Friday, July 31, 2009

Guest Concert Review: Boyz II Men (Live in Manila)

Dear readers, I have the honor of giving anothe guest blog. Again, delivered by... (as was his original introduction) ...a first rate music lover, a vocalist par excellence, a one-time showband frontman, a Kundirana veteran, and a member of an almost-was boyband called Soul Purpose back in... dammit, i forgot when... and even he has chosen to forget that episode in his life...Should have been the linchpin of what became Jeremiah (THAT boyband...)... the man, the voice, and the frequent visitor to the blog called "Ang Tunay na Lalaki"... Mr. Carlo Emmanuel Rodriguez Balingit!!!


by Carlo E.R. Balingit

July 21, Tuesday, Another typical workday for me, running here, running there –typical. It was at about 11am when my attention was called to recieve a couple of Boyz2Men tickets, HA! To be honest, I was really hoping but not in any way expecting to get my hands on these. Initially, when I found out that the Boyz were flying in to perform in Manila, my brain was brewing some kind of I don’t know if you can call it scheme to... oh, blah-blah-blah. Don’t want this thing to run a page and a half long so I’ll cut the concert pre-cursor “short”.

“...dateless; ergo my ‘I’ll Make Love to You’ plan has come to the ‘End of the Road’...”

Boyz2Men”, dateless, plans didn’t really work out as “planned” ”, dateless, my son couldn’t watch it with me”, dateless, dragged 2 people in with me as to not waste the seats, dateless, and last before the least – dateless; ergo my “I’ll make love to you” plan has come to the “End of the Road”. Funny, before leaving the office for the Araneta, someone wished me luck and told me “Hope I meet someone I like at the concert”. Sadly, I knew where that particular person was going to be that night and that “that” person wasn’t going to be there at the concert. On to the show – hooray...

Got there a tad late myself since I was still trying to finish up some stuff at work and had a very difficult time finding parking. I hauled my flat ass out of the car and made my way with Kat and Goth ( the seat fillers) to the venue. 9:20pm. Show was suppose to start at 8pm. Of course as everybody knows, 8pm Manila time is about 9-9:30ish in real time. I asked one of the usherettes whether or not the show had started, to which she replied “ No, Sir.” Was I shocked? No. Sometimes you just have to ask yourself why people in Manila, hell, in the Philippines for that matter, even bother to use the concept of time for anything.

Upon entering, I was really amazed (not shocked though) that all the seats were virtually taken. I then ninja walked my way mid-row to where the seats were and snuggly rested my flat ass to where it was suppose to stay for the next few hours. Looking around before lights-off I noticed a few familiar faces in the crowd waiting for the Boyz to do thier thing. Yes, quite a horde of Pinoys were really looking forward to this night, haha.

Looking at my watch and asking myself whether or not this concert was going to start “tonight”, the house lights suddenly dimmed and a video wall started to illuminate the stage, then pop goes the Boyz. Nate, Shawn and Wanye open the evening with Cooley Hi Harmony’s debut single “Boyz2Men”, now I wasn’t really a fan of that single but as a rule opening acts should be energetic. On the up side, the song was turned into a medly of ye ole hip-hop hit and “On bended knee”. Down side was “On bended knee” wasn’t sung in it’s entirety (wtf?!?!). I mean “On Bended Knee!” Now as mentioned, a powerful and energetic opening number cannot be avoided, but why waste one of your biggest hits – disappointment there.

“...where’s the band? ...ooh wait... the band’s burned into the cd minus-one along with the overdubbed vocal harmony...”

So the 1st number was done and delivered and so the standard welcoming spiel was well on it’s way to the wonderful ears of the uber excited audience. I wasn’t really paying that much attention to the whole exchange of dialogue, but was more focused on other things. Things like, where’s the band? OOOh wait, the band’s burned into the cd minus-one along with the overdubbed vocal harmony. Yes, all of the refrain and choral harmonies were overdubbed. No, they didn’t only dub-in the bass, they dubbed all of it “ok”. I was really trying to convince myself that this was a Boyz2Men concert and them doing that would be next to criminal (enter the handcuffs please) sigh.

“...vocal delivery of Nate and of course the godlike Wanye was superb – but I must say that Shawn was sort of losing his touch...”

After the spiel, the Boyz started singing covers from thier Motown album and opened that segment of the act with Mr. Robinson’s “Track of My Tears”. Dancing was so Motown, but visually pleasing to watch, vocal delivery of Nate and of course the godlike Wanye was superb – but I must say that Shawn was sort of losing his touch – haha. Unfortunately, though they covered most of the good songs from that album they failed to perform one remake that was one of my personal favorites “I’ll Miss You”(argh) from their “Throwback” album. Sadly, it was really starting to seems like solo karaoke night for the boyz.

Finishing this entry is taking longer than I thought, it’s been a couple of days since the show, so do please forgive me for leaving some stuff out.

It was mid way through the show that they performed “4 Seasons of Loneliness” and “Water runs Dry”, but what really hit me was a “Doin’ Just Fine” the first cut off “Evolution,” which started out with Nate as solo. Yeah, it really hit me bad – found myself staring blankly into nowhere (bah.).

A common concert gimmick in their concerts was each of the Boyz throwing out roses to the crowd while they sang their biggest hit, “I’ll Make Love to You.”

For the closing number they rendered a song I haven’t heard in a while – “End of the road” (how cliche’). Again Nate and Wanye’s solo parts were great, harmony was canned, and Shawn was really starting to sound like someone kept stepping on his toes all night. Disappointingly they didn’t sing the Brian McKnight-written groove “Fallen” a personal favorite, I know it didn’t top the charts compared to the rest of their hits, but then again, It was the only song in that 2nd Album that projected a musical freshness in my ears.

Upon the inevitable demand for an encore, they worked the crowd for 5mins before Wanye steps out for another spiel thanking everyone for supporting the Boyz for 20 years. He talked about a lot of things, even mentioned that Mike might potentially return to Boyz2Men pretty soon – and they’re hoping that by the next tour three will once again become four (I’m looking forward to that.). Wanye then calls both Nate and Shawn to join him perform “Hard to say goodbye to yesterday”. The very 1st Boyz2Men song I remember hearing. After that number they finally closed the show with a “full” rendition of their fast hip-hop song “Boyz2Men” (wowzer – not.).

“...Boyz2Men will always be Boyz2Men... their music has been and will always be a part of my life...”

Boyz2Men will always be Boyz2Men. Doesn’t matter if there are 3 guys or 4 on stage. Doesn’t matter if the harmony was over-dubbed. Doesn’t matter if a band was non-existent. It’s about how their music has been and will always be a part of my life, a part of everyone’s life. From my teenage years up ‘til now, their music complemented a full spectrum of feelings, and probably even amplified them to some extent. Sadly, the best time to enjoy love music is when you’re “in love” – hence my semi-bland review. Thinking back to Tuesday, as I was seated at Araneta and looking at the sea of people watching the show, everybody was with somebody... somebody to enjoy the moment (sigh). Don’t misunderstand, I can probably get a girl anytime, no problem – Hell, I’m even eyeing somebody I really like at the moment (eyeing being the most accurate description - lmao).... just not sure if I’m ready for it (or vice-versa). Wish I could’ve taken her to the show but I knew I couldn’t (or shouldn’t) and she couldn’t as well.

So here’s hoping that by the time the Boyz do fly back to Manila I get to watch it with someone, just so that I can enjoy what Boyz2Men music is all about – a celebration of something I’ve grown unfamiliar with as of late... a celebration of love.

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