Concert Review: Hail the Concert Christmas King!
By Alwin M. Ignacio
What an enchanted evening! What a musical night! What a glorious three-hour spectacular! What a night to welcome the holiday season!
Trust the Philippines’ Concert King Martin Nievera ensuring that all the naughty and nice get their humongous fill of yuletide cheers and joy as he gave a world class performance on the first day of Christmas, last December 1 at Manila’s premiere concert venue, the Theatre at Solaire with Martin Home for Christmas.
Without any doubt, Martin was in his best element during the more than two hours concert that officially ushered in the season of giving, gifts and love. He showed to all the people present in the full-packed venue why his reign as concert king continues.
His voice is fuller and more textured, clarity is exceptional, and the brilliance potent and powerful; no evidence of wear and tear, even after thirty years of performing. All the right emotions, all the sentiments, nuances, subtexts of all the songs that were part of his exhaustive repertoire – the audience felt it! No vocal styling. Pure and honest singing from the heart.
Aside from his songs, his gift for gab and the ability to make people laugh was also in top shape. He had the audience on the palm of his hands. All his jokes, the high and mighty crowd laughed at it with so much gusto. They also came to watch the concert in their designer outfits and accessories, couture and glamorized.
They embraced the hilarious side of Nievera. They reacted with rich and educated laughter.
Even the jokes of Martin that had sexual undertones and those that bordered on the controversial, Nievera knew how to tweak and fine tune it and made it “wholesome” and “palatable.” Martin was most sensitive to the reactions of his adoring public.
He sang these ditties with so much respect for the artists who originally did it. The arrangements were not changed. His interpretation of songs gave a new lease of life to them –“Don’t Know What to Do (Don’t Know What to Say)”by Ric Segreto, “You” by Basil Valdez at “Never Ever Say Goodbye” by Nonoy Zuniga.
As expected, the Theatre crowd’s reaction was electric and the applause, instantaneous.
He gave a performance of the highest order during the Broadway Suite. The medley reminded you of a special and grand production number that only one can witness during the pang-Tony Awards.
Kudos to musical director Louie Ocampo, for weaving this beautifully crafted musical theater segment. The experience became even more awe- inspiring and emotionally riveting because of Nievera’s powerful vocals and the energetic performance of the ABS-CBN Philharmonic Orchestra.
The iconic songs from“West Side Story,” the “Phantom of the Opera,” “Evita,” and “Cats”became so potent and alive! The segment concluded with the climax song, “This Is the Moment”from Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. After the number, the audience inside the Theatre gave the Concert King a most deserving standing ovation.
Since Martin officially welcomed the holiday season, his renditions of holiday carols and other Christmas tunes that are very much identified with him, were all so pleasant to the ears, making hearts marshmallowy and sentimental.
He sang “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” the “Christmas Song,” “Christmas Won’t Be the Same Without You”and his latest Christmas song collaboration with Ocampo, “AllI Want.”
Of course, no concert of Nievera will be complete without him singing his anthems–“How Can Me,” “Ikaw,” “Kahit IsangSaglit,”“You Are to Me,”“Ikaw Lang ang Mamahalin,” “Say That You Love Me” and “No Way to Treat a Heart.”
All these songs, interpreted with clarity, all the emotions pure and sincere as if it was the first time Martin was singing it. He gave the sufficient amount of emotional gravitas for each, so no wonder, this portion brought a lot of tears to the collective eyes and yes, it was a near orgasmic experience for the majority of people who have loved and lost, to those who are still longing and to those who are still loving. He triggered movies in their minds and hearts.
His encore, Martin did“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” his first biggest hit “Be My Lady” and he capped the night with “You Are My Song.”
His most memorable guests include Matteo Guidicelli, who did a duet with the concert king, Corner of the Sky from Pippin. Guidecelli’s voice is so ready for a musical theater production, what with his impressive vocal timbre and range, plus his perfect pronunciation and enunciation of the lyrics.
Martin also had duets with sister Vicky Nievera and first born son Robin Nievera.
During his number with Robin, they performed “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” and you can see in Martin’s face how proud he is of his son. The reality that they sang and shared the stage together, this baby of his who is now taller than him, was another unforgettable father and son moment for the two.
KZ Tandingan, also another special guest, sang two special numbers.
Martin Home for Christmas was truly the perfect concert to herald the season of goodwill, friendship, generosity and love.