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Concert Reviews: Time as a test of talent

/ 08:11 PM October 21, 2012

THE ZOMBIES rock the Philippine International Convention Center’s Plenary Hall. RICHARD REYES

Four recent concerts by foreign artists demonstrated that it takes a lot of discipline to nurture and sustain talent.

Real talent, for that matter, won’t wither with age, but may even shine more dazzlingly.

THE ZOMBIES

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Oct. 19, PICC

For this latest visit, legendary British band The Zombies whipped up a play list that was “exclusively for the Philippines.” This meant more overtly romantic numbers that showcased charismatic vocalist Colin Blunstone’s singing, descriptions of which have gone beyond superlatives and right to the realm of “ethereal” and “otherworldly.”

It worked. For a little under two hours, original Zombies Blunstone and keyboardist Rod Argent—working with guitarist Tom Tooney, bassist Jim Rodford and his son Steve on drums—kept enthralled a mostly (way) past-middle age crowd at the PICC. (The band is celebrating its 50th anniversary.)

It was clear from the get-go that the audience had a soft spot for this group.

Argent never let up as the mad genius at the keyboards—right up front where he could eyeball fans in the first few rows, sharply contrasting with the quietly smiling Blunstone.

Sentimental favorites like “The Way I Feel Inside,” “Miles Away” and “Remember when I Loved Her” each cast a silencing spell that was invariably broken by wild cheering in the end.

When he launched into “You Really Got a Hold on Me,” Blunstone flashed a sheepish smile that made him look half of half his age. And that was how he made the audience feel as well.

Expectedly, his top turns with that venerated voice were “Goin’ Out of My Head,” “Time of the Season” and “Old and Wise.” He took no short cuts, either, tackling every exquisite note as it was recorded.

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Rodford brought to the stage a knowing solid vibe, doubtless acquired through years of playing in some of the most meticulous configurations of music craftsmen, among them The Kinks and The Animals and, yes, The Zombies. And number after steamy number, Tooney and the younger

Rodford bounced rhythmic energies off Argent. Not that he needed it, but the exercise happily resulted in fireworks. Intermittently, frenzied keyboard solos melted into frenzied guitar breaks; it was pure sorcery.

By the time “Hold Your Head Up” started thumping in, the PICC was totally rockin’. For a while we thought we were witnessing a bunch of twentysomethings on its first huge gig.

“She’s Not There” was saved for last and unapologetic shrieks drowned out the intro, plus Blunstone was starting to falter in the challenging chorus. But he sang with such joy, undiminished from the first number, that he could have just stood there and smiled from that point on and still have gotten a standing ovation.

Speaking of which, they got three of those, and the virtual Smiley in the hall lingered till the last of two encores, “How We Were Before.” Is the party over for Filipinos after this third stop?—Emmie G. Velarde

 

JAMES Morrison ED CLINTON GO

JAMES MORRISON

Oct. 9, Smart Araneta Coliseum

The 28-year-old British singer-songwriter had an irresistibly engaging raspy voice that sounded like Bruce Springsteen’s, but whose high, soulful edge could pass for Stevie Wonder’s.

Morrison’s music thrives on a ’70s folk-R&B-soul hybrid, but what made it stand out that night was the palpable vulnerability throbbing through his lyrics. “We were born with tears in our eyes,” he sang in “A Beautiful Life”—his sentiments about dealing with fear and pain more pronounced as his body moved with a sense of anxiety.

His sad songs, such as “Say Something Now” and “Broken Strings,” were balanced by the positive vibe of “I Won’t Let You Go” and “Up.”

One of the show’s highlights was a cover of Chicago’s “I’m A Man,” in which Morrison and his band engaged in a rousing call-and-response gospel groove.—Pocholo Concepcion

WILSON PHILLIPS

Oct. 12, Mall of Asia Arena

It was disorienting to watch a group composed of daughters of legendary pop icons Brian Wilson (Beach Boys) and John Phillips (Mamas & the Papas) in a concert that seemed like a videoke jam—replete with corny jokes and drunken antics.

Wilson Phillips—Wendy and Carnie Wilson, and Chynna Phillips—became famous in the 1990s mainly through its three-part harmony vocals. Friday last week, much of the group’s effort to recapture its appeal ended up with mixed results.

Chynna’s voice cracked on a cover of her dad’s immortal paean to sunny West Coast weather, “California Dreamin’,” which went through a bizarre twist when she danced like a stripteaser.

The group’s vocal blending on the Beach Boys classic, “Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” fell short of expectations.

The saving grace came toward the show’s end—the group sounding like it finally recovered its bearings on two more Beach Boys covers, “God Only Knows” and “Kokomo,” and a Wilson Phillips original, “Release Me.”—Pocholo Concepcion

JONAS Brothers MARK TERENCE SY

JONAS BROTHERS

Oct. 19, Mall of Asia Arena

Anna Maria Perez de Tagle was quite a revelation as the second front act after Paraluman. Although born in the USA, the granddaughter of Sylvia La Torre seemed to have imbibed her lola’s facility with the Filipino language, and knack for singing.

ANNA Maria Perez de Tagle MARK TERENCE SY

It was not so much her ability to cover Rihanna (“Only Girl”) and Katy Perry (“The One that Got Away”) or dance like Madonna that impressed us. Rather, it was her surprising OPM medley (“Please Be Careful with My Heart,” “Torete,” “Hinahanap-hanap Kita”) that endeared her to the crowd.

As for the main act, it was the youngest Jonas, Nick, who carried the torch for the brothers’ quest to regain past glories by multitasking on guitar, keyboards and percussion while doing lead vocals.

Joe’s turn at the mic was lackluster, although Kevin played some good licks on the guitar.—Pocholo Concepcion

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