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Monday, October 25, 2010

Charice got the Big Dome all shook up!

If Charice were a temblor, I would say that she got the Big Dome Saturday night all shook up with Intensity 10. No other singer in recent memory performed with such a powerful voice that she caused palpable vibration throughout the audience, so powerful in fact that, I’m sure, that if I held a glass of water, that voice would have shattered the glass the way, if what I had read somewhere was correct, Vic Damone’s vocal power did.

As the finale among the five performers (including The Canadian Tenors, Natalie Cole, Ruben Studdard and Peter Cetera) in the Hitman David Foster and Friends, staged to a likewise SRO audience last week in Japan, Charice sang four songs, hitting the high notes with such amazing ease (no effort at all, see!) that the audience responded with a standing ovation each time, starting with Power of Love, followed by Pyramid (from her hit debut album), a medley of I Have Nothing and I Will Always Love You (both Foster compositions from the movie The Bodyguard, starring Foster talent Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner), and All By Myself.

We have heard Charice sing before, on TV (local shows and in the hit US musical-drama Glee in which she plays a nerdy Filipino exchange student, the newest character on the series) and on the CD, but hearing her sing “live” in such a distinguished company was an altogether different experience. You’d wonder, where does this little girl (all of 18, not quite five feet tall) draw an overwhelming voice like that?

Thrice, Foster exclaimed, “I’m having the best time of my life!” And that’s exactly what everybody was enjoying --- probably the best concert ever mounted at the Araneta Coliseum in years.

Charice proved to be not only a golden-voiced talent but also an obedient student, addressing Foster (her godfather) with “Yes, sir!” everytime Foster talked to her. Obviously, success hasn’t affected Charice whose body language showed her still being a down-to-earth probinsyana.
That’s me and Jojo Gabinete with Cole backstage of The Big Dome last year after her show.

The good-looking Canadian Tenors kicked off the two-hour show, making women in the audience swoon. I think the smooth blending of the four guys’ voices reminded some of those in the audience of Il Divo. Their version of The Prayer was a winner.

Natalie did three songs, starting with Fever. When she sang Miss You Like Crazy (used as title and theme song of a Sam Milby and Anne Curtis movie), the audience sang along with her. Introducing her third song, Natalie said, “A lot of people got married to and made babies to this song,” with Foster adding, “and divorced.” Yes, Unforgettable which, thanks to the magic of technology, Natalie did as a duet with her father, the great Nat King Cole, while clips of her as a kid (with a few missing front teeth) and her father (“Who was forever away performing,” said Natalie in an exclusive interview with The STAR last year) were shown on the monitor.

That night, Natalie was “game,” unlike on her show also at the Big Dome last year when she was grumpy, interrupting her songs to complain against those in the audience taking pictures of her with their cellfones. It was understandable. After that show, Jojo Gabinete and I were invited backstage by the producers to have souvenir photos with Natalie who was wearing a plaster on her right chest. We learned that earlier that day, she had undergone a dialysis (she’s suffering from hepatitis C and is waiting for a donor for her kidney transplant) and, according to doctors, a one-hour procedure was equivalent to four hours of jogging.

After American Idol alumnus Studdard sang two songs, I Swear and After the Love Has Gone, Foster demonstrated how talented and creative Studdard was. Foster went down the stage and asked two ladies to think of a line each and Studdard would set it into music, accompanied by Foster on the piano. One line was “so many years” and the other, “I’ll be there for you forever.” Voila, as soon as Foster went back onstage, he and Studdard created new songs from those lines impromptu!

Here only last year, Cetera regaled the audience with familiar songs --- Hard to Say I’m Sorry, You’re My Inspiration and If You Leave Me Now --- and, you guessed it, it was sing-along time once again. “I told you,” Cetera told Foster, “you will enjoy Manila!,” before he launched into Glory of Love (another Foster song used as theme of Karate Kid). His duet with Natalie on When I Fall In Love was a show-stopper.

Foster fulfilled his promise to ask potential singers at random from the audience and to impress him within 30 seconds. Two volunteered, a lady and a teen trio. But Foster didn’t try hard enough (maybe for lack of time). Then, he picked a guy who turned out to be Randy Santiago and invited him onstage. Randy sang Wild Flower, a Foster song, and the audience gave him a heartwarming applause. I asked Randy after the show if he was “planted” and he said no, “Nagulat nga ako, eh!”

Foster went down the stage again and chose a lady --- why, it was no less than Asia’s Queen of Song Pilita Corrales! --- who obliged with a rendition of Dahil Sa’yo. “What a wonderful voice!” said Foster. “Everybody in the Philippines sings!” He probably didn’t have any idea who Pilita was.

Guess who Foster picked next --- yes, Arnel Pineda (of The Journey) who was seated “incognito” near the stage. In white shirt, denim pants and rubber shoes, Arnel was ushered onstage by Foster and he sang Hard Habit to Break (by Chicago). He, too, was not “planted.”

After Charice did her set, she was joined one by one onstage by Natalie, Studdard, Cetera and The Canadian Tenors for the rousing number What About Us which, according to Foster, he cooked up with Michael Jackson.

“I waited three years for Charice to bring me here,” said Foster, promising to come back for more, more, more next year.

I won’t be surprised if the management would report cracks at the Big Dome and blame it on Intensity 10 Charice.

What a shook-up night it was. Really, that’s what friends are for, isn’t it?



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