The Fray melts Filipino fans’ heartsBy Fat Reyes
MANILA, Philippines –They have found us.
Performing for the first time in Manila Saturday night, The Fray showed their loyal Filipino fans how great piano rock music is done with much heart, passion and soul. And that even for just one night, magic could happen when you find a deep connection with your audience.
They opened the night with the song “All at Once” from their debut album, but it was their hit song “You Found Me” from their self-titled album that blew the audience away and kept them from their Smart-Araneta coliseum seats. The Colorado-based quartet was in town to promote their third and latest album “Scars and Stories.”
Pianist and lead vocalist Isaac Slade repeatedly engaged the crowd to sing and move to their next songs, a mix of 15 tracks from their three albums. His distinct soulful, gritty voice, coupled with the band’s newfound confidence and clarity, did not fail to mesmerize the crowd.
Slade had a hilarious moment with the crowd, when he wanted the fans to cheer the Philippines’ own “Moonstar 88″ for performing as front act, but he couldn’t get the band’s name right.
“Give it up for the opening band, Moonrock 88….Moonstar… Moon something,” he said and shared a hearty laugh with the fans.
Joe King, Slade empathize with crowd
Best known for their brand of bittersweet and melancholic music and ballads, the band took their fans to a deep, emotional ride as they related their songs to the experiences of their Filipino friends. Filipinos passionately sang the words “Don’t Let Me Go” as Slade belted out their hit “Never Say Never,” which was featured in the movie Transformers
Guitarist and vocalist Joe King shared a tender moment with the crowd through the song “Ungodly Hour,” as he thanked the Filipino fans for making them feel like family.
“I met a (Filipino) family last night for the first time, and they took me to the beach today, and it was like I was family already. You guys are so accepting. I love it. So beautiful,” King said before introducing the song. The song, which lasted for eight minutes, showcased the band’s musicality and penchant for sad, piercing lyrics.
Slade, for his part, shared his sympathies to the Filipinos who had a “rough time” by offering their next song to them.
“You had a rough summer, we heard about the floods and we’re so sorry,” he said, referring to the torrential rains that affected more than two million Filipinos early in the year.
“This next song is called Happiness and it’s about being sad, and being lonely, and lost, and still smiling, not in a false way but in a very, very deep way, this is Happiness,” Slade said. The sentimental song melted the fans’ hearts, so much more when Slade went down the right side of the stage and got closer with the crowd.
Of great covers and heart-pounding hits
The band gave the crowd new treats, as they offered their own renditions of Motown band The Temptations’ “Ain’t too Proud to Beg” and American rock band Cheap Trick’s “Surrender.”
Fans went wild when they heard Slade play the first piano notes of the song “How to Save a Life.” After singing the song and with a beer in his hand, he said “Manila, I promise you, we will make another record and we will come back,” and the fans cheered in delight.
The screaming did not stop one bit as the band played “Over My Head,” their first single off their debut album.
The four-man team matched the crowd’s energy as midway to the end of the song, they invited the crowd to clap their hands hard to the heart-pounding beat of the drums. As the clapping and singing continued, an ecstatic Slade surprised the crowd as he again dashed down the stage, this time running down the center aisle and climbing up to the patron, and upper seats, sincerely making everyone in the house feel appreciated and loved.
Capping off a memorable rock concert, the band sang “Heartbeat” and “Be Still” as they hesitantly bade “paalam” to their fans.
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