Friday, August 20, 2010

Concert Review: Boyz II Men, Aug.13, 2010 (Nowhere near the End of the Road for these Boyz)

Lower box tickets courtesy of the Manila Bulletin. Sweet...

August 13, 2010, Araneta Coliseum - Passage (the band) was a surprise front act. In that i was surprised they were still around... Honestly not sure how many of those guys were part of the original Passage line-up. But who cared...? They helped kill time, their bass player did a cool rendition of Prince’s (or the Artist Formerly Known as Somebody Else Everytime) version of “Betcha by Golly Wow”, and somehow proved to the waiting Boyz that no one had secret bushels of rotten tomatoes hidden away somewhere.

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So out came Boyz II Men, specifically Nathan Morris, Shawn Stockman, and Wanya Morris. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, no Mike McCary.

They came in, had a brief introduction, and broke straight into “Motownphilly,” arguably their most enduring up-tempo piece to kick off the show. And somewhere through the Boyz’s frantic Motown-style dancing, the veteran concert-goer in me was looking for more than missing bass singer Mike McCary. Mike, who was promised to us from their last concert, apparently was not able to work out a deal with the rest of the Boyz. See here.

so, uh... where's the band...?
So i was looking for a band. You know, the guys behind the Boyz playing guitars, drums, keyboards... instruments, man... never mind that they didn’t have back-up singers. They were Boyz II Men, dammit... any two of these guys put together can beat the sound of a 20-head choir. But it was kind of weird, and almost sort of sad to find that the Boyz were singing to pre-recorded backing tracks, complete with harmony overdubs.

But they were still Boyz II Men... and for what it’s worth, i believe Boyz II Men are among the very few musical acts that can pull off something like this in a venue as big as the Araneta.

Set list for the concert was as follows (in order):

• Motownphilly
• On Bended Knee
• Please Don’t Go Away (the first track on their eponymous debut album, before they shoehorned Babyface’s “End of the Road” that sent the record skyrocketing through the charts)
• 4 Seasons of Loneliness (see unprofessionally shot
video using a camera phone below)
if you can't see the video, and really have the time to kill... here's a youtube link

• Amazed (originally by country band Lonestar)
• Open Arms
• Water Runs Dry
• The Colors of Love
• I’ll Make Love to You
• Song for Mama
• End of the Road
• Iris (yes, THAT Iris... by the Goo Goo Dolls)
• Back for Good (by that OTHER boy band, Take That, now a man band more famous for launching the career and ego of Robbie Williams)
• Motownphilly encore (geez, they could’ve ended the concert with any other song from their extensive catalogue... like maybe “Thank You” from the “II” album, or even the funky “Beautiful Women” from “Evolution.”)

Wanya still lets it rip like no one’s business. Sounds like he has fully healed from the polyps situation a whiles back. Nate croons in that husky baritone better than ever. Shawn... hmm... now here’s something to talk about... Shawn’s personal high point for me was the “Mr. Holland’s Opus” soundtrack single “Visions of a Sunset,” which he wrote and sang. And taking the schmaltzy hallmark lyrics out of the way, “Visions” was a melodic work of art, and Shawn’s vocals were a falsetto masterclass. And while many, many Boyz songs benefitted from Mr. Stockman’s brand of smooth, sometimes his singing lately (both on tonight’s live show, as well as their records) is starting to sound lazy. Almost as though he has become too confident at the ease with which he hits those soaring notes that the only thing missing is a mug of beer and a dare.

Most musical acts have unique twists to their shows that sort of become identified with them (e.g. Jim Chappell invites a member of the audience to clink three notes on his piano, which he will improvise into a song on the spot, Robin Wilson (of the Gin Blossoms) sings into the cellphones of lucky audience members, Kenny G plays through the crowds like a pied piper, and even does an “unplugged” version of a song with purely acoustic instruments, etc.). It would be nice if the Boyz can include at least one purely acapella number in their set list, with or without Mike.

You listening, Boyz? This here is a bona fide fan right here, and this fan wants to hear live acapella... been at your first concert here, gifted my brother with tickets to your second, and caught your last one here. You have my guarantee that the wife and i will be at the next one, and the next one, and the next one.

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After twisting the wifey’s arm to go to these concerts with me, she is forming the wonderful habit of being pleasantly surprised at who sang what, and seems to have reduced the frequency of frowning whenever i tell i’m dragging her lovely ass into another concert.

One thing though, she did comment that the concert somehow felt like a big karaoke session with Boyz II Men, but then simply added that the Boyz were really, really good... “especially the short and fat guy...” and oddly enough, she liked them better now than when we first saw them many years ago in the open field concert held at the Fort, which was a terribly, terribly managed event.

Got me the latest serving of remakes by the Boyz, the “Love” album, at the coliseum lobby. CD review coming soon.

‘catch you later.


Anonymous said...

Sorry fan, but ummm I've been a huge fan since 1991 (20yrs). And let me tell you... They are awesome " A LEGEND" from cooleyhighharmony to love. I dont know if there was something wrong with your ears at that concert you went to but the ones I have gone to , let me tell you that there is no kareoke.. and they always sing acapella.. I think they sound even more amazing LIVE! i know their songs word for word.. and note by note.. and hunny its real.

Jasper Greek Lao Golangco said...

Greetings, Carmen!
Thanks for dropping in. What i meant by saying "karaoke" was the concept of the Boyz singing against pre-recorded backing tracks. Their singing is NOT karaoke at all. And yes, they are REAL.
And like you yourself, i have been a devout fan since 1991, and have every one of their albums, as well as a few singles.
Nice to run into a fellow fan!