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Magic casts reggae spell on devoted Manila fans

MAGIC in Manila: A slick, laid-back mix of jaunty pop hooks and breezy beats Sherwin Guzman/ Wilbros Live

It’s quite impressive how the Canadian pop band Magic!—barely two years in the scene—has established a solid, dedicated fan base here in the Philippines, on the strength of its hit song, “Rude,” alone.

The Newport Performing Arts Theater housed in Resorts World Manila in Pasay City wasn’t exactly bursting at the seams, but there sure were a lot of thrilled fans—most of them female, in their teens and early 20’s—in the reggae fusion band’s first Manila concert.

The group—Nasri Atweh (vocals), Mark Pellizzer (guitar), Ben Spivak (bass) and Alex Tanas (drums)—opened the show with the danceable “Stupid Me,” which had a big chunk of the crowd rushing toward the stage, the better to groove to the song.

Magic! has so far released just one album, “Don’t Kill the Magic.” Thus, the set list was thin, with only 10 songs. The music, for the most part, was a slick and laid-back combination of jaunty pop hooks and breezy reggae beats.

Among the songs the band performed were “Mama Didn’t Raise No Fool,” “No Evil,” “Paradise” and the fairly straightforward, pop-rock offering “Don’t Kill the Magic!” The boys likewise dished out decent covers of “Master Blaster (Jammin’)” by Stevie Wonder, which was preceded by a solo from Tanas, as well as “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” by Cyndi Lauper.

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The strongest of the bunch, however, were the smooth and funky “No Way No” and the sensual “Let Your Hair Down.” Atweh, who seemed content coasting on his gruff voice’s midrange, delivered his most forceful vocal performance via these same songs, too.

Atweh, who thrived behind the scenes as part of the songwriting team The Messengers, with fellow Canadian musician Adam Messenger, isn’t the most stirring of showmen, but he thrusted his hips every so often, much to the delight of the girls nearest the stage.

To wrap up what had been a short, blithe concert (mounted by Wilbros Live), Magic! cast its spell over the audience with “Rude.”

The Billboard Hot 100 chart-topper, about a man vowing to marry his girl despite her father’s disapproval, is easily the band’s best song. It was evident in the way the crowd ardently sang along from the first line to the last.

(E-mail apolicarpio@inquirer.com.ph.)

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