Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., outside Smart Araneta Coliseum’s green gate, a television crew sifted through hordes of listless young girls to find someone willing to go on camera and demonstrate her admiration for teen actor Daniel Padilla, who was holding his first major solo concert, “Daniel: Live!”
It didn’t take long for a girl, no older than 15, to step forward. She held a small banner that said, “I love u Daniel!” On the. interviewer’s cue, she hoisted the banner and started stomping her feet and shrieking: “Daniel, mahal na mahal kita! Ang guwapo-guwapo mo talaga (I love you so much! You’re really so handsome)!”
All the while, other girls gathered behind the TV crew giggling and itching to speak as well. Adult passersby looked on amused, bemused.
As we entered the venue, we saw more girls similarly wired. Thousands more, to be exact. The sight could make anyone run out of synonyms for “zealous” and “wild.” No wonder they were chaperoned by their mothers (who seemed just as dumbstruck).
Grouped according to club affiliation, the fans filled the Big Dome to the rafters. They had mounted banners on the railings: “Daniel Rocks,” “Daniel Berks” and “KathNiel Dreamers”… We were seated in a section occupied by the “KathNiel Spikers,” an energetic bunch who jumped off their seats at every mention of Daniel’s name and every celebrity sighting.
While waiting for the concert to start, backstage footage of the special guests was shown on jumbo screens. When the cameras caught Daniel’s onscreen partner Kathryn Bernardo being made up and with rollers in her hair, the fans erupted in shrieks so deafening, we dreaded how much louder they would get once Daniel appeared onstage.
A little later, we learned that, indeed, the crowd could crank up the decibels much higher. The stage, fashioned after an old automobile junkyard, was set ablaze with fireworks that signaled the entrance of the 18-year-old heartthrob.
It goes without saying that the girl-heavy crowd teetered on the edge of delirium as their crush or, in the words of my seatmate “asawa ko” hopped onto one of the makeshift cars, and opened with Queen’s “We Will Rock You.” He marched on with “Ligaya,” “Ang Huling El Bimbo” and “Kumusta Ka.”
After the first set, Daniel introduced one of his guests, Journey’s Arnel Pineda, who belted out “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing.” Huge chunks of the crowd sang along; it was a cue for the girls to regroup and regain their bearings for succeeding numbers.
Also on Daniel’s set list were “Binibini,” “Sisikat Din Ako,” “Yugyugan Na,” “With or Without You,” and “Mr. Suave,” which he performed with brothers Matt, RJ and JC. He jammed with Yeng Constantino in “Awit ng Kabataan,” and joined the boys and girls of Star Magic 2013 in a medley of hits from The Beatles, like “Come Together,” “She Loves You,” “Ticket to Ride” and “Drive My Car.” He played bass for his band Parking 5, who thrilled the crowd with The Killer’s “Mr. Brightside” and other familiar hits.
While critics, doubtless, balk at Daniel’s attempt to sing such pop classics, he deserves a thumbs-up for releasing albums that feature old OPM (Original Pilipino Music) favorites and helping introduce the younger generation to songs that, otherwise, they would have entirely missed. Being surrounded by kids mouthing every word to Rivermaya’s “Hinahanap-hanap Kita” or Teeth’s “Prinsesa” was quite a sight.
For a self-confessed “occasional singer,” Daniel did a serviceable job performing live, although none of the songs really took off because of his limited vocal range. That, and the fact that he could hardly be heard in the bedlam.
Perhaps it doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things—certainly not for Daniel’s legion of die-hard supporters who made the show possible, and helped notch album sales figures that most professional singers can only dream of.
We’re not exactly going out on a limb by saying that none of the crazed fans that night at Smart Araneta Coliseum bought tickets to t
he show expecting Daniel to knock their socks off with topnotch vocals. Ultimately, it was not so much about hearing Daniel sing as seeing him sing. He could just stand in the middle of any stage and his fans would still find reason to lose it.
Another ear-piercing round of shrieks shook the venue when Kathryn, pretty in a cream gown, finally emerged, held hands with Daniel, and sang “Ako’y sa ’Yo, Ika’y Akin” and “Nasa Iyo na ang Lahat.” Another special guest, Vice Ganda coaxed the two to do a slow dance. And in what was arguably the definitive kilig moment of the night, Daniel, looking straight into Kathryn’s eyes, slowly dipped his partner. All hell broke loose.
Prior to the concert, Daniel vowed never to sing or dance like Justin Bieber. Well, he did something better—at least for his fans. He launched into the Dougie, Harlem Shake, and danced to Psy’s “Gentleman.”
With a burst of fireworks and confetti, Daniel capped the show with “Hinahanap-hanap Kita.” Thus the event ended for Daniel, but not for his fans. Outside, they rushed to purchase Daniel merchandise: CDs, shirts, magazines. A group of delirious young ladies screamed in front of a camera: “I love you Daniel! Sana may repeat!”