The afternoon started with four hours of traffic heading northward due to the usual Friday “carmageddon” that we all seem to have grown accustomed to. Thank goodness my carpool companions and I had the good sense to leave the south early.
Our reason for venturing into the unkind and unpredictable Edsa was a good one: our dear friend Jed Madela was going to have his 15th anniversary concert, titled “Higher Than High,” at Araneta Coliseum. It was around 7:30 p.m. when we got to the Big Dome, which gave us more than enough time for dinner, a bathroom break and settling down in our seats.
Supporting Jed were special guests, Jona, BoybandPH, TNT Boys, Vice Ganda, Carla Guevara-Laforteza, Kakai Bautista, Robert Seña, Nyoy Volante, Timmy Pavino, Isay Alvarez and Asia’s Songbird Regine Velasquez, along with the ABS-CBN Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Gerard Salonga, the Philippine Madrigal Singers and D’Grind Dancers. Direction was by Marvin Caldito, and music direction by Marvin Querido.
When a concert begins with a powerful rendition of Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana” serving as the show’s overture, that should serve as warning enough to fasten your seatbelts. And once Jed made his appearance upstage dressed in a black and red-tasseled hooded cape to sing his first song, Evanescence’s “Bring Me to Life,” we were thankful we were warned in advance.
He gave us one collaboration with BoybandPH from his latest album “Superhero,” performed a gorgeous rendition of “Over the Rainbow” with Regine, channeled famous divas with the TNT Boys, paid tribute to Adele with Jona, delivered authentic spoken comedy coupled with well-sung tragedy with Vice, and finally smacked us with crazy musical-theater realness with Carla, Robert, Kakai, Nyoy, Timmy and Isay.
Of course, the production numbers were truly entertaining, if the generous clapping, screaming and gasps of disbelief following each one were any indication.
However, it was when Jed was alone onstage that the concert truly took flight, whether singing the theme songs he’s recorded for various teleseryes or impersonating different singers a cappella (yup, yours truly included).
He impressed us all with his ridiculous vocal range, technical proficiency and spot-on intonation (who needs pitch correction software when you’re just that talented?). My friends and I kept turning to each other asking over and over again, “How the heck is he doing this?”
All that said, he seemed the most comfortable when he’s able to inhabit a different persona, as displayed by his performances of “Gethsemane” from “Jesus Christ Superstar,” and Queen’s hit song, “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
It was in those songs and others like them that Jed appeared the most liberated and free, performing as if there was no one else on that stage. It was then that I enjoyed the concert the most. (A round of applause must also be given to the orchestra’s rendition of Queen’s “Love of My Life,” orchestrated by JD Villanueva.)
All in all, this was not just a concert, but also a celebration of the career of a man who has spent the last 15 years competing in international competitions, performing on stages the world over, and mentoring young artists on their own journeys in this industry. Perhaps that will be his most significant contribution: sharing all that he knows and all that he’s learned.
Jed is a singer who hasn’t enjoyed the kind of career that blasted off bright and fast, but rather (as Vice pointed out onstage) as something different. His rise is a slower one without the white-hot burn, but rather the soft, steady glow of embers.
Maybe this is how Jed wants it. Maybe this is what the fates have written. Maybe this is the dictate of the marketplace, which can be a fickle and interesting thing.
All that said, Jed has amassed himself a loyal fan base, and many of them trooped to the Big Dome to show their love, admiration and respect. As proof, the young talents who have joined WCOPA over the years all showed up with heads held high in gratitude, surprising him by marching into the house and singing along with him. This gesture brought Jed to weep, momentarily stopping him from singing.
Following the show’s finale, he was back in his dressing room, still in tears, hunched over exhausted from giving that Big Dome crowd everything he had in the tank.
We all got our money’s worth, that’s for sure. Three hours’ worth of music, stories and that otherworldly, one of a kind voice. I’m sure we haven’t heard the last of Jed Madela, and I’d like to think he’s only just getting started, because he truly, unquestionably deserves so much more.
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