Asia's Diamond Soul Siren Nina kicked off this year's concert season with a packed Music Museum solo show titled "Nina Reborn" last Friday, Jan. 25.
Coming out on stage bathed in bright lights, Nina - who donned a sexy white dress that highlighted her svelte figure - looked every bit the siren she is touted to be. More importantly, she sounded like one, too, as she delivered Christina Aguilera's "Wings," followed by a Jessie J medley and a spirited cover of Alicia Keys' "Girl On Fire," handling each one with much ease.
From there, Nina settled into an easy pace and treated her audience to a bunch of familiar covers tied into a neat medley of favorites: From her popular versions of "Love Moves (In Mysterious Ways)," "Somewhere Down The Road," "Loving You," "Piano In The Dark," to a pair of OPM covers, "Bukas Na Lang Kita Mamahalin," and "Hanggang Sa Dulo Ng Walang Hanggan."
It was evident from the start that the show is not just about a display of Nina's vocal prowess but it aims to highlight an overlooked facet of the R&B singer's skills. Nina as a powerhouse singer is a given, but the seeming restraint she demonstrated that night was just as effective and lent her vocals more heft and soul. She seemed at times to be singing in a feathery hush, but it certainly felt like she was reaching out to every one of her audience.
More than the intimate feel of the show, Nina did not fret over the few technical miscues, not even over the wardrobe malfunction she almost had in one of times she changed costumes. The singer spoke into the microphone even when she was offstage, and bantered breezily with those near the rafters.
Right around the second wardrobe change, the concert featured a Mariah Carey segment that comprised of a medley of "Hero," "Through The Rain," and "Vision Of Love," that put Nina right in her elements. Before that, Nina readily acknowledged Carey as her hero and role model up to this day.
Midway through the show, Nina gave truth to the adage, "big things come in small packages." Sitting on a stool at center stage, Nina handled difficult vocal runs and melismas with ease, whether it was on a Mariah cover or a revival of Pops Fernandez's "Don't Say Goodbye." Echoing most of the audience's sentiment, guest singer Jinky Vidal commented, "She's amazing isn't she? Saan kaya niya kinukuha ang boses nya?"
Highlights of the show included the time Nina took to the keyboard for a subdued reading of "Someday," with dramatic lighting and all; and when she unveiled a few songs from her new Viva Records album, "All Good." She dished out two originals about heartbreak, "When The Love Is Gone," and the light ballad "Maybe It's Too Soon."
Jinky was also on hand for an '80s music duet with Nina, and was spotlighted in two solos, "Nakakapagtaka," and "Bakit Ba Ganyan," before the headliner went back onstage to knock a few soulful numbers from the Jackson 5 song "Got To Be There," and an enthusiastic reading of the Aretha Franklin's songs "Natural Woman" and "Respect."
She closed her show on an upbeat note, busting out Rihanna's "Please Don't Stop The Music" and Madonna's "Music," as well as her encore of Chaka Khan's "Through The Fire," and the Beyoncé tune "Listen."
In one of her spiels before a song, Nina intoned, "You either take memories with you or leave them," before adding "a smart person knows when to move on." It's a statement that also applies to her journey so far. In a career as successful as hers, there are bound to be hits and misses, but Nina continues to face her future head on. After all, "Goodbyes are necessary to be born again," she said.
"Nina Reborn" is a Viva Concerts & Events production and is helmed by Paul Basinilio, under the music direction of Ian Fajarito.