There have been a few rock bands that have celebrated legendary longevity. The members of U2, for example, have been together since 1978, with no change in their lineup. The same goes for Aerosmith, which got its start in 1970, and ZZ Top in 1971. Over here, one band that has withstood the test of time just celebrated its 30th anniversary: The Dawn.
Named by the band’s cocreator, the late Teddy Diaz, The Dawn has been rocking fans since 1986. The guys’ first single, “Enveloped Ideas,” was a major hit, and is still in the minds of their fans (yours truly included). The first time I ever saw them perform was when they were the guests on “Sunday Special Iba Ito,” a TV show I cohosted with Teddy’s brother, Loren.
Then, in 1988, everything changed. Teddy was violently killed. Stabbed to death a stone’s throw away from his girlfriend’s home.
But the music—and the band—did not die.
The Dawn has had quite a few personnel changes through the years, but the two constants have been lead singer Jett Pangan and drummer extraordinaire Junboy Leonor. Guitarists have included Noel Mendez (at the time masked and mysterious), Atsushi Matsuura, Kenneth Ilagan and current guitarists Francis Reyes and Sancho Sanchez (who’s having a sweet bromance with my husband Rob, both of them having worked in the same office not that many years ago).
Basses have traded hands between Carlos Balcells, Mon Legaspi and Buddy Zabala, but today Carlos and Mon share bassist duties. Leni Llapitan plays keyboards, the only rose among the thorns.
On Sept. 17, The Dawn held a capsule concert at Craft, located at The Fort Strip. Many friends, family and fans packed the house.
The last Dawn gig we had seen was a full year earlier at Sancho’s baptism of fire at the Music Museum. He said he was nervous, as he had to cram a generation’s worth of material in the span of a few days. However, now with a lot of road time behind him, he looked relaxed and in his element. From our spot in the crowd, we shouted “I love you’s” to him, and he responded in kind.
The ladies were swooning, and rightfully so. He cut a dashingly handsome figure as he wielded his axe. Junboy was under the weather, but his playing never betrayed him, and Francis’ fingers were fast on that fret board.
As for Jett, allow me to say that there is no voice like his right now anywhere in our local music scene. He’s technically a baritone with a rich bottom that’s steady and solid when those low notes are sung, but can actually hit stuff in the tenor range. His voice never gets tinny, maintaining a masculine richness. His voice is present, cannot be ignored, and has only grown and matured with time.
Perhaps his musical theater experience has improved his technique and emotional depth. Or maybe it was just life that enriched his vocals. Whatever it is, all of us in that room were blessed with the performance he gave that night: powerful, note-perfect, passionate—and we couldn’t get enough!
The guys played originals from their various albums, as well as covers from bands they enjoy. The crowd’s noise was at its peak when “Enveloped Ideas,” “Iisang Bangka” and “Salamat” played, these three songs arguably the band’s biggest hits. When you have a room full of sweaty, intoxicated, happy people singing along, you know you had a great night.
To Jett, Junboy, Francis, Carlos, Mon and Sancho, congratulations on a job well done, and on a career well performed. May there be more music to be made!
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