Rivera (left) and Valdez
Surviving the continuing threat of the pandemic should be considered an achievement in itself—a “feat” that is worth celebrating.
This is exactly what OPM luminaries Basil Valdez and Jamie Rivera recently did—celebrate with an audience during their first public performance via their “Love and Light” concert, produced by Full House Theater Company at the Resorts World Manila’s Newport Performing Arts Theater.
If the audience turnout that night was any indication of the country’s steady return to live performances, then we’re hopeful that this trend will continue. After all, music is a balm for a tired soul and a weary heart.
Basil opened the show with a staple of his OPM hits: “Nais Ko,” “Paraisong Parisukat” and the crowd favorite “Kahit Ika’y Panaginip Lang”—his homage to his friend and longtime collaborator, National Artist Ryan Cayabyab.
Basil said that his enduring partnership with Mr. C spans 45 years, beginning in 1977, when he was asked to sing “Paraisong Parisukat,” which later won Best Movie Theme Song that year.
The “money notes” were rendered by the balladeer in a lower register, but that didn’t take away the fact that the luster of Basil’s voice has remained brilliant—because he sounded exactly the same as he did in the original recording, but with much gusto.
Jamie followed suit, opening her set with “Somewhere” from “West Side Story.” Her engagement with the audience is a stark difference from that of Basil, whose delivery was more formal and reserved.
She shared her experience dealing with the pandemic and reminisced about more hopeful times when she was a kid. This segues into her rendition of the Angela Bofill hit, “You Should Know Now.” The nostalgic trip continued in the middle of her number as she shared a duet with her younger self singing the same song from her 18th birthday on a screen.
While her rendition of both songs was not as polished, Jamie acquitted herself better when she sang a medley of her earlier hits from her first label OctoArts, including “Hey, It’s Me,” “I’ve Fallen For You,” “Awit Para Sa ’Yo” and “Mahal Naman Kita”—which drove the titos and titas in the audience to a hearty and catchy singalong.
Jamie asked how many in the audience saw the musical “Miss Saigon,” and followed up the question as to which Kim they saw. With Lea Salonga being the likeliest answer, Jamie jokingly poked fun at herself when she said, “Nag-‘Miss Saigon’ din po ako… may resibo po ako.” Then, she closed her set with “I’d Give My Life for You,” coupled with a “video receipt” of her playing the coveted role in the West End.
Basil serenaded the audience with what he touted as three of the most difficult songs of the evening, all composed by the late, great George Canseco. As the first notes of his signature song “Ngayon at Kailanman” played, Basil was greeted with a rousing applause.
This was followed by the delicate “Salamin ng Buhay,” a song that he described could be the most “philosophical song” he has ever recorded, with lyrics that cut through universal truths. He capped the Canseco tribute with the more hopeful “Ngayon.”
But the night felt more complete when Basil sang the much-anticipated audience favorite “You,” which had the audience singing along to the timeless ballad.
The momentum was sustained by Jamie when she sang a medley of ’80s dance hits, including “Build Me Up, Buttercup,” “Just Got Lucky,” “Mickey,” “Karma Chameleon,” “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” and “Head Over Heels”—probably the most delightful part of the entire concert.
As the so-called “Inspirational Diva,” Jamie also sang the soothing likes of “Jubilee Song,” “Tell the World of His Love” and “Heal Our Land.”
The cherry on top in this string of devotional renditions was Basil singing “Lead Me Lord,” a song which perhaps many of us turned to in times of uncertainty and discernment. Singing this at the age of 70, Basil said that this song has taken a deeper meaning as it has carried him through the most challenging times of his life. “Lahat tayo may pinagdaanan, dapat tayo may panghawakan,” he said.
Later, in keeping with the show’s title, the duo conveyed blessings upon their audience through the songs “Lift Up Your Hands” and “Our Father” as their respective encore numbers.
In these troubling and uncertain times, we need all the radical love we can afford to give and that glimmer of light in the darkness, even if it is just a tiny spark. It would take years before we reach true recovery, but until then, Basil and Jamie’s set list for “Love and Light” was a timely reminder not to lose hope as we try to carry on.
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