performed The Beatles' “Come Together” and “I Saw Her Standing There.”
The duo could have closed the three-hour concert at that point, but the audience clamored for more. So Seguerra and Cabangon generously obliged with “Ang Huling El Bimbo.” At that point, the crowd who certainly knew the hit was up on their feet, singing with the artists and dancing to the well-loved tune of The Eraserheads that was even turned into a musical.
There’s no other way to describe “Kwerdas” than successful and well-received. The audience embraced the music of the artists in a three-hour performance in a cozy and more intimate venue. Do we hear a repeat any time soon?