This issue’s article was written by guest contributor Christine Mazur, whose love for the Filipino culture extended to her having learned to speak Filipino, travelled the Philippines a number of times with his friend and bandmate aLfie vera mella, and sustained interest in exploring the Philippine Alternative/Indie music scene. A lawyer, English Literature major, violinist and songwriter, and backpack traveller, Mazur shares her adventure on her blogspot “Have Fiddle Will Travel” [http://classicalmetalheadfiddleplayer.blogspot.ca/]. Pictures were also provided by Mazur.
Ely Buendia’s Greatest Hits Live!
Saturday, October 7, 2017
Pantages Playhouse Theatre
produced by Pinoy Tribe Entertainment
Naming a concert “Greatest Hits” is wishful thinking when the artist is still writing and performing new songs and is still at his peak. Ely Buendia proved during his recent, second solo concert in Winnipeg, that he remains one of the biggest Rockers to have come out of the Philippines, and will be for a while yet.
Yes, he did deliver well-loved hits of the Eraserheads, but he also included some newer songs, like “Gabi Man, May Araw Din,” which was commissioned for the Indie film Ang Pamilyang Hindi Lumuluha. While a very sad subject, the song was hopeful and melodic with a searing guitar solo that Buendia executed with the passion of a true artist. By including newer numbers like this on a “Greatest Hits” tour, Buendia proved that he still has his songwriting chops and has improved with age, like a good wine.
Buendia was in top form, backed by the New York–based Wendell Garcia on drums, who had joined him on his North American tour in 2015, the last time he visited Winnipeg. Rhythm guitar was handled excellently by Audrey Garcia of the Philippine all-female band General Luna, whereas Carissa Ramos of Mr. Bones and the Boneyard Circus more than competently took care of the bass and whose striking aura onstage stole the hearts of many in the audience. Only one moment left the ladies hanging when Buendia shared a private joke with the audience by starting a riff of an older Eraserheads song, “Toyang,” that audience members recognized and started singing along to. Buendia joined in on the joke, but the song clearly wasn’t on the set list—he stopped after a verse and carried on with the show.
Good humoured heckling from the audience was met with a dry smile and solid musicianship from the unflappable Buendia who remained a model of cool, the quintessential laidback Rockstar from the moment he stepped on the stage in a red ruffled tuxedo shirt, white dinner jacket, and rainbow-lit sunglasses.
Mandatory hits included “Overdrive,” “Pare Ko,” “Alapaap,” “Magasin,” “With a Smile,” and of course, the finale of the evening, a rocking version—sharper and edgier than the original recording—of “Ang Huling El Bimbo.” Significantly, he paid reverential tribute to the music of his erstwhile band by dishing out a number of lesser-known songs that included “Spoliarium,” “Poorman’s Grave,” “Superproxy,” and “Shake Yer Head”; as well as throwing in a couple of songs from his other band, Pupil, such as “Nasaan Ka?”
Two years ago, he gave us a sadder, mellow version; but this time, with the entire audience singing along and his Gibson Les Paul Standard wailing away on the solos, he ended with high energy and sent home surely most in the audience satisfied.
Opening acts included local musicians such as the Filharmonic Ensemble (a trio of flute, alto sax, and keyboard); Ragdolls, the local band who won Pinoy Tribe Entertainment’s Facebook contest; and an interesting collaboration of singers, musicians, and rappers from the groups Santribo and Lyrical Anxiety, featuring Conflict Dalubhasa and MJG and Arnold of PTE. It was an interesting mix of styles to open for Buendia, ranging from light Classical Pop, to Indie Rock (an original song cowritten by the Ragdolls’ lead singer and her sister hit the spot as an opener for Buendia’s brand of Rock).
The rap ensemble, however, was in a league of its own, showcasing their vocalists and rappers’ machine-gun rap trade off that set the stage on fire throughout their set. The collective seemed to have enough energy and repertoire so as to need a concert all to themselves, which, according to Pinoy Tribe’s producer Marby Gutierrez, would be happening in the near future. A highlight for the local community was when Pinoy Tribe producer Marby Gutierrez, using the moniker MJG, joined the rappers’ delight by delivering an admirable rap tirade of his own. Ely Buendia’s “Greatest Hit Live” 2017 was hosted by CKJS DJ Chester Pangan.