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Pops Article 3

 

 

From Yushy, maker of the former Pops & Regine in concert web sites.

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For all those who wanted to find out how the Pops concert in L.A. went,
here's Calypso's review:

+++++++++++++++++++++++


It was 6:45 p.m., we had our roses, camera and gear with us when Yushy
turned the car ignition and lo and behold, a dead battery! Just the perfect
time for the battery to die on us, just when we were so hyped up for the
concert and it was supposed to start in an hour and fifteen minutes! And
all day, we were muttering to ourselves that nothing, absolutely nothing
could ruin this day... With a quick switching of cars (thanks to his
sister!) we were chasing the wind on the 110 freeway and in thirteen
minutes we were smoothly turning into the Grand Olympic Auditorium parking
lot.

I felt like a beauty pageant winner, what with the two huge bouquets of red
and pink roses for Pops that I slaved to arrange that afternoon! Yushy
alighted from the car with his very cherished camera bag and he had that
look of anticipation in his face that seemed to me like fatigue. After
all, preparation for the concert did not ensue on that day only, Yushy had
been at it since the day he found out Pops was coming for a performance!

The flower bouquets looked so huge and exquisite, all I could say to myself
was "Sana sa akin na lang ito!" Yushy read my mind and with a pat on my
head, he mumbled "Hoy, para 'yan kay Pipay!" So much for that...

Days before the concert our friend Reyza informed us that a bulk of the VIP
seats were reserved for staff and people of ABS-CBN who were commissioned
to catch the whole concert on video for Philippine viewing. True enough,
throngs of people who looked like they were "creme de la creme" were
walking about, blowing kisses to each other in the wind, waving here and
there and it felt funny for us to be in the same seats as they were.

We spent the next few minutes figuring out the best spots for taking photos
and debating who would be the opening act for the concert. I must say I am
always so taken by the aura of concerts and this was no exception. As I
sat on my fourth row seat looking at the empty stage (save for the musical
instruments and steel music stands) my mind was in awe of the number of
people waiting, the lights, and the chatter. Around me, people were in
candid conversation: "Nasaan na si Keempee?", "Tumangkad na kaya si
Janno?", "Sana mapa-autograph ko itong t-shirt ko kay Pops!"

As is his usual, Yushy carried his water bottle wherever he trod, and this
time, I saw pearls of sweat trickling down his temples. "Hindi pa nga
nagsisimula ang concert, pinapawisan ka na!", I had to say. He smiled and
said, "You would be too, if you were in my shoes!"

The lights finally dimmed, the auditorium darkened and the band members
slowly took their positions onstage. Seeing Lorrie, Sonny, Cesar, Nino,
Marvin, Kitchie, Babsie and Sylvia felt so much like seeing old friends,
like coming home! I remembered the last time I saw them and it was at the
Queens of Pop Concert in San Jose. I could only sport a very prolonged
grin. Each of them acknowledged each other with warm smiles and Lorrie very
contentedly sat down after nonchalantly surverying the crowd they were
performing for. Soon after, it was time and the band wove the magic that
they usually do during concerts.

The audience kept shouting her name and soon, a very beautiful Pops wearing
tight black patterned pants and a long sleeved blouse came out from the
center, to sing a round of upbeat songs. Her shorter hair gave her a more
youthful charisma. She began with a medley of some Filipino hits from the
70's like "Bongga Ka 'Day," and "Awitin Mo at Isasayaw Ko" and went on to
render her version of Cher's "Do You Believe?." At this point, Yushy was
so much into taking his pictures and I was busy keeping track of how many
rolls of film he used up. I rolled my eyes left and right, with my neck
craning towards the front, trying as much as I can to spot Janno or Keempee
or Bing Loyzaga amongst the crowd. For a minute there, I was trying to
imagine how it would be like in Yushy's shoes, with that sophisticated
equipment called a camera draped over his shoulders. He may not have the
freedom of movement to dance with the beat but I'm sure with those powerful
lenses over his glasses, his view of Pops, and the rest of the performers
would be oh so neat!

Later on, Pops took her seat on a wooden stool and sang slow tunes
including the theme song from her ABS-CBN tv-show "Nagmamahal Pa Rin
Sa'yo." Yushy took this opportunity to hand her one of the rose bouquets,
and I bet you it delighted him when, as he handed her the flower creation,
Pops looked him in the eye and declared gleefully: "I know you!" He came
back to sit right next to me with that huge smile painted on his face but
less then a minute after that he was once again clicking away with his
Minolta.

Young ladies shrieked, hollered, screamed and clapped when Pops called out
Keempee de Leon onstage. I tugged at Yushy's sleeve and exclaimed "Bakit
naka-pajama siya?" We both snickered at that and even more so when Pops
kidded him about it and said exactly the same thing. Keempee has improved
so much in his singing and partied with the crowd with the songs "Let's
Groove Tonight," and Usher's "You Make Me." Pops later on joined him (this
time wearing a very elegant burgundy bustier) to sing a medley of James
Taylor's hits like "You've Got a Friend."

Keempee made a smooth exit for Pops to come in once again and she danced
and sang to the beat of "If You Can Read My Mind." This was followed by a
round of classic Filipino love songs as arranged by Lorrie Ilustre.
"Sinasamba Kita," "Kung Kailangan Mo Ako," and "Maging Sino Ka Man" were
made alive with essence and spirit with Lorrie's artful arrangement.
Everything would have been great if not for this person right behind me who
decided she would be the fourth back-up singer for the concert as she sang
all the songs loudly and with gusto. The only problem was, she wasn't sure
about her notes! Great...

My mind swam into thoughts of Janno Gibbs and when he will finally come
onstage since I have been a fan of his for as long as I can remember. I
recall nights hurrying with homework, to spend more time watching "Ober Da
Bakod" (where he coined the name Mokong) and the series of teeny bopper
movies eons ago. As if the stage director read my mind, Janno Gibbs
suddenly comes rushing onto the stage from the center, with the band
playing a fiery introduction of his hit remake "Ipagpatawad Mo." He had me
guffawing with his "Six Million Dollar Man" entrance, and his black leather
jacket which he took off eventually. Naiinitan siguro!!! True to his
form, Janno Gibbs was so funny! He communicated more with his spontaneity,
facial and body expressions than his words did and it was how he charmed
his audience (most specially me!) so much. Yushy at times would pause from
clicking away at the camera to laugh with me at Janno's antics and he was
so impressed when Janno sang Ricky Martin's hit "Uno, Dos, Tres."

Pops joined him to sing Stephen Bishop's "It Might Be You" after which
Janno left the stage and Pops sang Jezza Zaragoza's hit song.

The lights then darkened and Pops readied herself and came out in a black
outfit and got the crowd dancing. She delivered her version of
Sampaguita's hits with much more verve than the Queens of Pop Concert in
San Jose. I came from the back just in time to see more than half of the
people in the VIP seats up on their toes and shaking with the beat. I
found myself doing the same thing and actually having fun! The dancing
didn't cease there, Keempee and Janno came to join her and this time she
had a medley of Janet Jackson's "Velvet Rope" hits. Yushy was already in
front of the stage, so were most people, either taking photos or just
breaking it down.

The band was finally acknowledged and I honestly feel they deserve so much
more credit than people actually credit them for. They are the best!
I wanted to run up there and hand them each a bouquet of roses but then all
we had left were remnants of the "baby's breath" from Pops' bouquet so I
thought, nah! maybe next time...

Janno, Pops and Keempee sang a "supposed" final Filipino fast song and
although they left the stage after that, the audience just kept asking for
more. Lorrie stealthily walked to the back, and I knew we were in for
more. I was amazed! People were already neck and neck near the stage, and
nobody wanted the concert to end just yet. In my years of watching
concerts, I have not seen an audience so dynamic as this! Pops was so
invigorated both by her guests and the intensity and warmth of the audience
that she came out for two encore performances. I knew that if fatigue
hadn't taken its toll on the performers, the audience would have been more
than pleased to see a third encore. She sang a medley of some top 40's
hits and her face showed just how pleased and happy she was with the
turnout of her L.A. concert.

Everyone was slowly filing out of the auditorium, but Yushy and I hung
around for a little while longer and I was trying to absorb what was left
of the concert aura. He got to speak with the bandmember Sonny Azurin who
offered to take him backstage and I don't know what he ate that night, but
Yushy actually declined!

You could tell from the looks on people's faces that what just transpired
was not like any other concert. It took the auditorium security more than
six times to ask the crowd to clear the arena, and even then, the area just
five meters away was warm with throngs of people.

A crowd was gathered near the concessionaire booth where Pops, Janno and
Keempee entertained fans and signed autographs. It was almost impossible
to weave our way inside but thanks to our friend Reyza, we got our photo
signed by no less than Pops herself. I don't want to imagine how difficult
it was for the security to reckon with us fans as all their instructions to
leave the place fell on totally deaf ears! There was no order or queue,
from left, right, up and down, people charged forward towards Pops, Keempee
and Janno with their photos, CDs, shirts, posters and what have you.

On the drive home, Yushy and I were in agreement when we felt that the
concert ended too soon. I guess that is how it is when you are having fun,
you do not notice time ebbing away. I looked out the window more than once
during the ride back and still, thoughts of the concert flooded my memory.
"I can't wait 'til those pictures come out! I really got good shots of the
performance!" Yushy exclaimed. Smiles kept creeping into my lips and he
seemed to notice. He said, "O, bat ka nakangiti? Nasisiraan ka na ba?" "I
never had so much fun as I had today in a concert!" I told him… And it was
true. Pops is truly one heck of a performer, concert queen and mother.
Pops truly is still the one.

Calypso
April 25, 1999

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