Everyone I know in my Erik Santos circle of friends (aka ESFO for Erik Santos Friends Online) was eagerly looking forward to our musical icon’s BIG birthday concert, the one where it felt like the stars aligned coz how often do you get to have a concert on your birthday that falls on the tenth day of the tenth month of 2010? So we were a little bit bummed upon hearing that the concert got bumped to an earlier date, and the title being “Voices, Erik Santos Live at the Meralco Theater.” Taking things in stride (since we will support Erik Santos no matter how generic the title of his concert is), things turned to look upward when the show was retitled “POWER OF ONE” which obviously suits the very classy venue, and even more so when we got wind of the kind of songs he was going to sing. The roster of guests didn’t hurt either, with name-droppables Regine and Martin headlining the guestlist.
“This is going to be my best concert so far,” the Prince of Pop said, what with the very carefully chosen repertoire that was so vocally challenging, most of the songs felt like a finale in itself. It demanded so much from him as well as from the band (under Mr. Homer Flores) that Erik was naturally nervous of course. What if he won’t have the vocal power for the second night? What if the heavy songs would be too much for the audience? But as one of my cohorts in the ESFO circle retorted, audiences should expect nothing less with a title like that and a singer like Erik Santos.
September 24 came, and though it didn’t rain as it usually does on Erik’s concerts, it was major major traffic going to Meralco Theater. ESFO was asked to help in the ushering so some of us were there early. I, on the other hand, had to brave the 6pm traffic. I arrived just before it turned 7 and the lobby was already full of people lining up and Sam Concepcion was being his bubbly self to cover this event for ASAP All Access. Ate Wheng and Maia greeted guests and pointed them to the right door, and then they were assisted by Ienne, Jonathan and EJ. Sponsor booths were all over and I was glad to see Argentina didn’t have to cook there (they asked if they could) coz I did not want to step into the theater smelling like corned beef.
The concert started without fuss. It got dim and a video with Sharon Cuneta flashed on the 24-ft wide LED video wall on the stage so I thought it was a promo video for Star Power, her new show co-hosted by Erik. But Zsazsa, Gary, Nina, Sarah and other ASAP stars came one after the other saying something with the word “power” and it ended with Erik saying “Coz I believe in the moment, and I still believe in the Power of One!” The Power is now unleashed!
The band started playing in sync with the play of lights, and a few moments later the video wall parted in half, the silhouette of the man we all came there for slowly fading as he walks forward to the frenzied audience. The moment he shouted “rivers belong where they can ramble, eagles belong where they can fly….” it started the night that proved once again that Erik Santos belongs to the stage.
I used a video of Erik’s performance of “Corner of the Sky” (from the musical Pippin) from the ABS Christmas Special from years back (link here ) for the FB promo of the concert coz it is one of my favorite performances and it clearly showcased his power. Imagine my surprise when Erik texted that I take down the video coz it is part of the concert repertoire (and the opening no less!). It might pre-empt the concert, he said. But I convinced him to let it be since I already started using it for the promo and the song being quite unfamiliar, it will be good to let people know about it. Anyway, he did the song wonderfully, with backup done by the UP Singing Ambassadors. ESFO would have given him the first standing ovation of the night had there been a break between Corner and the next song, the equally powerful but more upbeat “When Doves Cry” (originally by Prince). I must say this song really brings out the best in Erik and the band. The beat is really catchy.
Erik then segued into his boy band roots (he was part of the group DNA which we only heard of after Erik won Star in a Million) with their “music videos” flashing onscreen with a very young and very thin Erik. He sang two songs from two of the biggest boy groups ever – The Beatles and The Bee Gees – “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” and “How Deep is Your Love,” which started the mellowest part of the evening. He went into the audience and looked for his mom and after that gave the stage to his first guests, the Acoustic Girls. They sang Swift’s “Love Story” and Bieber’s “Baby” then launched into Gaga’s “Telephone” wherein Erik came back with his dance moves. Erik sang with the girls for their “Believing” Medley that ended with the song “Don’t Stop Believing.”
The almost legendary Rey Valera Medley came next, and it still gets its hold on the audience. Mr. Valera’s songs really touch people and when Erik sings them, they are just taken to a whole new level. Most powerful, indeed. In keeping with the somber mood of this portion, “Broken Vow” came next, which featured an almost teary-eyed Erik Santos, reminding people of his venture into acting via MMK.
Ultimate Champion and Erik’s dear friend Rachelle Ann Go came next and she brought the house down with her version of Patti LaBelle’s “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” You can see here that Erik really wanted his guests to showcase their power, and Rachelle Ann made sure she did. I will never forget when she said that we are so right in our choice of singer to support (“Hindi kayo nagkamali ng sinusuportahang singer”) because more than being a good singer, Erik is a very good friend. Erik came back onstage with her to do a duet of “Memory/The Way We Were” and “To Where You Are,” doubling the champion power on these Broadway songs.
After saying goodbye to Rachelle, Erik mentioned he was about to do something he has never done in a concert before. He sang Basil’s “Iduyan Mo” and the surprise came when he partnered it with the song “Se” from the movie Cinema Paradiso. Think of his previous mashup of “Got to Believe in Magic” and “Tunay na Ligaya” but this time it’s a mashup of a Tagalog and an Italian song. He had to memorize the Italian lyrics and sing it in an operatic manner so double the surprise there. I think Erik was not just showcasing his vocal range, he was also showing his memorizing power. Haha. But truly, this was one inspiring number.
Erik then thanked his sponsors but not without being creative. He thanked some of them while impersonating other performers like Gary (who was present and laughing at Erik’s breathy impersonation of him), Janno, Ogie, Sam, Piolo and Mark Bautista who is the endorser of one of the food sponsors and who was also there that night. Next came the medley of one of Erik’s musical icons, Michael Jackson. Homer Flores did a wonderful arrangement of the songs “Man in the Mirror” “Black and White” “The Way You Make Me Feel” and “Billie Jean.” I’m sure Gary V. was very pleased.
TO BE CONTINUED… Part 2