Utilising the three word method to describe the Manila stop on the Asian leg of IL Divo’s Amor & Passion World Tour, I’d have to throw out, entertaining, humorously-awkard, and vocally-impressive, okay that’s five words but I hyphenated.
If you haven’t heard of them think, the Three Tenors, performing pop classics with the swagger of a modern crooner like Micheal Buble, a.k.a. operatic pop. The vocal prowess of this 4 member group cannot be denied even by the uninitiated, hearing them for just a moment, it’s obvious these guys can sing. And sing well, with a vocal harmony not often heard.
Rarely, do vocalists wilfully decide to perform with a full orchestra and it’s a rare event for a reason, not many singers can compete with that kind of abundance of sound. There’s so many instruments compiled and with such a robust production, along with four vocals, it can quickly morph into one-hot-mess if not orchestrated properly.
Interestingly, the four men, Urs Buhler, Carlos Marin, Sebastian Izambard and David Miller, hail from various parts of the globe, Switzerland, Spain, France and America, respectfully. They’ve been around for awhile now, they released their first album in 2004, and have sold tens of millions of albums worldwide. On their last visit to Manila the concert featured the world renowned Lea Selonga, coincidentally, this time around they were joined on stage by Lea’s brother, Gerrard Salonga, directing the ABS-CBN Philharmonic Orchestra.
The Meralco Theatre, with it’s wonderful, world-class acoustics, was a perfect venue for this one. It was quite the elaborate production with dancers, multiple levels of staging and various wardrobe changes while addressing the crowd in-between songs. Carlos and David spoke with the audience most often with a seasoned stage presence that was reassuring. I always appreciate when performers incorporate humour into their shows, and not everyone can do it.
“They say that sex and marriage is like the Coke Cola, at first it’s regular, then it’s Light, then Zero.” Carlos told the audience as they erupted in laughter.
The theme of the night was more of a Latin lover shtick, whether explaining their history, the background of a song or dishing out some corny one liners, all of which were curiously entertaining. Some of the words were obviously rehearsed but at other times it was off-the-cuff and the audience was laughing on more than one occasion. With 29 tracks on the setlist, they performed for close to three hours, not often experienced in today’s concert scene, you got your moneys worth with this one. There was even an intermission, a solid KTV like video presentation and they each had a solo performance, with David as the obvious crowd favourite, the standing ovation was a dead giveaway, with his operatic version of “Nessun Dorma”.
The dancers may have been a bit over the top, at times it appeared that a gang of performers from my Mom’s favourite TV show, “Dancing with the Stars”, had decided to crash the party. At various intervals of the event, it was refreshing to see them perform on other instruments, Carlos comfortably sat at the piano and Urs performed with ease on the electric guitar, as he later explained, that back in the 80’s he played with a rock band called “Conspiracy”. Sebastian even played a small accordion, a concertina, in a cafe sidewalk scene reminiscent of something you might see in a Disney broadway musical, with period costumed dancers to complete the visual tale within the song.
My favourite for the night was “Hallelujah”, a Leonard Cohen song popularised by the late great, Jeff Buckley, I love that song and they performed it well, without any of the hoopla. I preferred the simpler portions of the show like in “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina”, without all of the shenanigans their vocals shined through. Just relatively motionless, sitting on the stairs while singing was enough for me, although, you could see how that would become boring after a few tracks, so I appreciated their effort in mixing things up.
The real challenge here is not readily apparent, it’s the combining of the four voices themselves that makes them distinct, regardless of the on-stage antics, a full orchestra or whatever other add-on you can think of. The magic here was in the vocals themselves, as they swooned the crowd and provided an unparalleled concert that is an unmistakable sound that is “IL Divo”.
Special thanks going out to Pulp Live for bringing them to town…
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