MANILA, Philippines—Stepping back up on stage after last year’s breakup with the members of a group revered by many as a “superband”, Franco Reyes is back with a new album and a whole lot of gratitude for his loyal fans.
“I can’t thank you enough. My friends, we are one again tonight,” the songwriter-musician called out to the packed Music Museum on Saturday night.
The phrase “we are one again tonight” elicited murmurs of agreement in the audience who recognized the line from the lyrics of the hit “The Gathering” from the first album.
The group, when it blew Metro Manila away with its 11-track album back in 2010, gained quite a following, having an all-star line-up consisting of Reyes, Urbandub’s Gabby Alipe and Janjan Mendoza, Queso’s Ocho Toleran, and Parokya ni Edgar’s Buwi Meneses.
The sudden news of Franco’s members going their separate ways in 2012 no doubt broke a lot of hearts but Reyes has taken on much of the work on what was then a much-awaited 17-track follow-up to the self-titled debut.
The new album, “Soul Adventurer,” was released in February and what better way to promote Reyes’ comeback as a solo artist than with a concert and the launch of his newest music video.
Facing the concert crowd, Reyes opened his solo concert with the energetic “Moonset”, a track from “Soul Adventurer,” with a new lineup in the band: Paul Cañada on guitars, Dave Delfin on bass and Victor Guison on drums.
The audience was enthusiastic throughout the concert, despite the new faces on stage with Reyes, some even professed love for the t-shirt and jeans-clad frontman during breaks between songs.
The crowd welcomed the new lineup, cheering as Reyes introduced Cañada, Delfin and Guison, whom he picked out to play his music much of which is rock with some infused with reggae and even—electronica for “Lover’s Fire.”
The setlist for the concert was a mix of old and new songs, such was the case when the band struck up “Seasons,” a track from the self-titled album which came out three years ago, and followed it up with the edgy “To Survive,” off the second album.
Music Museum is a theater that does not allow space for a mosh pit in front of the stage, but Reyes’ fans did their best, standing and coming closer to the stage—a scene typical of a small gig in a bar on a weekend night.
When “To Survive” came, Reyes urged his audience to move closer to feel the heavy beats pounding off the stage. “Come and stand up, this is a rock concert, you can all sit after it’s done.”
Two more tracks from the second album came next, the crowd moving to the rhythms of “Beautiful Diversion” and “Muse.”
“Muse” was “dedicated to all the lovely women out there,” said Reyes, the stage lights shifting from the usual green to a gleaming combination of red and purple.
Reyes’ voice broke when he got to the line “don’t say goodbye” in the song “Last Waltz,” something which would recur when he replaces his electric guitar with an acoustic one to play “For My Dearly Departed.”
“My Dearly Departed” was for his late father, he told the audience. “I wrote this for my dad. I was lucky enough to have him listen to it on his death bed.”
The audience went quiet and sat down when he sang the melancholy song about the passing of a loved one, left alone on stage with his acoustic guitar.
“I was really happy he was able to listen to it before he died,” he said.
He added his late father told him it was “a really nice song.”
But while many in the crowd knew and sang to “Renewal,” “A Beautiful Diversion,” “Better Days,” “Across the Milkyway” and “Uprising”—songs from the new album it seemed that the real treat to their senses were the old songs.
They were more than willing to sing along to “Seasons,” the haunting “Last Waltz,” “Dearly Departed,” “A Mass for the End of Time,” and “Memorykill”—specifically the latter’s lyrics “save the earth we call home.”
But they knew the lyrics to songs both old and new, bobbing their heads and stamping their feet to the beat, and for this, they earned Reyes’ approval and smiles that night.
So grateful was Reyes that he thanked his fans almost after every song they played.
“To everybody who’s here, thanks. To those who continue to support OPM, you make us feel blessed,” he said.
“It’s my first time to play here. Thank you for making this night a great one. Wala akong masabi, salamat talaga,” Reyes told the crowd.
A unison of groans filled the theater when he announced that they were reaching the end of the concert when they played “Next Train Out” and “The Gathering”—the latter won Song of the Year back in 2010 in the now defunct rock station NU 107’s Rock Awards.
Told that they would be able to view the music video for “Better Days,” the crowd settled down, gazes fixed at the screen which showed Reyes and the band’s new lineup at the beach, surfing and skateboarding to the reggae-rock track.
Franco resumed the show with the electronica-infused “Lover’s Fire,” a song which tore away from Reyes’ usual genre, and capped off the show with favorites from the old album “Castaway” and “Song for the Suspect.”
The old album was a breakthrough, the new one is hopeful, and it was clear that thankful for his loyal following, Reyes is learning “to survive” and would continue making music, despite the change in band lineup.