Monday, November 22, 2010

Concert Review: The Gin Blossoms in Manila (My "Real" Review... Pieces of that Night)


Okay, so it wasn’t “yes.” It was more like “YES!!!!!”

The Gin Blossoms were going to make like Santa Claus and coming to town. This town. Manila. And where a fire made me miss the TOTO concert back in 2007 and changed the course of my life entirely, and scheduling conflicts made me miss Chicago and Tears for Fears by making me stuck in another city, this one was NOT getting past me.

To repeat what i told the band during the “Meet & Greet” a couple of days ago at the Robinson’s Galleria: “I’ve been waiting for you guys for seventeen years!” And though it may be arguable that TOTO, Chicago and Tears for Fears have been invading my eardrums for far longer than the Gins, i must state the fact that unlike them, the Gins have never (NEVER) left my regular playlist. MP3 mix cd’s were incomplete without a Gin Blossoms folderful of songs.
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Almost an hour and half’s worth of opening acts in the form of local band 6cycle Mind (with a number featuring Cookie Chua), and Aussie band Fahrenheit43 (who the...?!), and the Gins were in!

So, my voice is fucking hoarse from all the cheering, screaming and singing along, and here’s the setlist (in order) of that night’s show:

“Follow You Down” - I was actually expecting this since it made sense to open the show with this song. It’s a big hit off their successful sophomore album, starts the show loud and proud with a lot of familiarity, while letting them save the “bigger” hits for later in the show.
“Don’t Change for Me” – first song from the new album that they played tonight.
“’Til I Hear It From You,” – a good song, but not among my super favourites. But a very popular one nonetheless.
“Found Out About You” – a personal favourite. Take time out to check out the lyrics to this, and be amazed.
“Miss Disarray” – this song is just okay for me. Wouldn’t have been my personal choice for a kick-off single though.
“As Long As It Matters” – another personal favourite since i sand this a lot along with Vergil dela Cruz and his literal band of brothers.
“Lost Horizons” – a relatively obscure song for mainstreamers, but another trademark Gins pieces for fans like me.
“Long Time Gone” – among what i consider “lesser” tunes off their catalogue. Taken from “Major Lodge Victory.” They should have done “Come On Hard” instead of this one, in my humble opinion.
“Go Crybaby” – from the new album.
“Learning the Hard Way” – the lead track on “Major Lodge Victory.”
“Until I Fall Away” – sadly enough, this melodic, suicidal dirge is a wonderful example of what musical magic Robin (Wilson) and Jesse (Valenzuela) can create together that stands toe to toe with the so-called Hopkins-penned Gins classics.
“Dead or Alive on the 405” – one of the catchier tunes on “No Chocolate Cake”
“Allison Road” – one of Robin’s personal best, i believe.
“I’m Ready” – from the new album.

Yep, Robin was pointing at me in this
shot after i called him out like a
weed-high adolescent groupie.
“Pieces of the Night” – introduced by Robin as a “special Gin Blossoms song,” this is considered by many diehard Gins fans as Doug Hopkins’ Gins opus. For one, it isn’t about a girl like most Gins songs are. It’s about Hopkins’ seeming struggle with the pressures of fame, working with a major label, and of course, bring drunk.
I love “Pieces” for its fantastic lyricism, and how bare Hopkins laid his soul in this one. The performance was also a personal highlight since Robin pointed me out in the crowd mid-way through the song. Heh heh...
For better or worse, it isn’t a very popular song. In fact, among the crowds packing the front of the stage that night, only one other guy was singing along to this. And he was shouting out a request for “Whitewash,” so yeah, he was a fan like me. Catching me singing along to “Pieces,” the guy and i gave each other an approving nod and a high five.
Then they suddenly slid down to “Hey Jealousy,” which had the whole house screaming. “Jealousy” is after all, considered their signature song.
“Wave Bye Bye” – many people who have heard “No Chocolate Cake” seem to be in a consensus about liking this song a lot. And yes, the title itself is a dead give-away for a finale song. My personal favourite off NCC.

“Goin’ to California”
“Now” of the Plimsouls
“Hands are Tied”

Without losing any love for the Gins, i must state on record that the entire three-song encore was honestly a “what the...?” moment for me. Of course, hearing the Gins play ANY song is a great event for me, but there were so many other songs they could have played: the aforementioned “Whitewash,” “Come On Hard,” “29,” “Mrs. Rita,” or even “Cheatin’.” It’s a damn long list of songs for me... i’d better stop right here.

P.S. I had videos for many of the songs. And yes, the band sounded great. But while i thought i could post them here... i changed my mind after reviewing them and noticing that my singing/shouting along drowned out the band and at times I screamed like a deep-voiced fag in heat.

* * * * * * * *
Robin gamely engaged the audience and did his trademark thing of singing into the cellphones of lucky concert-goers. The band played comfortably together on-stage with Jesse Valenzuela leading the way, while Bill Leen, Scott Johnson and new drummer John Richardson filled the Coliseum with the trademark Gin Blossoms sound.

All in all though, the oddly unsurprising thing tonight was how almost the entire catalogue of the Gins played randomly from any of their albums all flowed seemlessly to one another. Testament to the quality of the "Gin Blossoms sound" people know and secretly love. Never mind if Robin's voice sounded just a little bit thinner and more aged than back in "Major Lodge Victory," it still hadn't lost that yearning melancholy that gave earnest life to the songs that were invariably about being broken and trying to pick one's self back up.

And I suppose that that in no small degree will make the Gins' music immortal. At the end of the day, almost all of the songs they've become known for are love songs that pinch down in that most savage level where people with hearts simply get hurt and bleed. The songs may have been written in late 80's and the 90's, but those songs sing about things that will keep happening again and again, and sound great while doing it.

'catch you later.
Here's that cheesy fanboy band shot

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