The last time Rick Astley performed in Manila in 2008, we couldn’t care less because the thought of him singing his teenybopper hits “Never Gonna Give You Up” and “Together Forever,” at that time when he was 42, seemed incongruous.
And when a video of that concert, held at Smart Araneta Coliseum, was posted on YouTube showing the British pop star calling Pinoy actor-TV host Roderick Paulate to jam onstage, we were not amused.
But now that Astley is set to return for a gig on Nov. 30 at a smaller venue, The Theatre at Solaire, the idea of watching him is not bad at all. Why so? Because apparently he has evolved into a seasoned artist—a true-blue singer-songwriter and musician in control of his craft.
It should be noted that, after scoring a string of hit singles in the US and UK charts, Astley—who started out singing in a local church choir in England at age 10 and playing the drums in school bands—sought to put substance into his music by exploring soul, R&B and other genres.
Two fine examples are “It Would Take a Strong, Strong Man” and “Cry For Help”—two songs that would convince the skeptic to take another look at Astley’s artistic gifts.
There’s more to discover, because he went on to record a wide variety of classic tunes—which hopefully he’ll sing at his Solaire show.
The Theatre at Solaire, Aseana Ave., Parañaque; tel. 888-8888
Side A rocks
Another wrong misconception is that the Filipino band Side A is in limbo after its frontman Joey Generoso went solo. On the contrary, Side A sounds more vibrant and exciting these days—as its recent gig at Historia revealed.
The band’s current lineup—guitarist Leevon Cailao, bassist Ned Esguerra, drummer Ernie Severino, keyboardist Naldy Gonzales and new lead singer Yubs Esperat—surprised us with dynamic covers of ’80s hits including “Head Over Heels” (not the Tears For Fears tune, but the Go Go’s!), “Always Something There to Remind Me” (the Naked Eyes version), Billy Joel’s “Sometimes A Fantasy,” and A-ha’s “Take On Me.”
All the band members played with so much energy and passion that they seemed to be enjoying what they’ve been doing all these years.
Historia Boutique Bar and Restaurant, 5 Sgt. Esguerra Ave., Quezon City; tel. 3766520
Two young performers worth checking out are Rex Apacible and Toni Galang, aka the acoustic duo T-Rex—whom we saw performing at a party in the bar of Celebrity Sports Plaza in Capitol Hills, Quezon City.
Our friend Christopher Inductivo was celebrating his birthday that night, and we were glad to have attended the intimate gathering because, aside from the delectable Elar’s lechon and fine cabernet sauvignon that were served, T-Rex dished out finger-snapping takes on Stephen Bishop, Andy Gibb, Delfonics, Carole King and Stephen Speaks hits.
The party ended with the birthday boy himself singing with his brother-in-law Jay Durias.
The restaurant row that is Maginhawa Street is always crowded with diners on most days and nights. Two places in the area that have become favorites are Pino Resto Bar and Artsy Café.
Pino is actually on Malingap Street off Maginhawa; people go there for its creative twists on classic Pinoy cuisine, including Kare-Kareng Bagnet, which we enjoy with San Miguel Pale Pilsen.
Artsy is popular for its generous servings of salads, steaks, and especially Bonoan bangus.
It doesn’t serve alcohol, but it offers a good variety of coffee and is open till 11 p.m.
Pino Resto Bar, 39 Malingap St., Teacher’s Village, Quezon City; tel. 4411773
Artsy Café, 36 Maginhawa St., UP Village, Quezon City; tel. 4349487