MANILA, Philippines - It takes no genius to figure out how much of a world-class talent Charice truly is. And though she really need not establish that fact to her countless fans here and abroad, she has nevertheless proven herself to be so all the same with her "Infinity Tour" concert at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on March 9.
Rocking her new and much-debated look-she now sports a cropped and dyed hair as well as a tattoo-Charice came out onstage looking consistent with the "edgy" new persona she's going for, donning dark-hued leather vests, jackets and gloves together with tattered pants.
The international singing sensation opened her one-night only performance an hour later than expected to the tune of Usher/David Guetta's pop hit "Without You." Quite a bizarre choice of opening song for someone who is touring her own album, if you ask me; nevertheless, she turned things around with her second song "Lesson for Life" from her sophomore album "Infinity."
Banking on her pure and intense singing voice alone, Charice and her production team opted for simplicity-the stage was largely unadorned save for a mesh curtain as a backdrop and two small LED TVs flanking both sides. There were practically no high-tech special effects, no overrated dramatic videos; it was just Charice, the audience and her undoubtedly beautiful voice.
Although confessing that she's "more pressured" when performing in front of her kababayans, it hardly ever showed throughout the night as she showcased her wide vocal range with a variety of covers, medleys and originals songs she performed.
Charice turned down her vocal power a little when she went soulful singing Justin Bieber's "Baby" and Katy Perry's "The One That Got Away." The covers that stood out the most, though, were her version of Adele's "Someone Like You" and Eric Clapton's "Tears in Heaven," a song that, according to her, she dedicates to her late father Ricky Pempengco who passed away last year.
The concert was laden with mashups and medleys of hit songs as well, like Lady Gaga's "Edge of Glory" and Journey's "Faithfully;" as well as Michael Jackson classics "Billie Jean" and "The Way You Make Me Feel," which merited a loud applause from the audience as Charice busted out the famous dance moves of the late superstar.
Naturally, there were her original hits from her "Infinity" album such as "In Love So Deep," "Take You Down," "Bounce Back," "Heartbreak Survivor" (which was composed by pop star Jojo) and "Lighthouse" (which was written by Natasha Bedingfield). Though, the aforementioned songs were nothing short of perfection in terms of rhythm, appeal and performance, the best one in the lot would have to be the Bruno Mars-written "Before It Explodes," with Charice practically breathing so much life into that song that it blows American singer Alexandra Burke's version out of the water!
Among the other sidelights of the show was her performance of Maroon 5's "Moves Like Jagger" with her "Little Big Stars" Big and Little division co-alumni Sam Concepcion, Rhap Salazar, Makisig Morales, Kyle Balili and Gian Barbarona.
The crowd favorites were definitely her performances of her chart-topping songs "Louder" and her duet with American rapper Iyaz for "Pyramid," which elicited a sing-along with the audience. Iyaz himself performed three of his hit songs at the concert.
Charice also made good her promise of staging a "special tribute" to the late legendary singer Whitney Houston in her tour, performing Houston's 1985 hit "Saving All My Love For You." And for her finale song, the 20-year-old singer sang the classic "I Will Always Love You," a song that she had always sung in the past four years of a thriving career in the international scene.
Although the crowd certainly turned up to appreciate Charices's talent, perhaps it wouldn't have hurt had Charice and her team been more flexible about her "solo concert." Because while Charice's performance level shot through the roof, there was an obvious lack in the production side as characterized by the underdressed stage and the absence of backup dancers and even backup singers, which, whether they admit or not, could've enlivened the show a little bit more.
More, Charice's recorded voice that played in the background in between performances whereby she recounted the journey and trials before she landed in the limelight could've used a little tweaking here and there. The photo/video montage that played on the LED TVs probably could've added a little life to those gaps, just so the audience would have something to watch instead of staring blankly into the darkness.
All in all, though, the nasty blind items were right in their prediction that Charice wouldn't be able to pack the venue (the number of concert attendees are subpar compared to Vice Ganda's and Anne Curtis' shows at the same venue, in fact), it doesn't necessarily mean that her concert was any less successful. Because, to be perfectly honest, it's the audience's loss to not have not seen Charice pour her whole soul into her first-ever solo concert in the country as international star.