Friday, November 2, 2012

Concert Review: Wilson Phillips enthralls Manila with their sentimental pop hits

Wilson Phillips enthralls Manila with their sentimental pop hits
Written by Jamie Ortega
Photo by Jep Senir

One of the brightest memories from my childhood was of a music video with a group of girls singing their hearts out atop a mountain. They were pretty, stylish, and they had amazing voices. Their song Hold On gave me hope. As I was going through the usual growing pains of failing grades, class bullies and unreasonably strict parents, that song encouraged me to look toward better days. Thus began my admiration for Carnie Wilson, Wendy Wilson and Chynna Philips, collectively known as Wilson Philips. I fell in love with their other hit songs as well like Youre In Love, Impulsive, and Release Me. I had cassette tapes and even vinyl records of their self-titled debut album and their second album, Shadows And Light.

With that being said, I was really excited when I found out that they were coming to Manila for a one night show at the Mall Of Asia Arena. I simply had to hear the songs of my youth, and thanks to the kind people at Random Minds productions, I did! Before the pop trio performed last Friday, October 12, 2012 two very interesting front acts put the audience  in a very good mood (despite the horrible traffic outside)- retail princess turned jazz singer  Bea Tantoco and YouTube sensation Zandy Rose Tenerefe. I was really impressed by Zandy who delivered stirring, goose bump-inducing renditions of Leona Lewis’ Bleeding Heart and Whitney Houston’s I Will Always Love You.

After two entertaining front acts, the pop trio finally appeared on stage, inciting excited cheers and screams from their Pinoy fans that waited for more than 10 years to see their pop idols perform live! What followed after that was an hour and a half of nostalgic tunes from the ‘60s, ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90 starting with It’s Only Life, the leading track from the trio’s second album. After that was Dedicated To The One I Love from their latest album Dedicated, an album inspired by the girl’s parents. To those unfamiliar with the Wilson Philips’ truly inspiring showbiz lineage, Carnie and Wendy Wilson are daughters of Beach Boys legendary writer and producer Brian Wilson and Chyna Philips is the daughter of John and Michelle Phillips of the band Mamas And Papas.

Aside from their charming vocal harmonies and inspiring song lyrics, I also marveled at how comfortable the ladies were on stage. They made their audience feel like they were in the living room with them, chatting with their best friends. Carnie, Wendy and Chynna cracked jokes with one another and made the audience chuckle with their impersonations of Cher, Taylor Dayne, and Cyndi Lauper. 

In many ways the concert felt like it was also the trios’ way of thanking the people who’ve helped them along the way, from their parents to their musical influences like Elton John and Abba. Unlike other groups who perform covers and copy everything from the song’s notes and riffs, Wilson Phillips truly made their rendition of Elton John’s Daniel their own with their unique harmony-rich sound and captivating melodies.
The highlight of most concerts is when the performers sing their biggest hits, and this show was no different. The screams and cheers in the arena reached an all-time high when the girls began to sing the opening lines of their mega-hit You’re In Love. I could almost picture the ex-girlfriends or the ex-boyfriends in the minds of the audience as they sang the song with all the strength they could muster.

Ever been obsessed with a song but completely clueless with the history and meaning behind the song? Chynna Philips put all questions regarding the meaning of her parents hit tune California Dreaming to rest as she explained how the song came about. According to Chynna it was 1963 and her song mother was newly married to John Philips. They were living in New York City, which was having particularly cold winter, at least by Michelle's standards as she was from sunny California. John would walk around the apartment at night working out tunes, and one morning brought the first verse of the song to Michelle. It was a song about longing to be in another place, and it was inspired by Michelle's homesickness. Michelle enjoyed visiting churches, and a few days before, she and John visited St. Patrick's Cathedral, which inspired the second verse.

California Dreams was followed by You Wont See Me Cry, their hit single from their Shadows And Light album and another cover, the band’s rendition of Beach Boys’ Wouldn’t It Be Nice with Wendy singing the lead vocals this time around. Even if I wasn’t born in the ‘60s and ‘70s I enjoyed listening to these songs because of their timeless flavor and sweet melodies that effortlessly brought me back in time.  What followed after that was a real treat for Wilson Phillips fans, for the first time after 20 years they sang Don’t Take Me Down, also from their Shadows And Light album. This was followed by another cover, their version of the emotionally-charged Go Your Own Way, a Fleetwood Mac classic. 

Veering away from the series of ballads in the show’s playlist was the 11th song that night, a  delightful  Abba medley of Dancing Queen and Does Your Mother Know that brought the audience to their feet! Having Chynna say, “If there are any dancers in the audience stand up,” helped of course although it really didn’t take a lot of time to make us party loving Filipinos shake our booty’s like there was no tomorrow! Is there any prom in the world that didn’t play Dancing Queen? I didn’t think so!

The energy rose even further when the first notes of Impulsive came on, the third single from their debut album. As the girls were making so many people’s dreams come true on stage, I realized why  I loved these girls so much, their songs weren’t just songs they were girl-power anthems! They didn’t dwell on the sad things that were happening in their life, they loved, they lost, and they moved on. And in many ways and through many songs they taught me to do that as well.

It really seemed as if the girls saved the best for last, judging by the last leg of the concert made up of another mega-hit Release Me and the Beach Boys Kokomo which according to them was a really apt song for them to sing because they were in a tropical a country.

Songs, just like people, have their own lifespan. They can be heard nearly every hour on the radio at the peak of their career till they die a slow death only to be played once a week at best. When Wilson Philips released their debut album Wilson Philips in 1990 it hit no 1 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart on June 9, 1990, bumping Madonna’s Vogue off the top spot. The song was given a “second wind” or so to speak when it climbed to the charts after the song and the girls were included in Oscar-nominated comedy Bridesmaids. At the press conference the day before the concert Chynna revealed how their cameo came about. “Since we haven’t appeared on any film since we were kids, we immediately said yes.”  Having a song as iconic as that for the night’s finale couldn’t have been a better choice. As the encore tunes In My Room and Hold On came on it really felt like a fantastic ending to a night filled with love, dreams coming true, nostalgia, and good ole fan girling!

See more photos from the concert here:

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