Twenty seven years later, I finally attended my first concert by a foreign artist, David Pomeranz and it was nostalgically exhilarating for someone like me who had his last valentine date 23 years ago.
This year, my valentine's date with four of my closest female friends went as I envisioned it in my previous blogpost which won me concert tickets and a complimentary dinner at Grab-a-Crab.
We had an early dinner at Grab-a-Crab and enjoyed the generous spread of Grab-a-Crab rice, calamares, minced meat with crunchy sotanghon noodles (Jinky was right, this was really delicious!), sauteed three kinds mushrooms and pata tim. The restaurant was filled with valentine customers and the waiters had their hands full. So full, that we had to remind them to give us the promised valentine's give-away.
So, we went up to the upper box and chose seats near the stage. But to out dismay, we couldn't understand anything from the two hosting the pre-concert quiz show-game. So we changed seats near the end of the gym facing the concert stage to hear better.
I noticed many of the upper box audience are teeners (I guessed many of them won their tickets from a local FM radio station). Many of them perked up when David sang his pop songs, but were noisy and boisterous in some unfamiliar numbers. Someone even had the gall to shout "David Garcia Jr!" (shared name of two male leads in a local TV soap opera) while David was singing.
When David sang excerpts from his musicals (in which he sang different parts), I was one of the handful in the audience who appreciated it. I just love musicals, that's why. The rest (who I surmise were raised on fads and trends and riddled with pop culture) couldn't care less.
At one point in the program, David jokingly bade the audience goodbye/goodnight because he wasn't getting the reaction he wanted. Many of his in-between-songs spiels went unappreciated because the audience was clueless about what he was talking about. He even had to impersonate Charlie Chaplin (from whose life David based his musical Little Tramp) before the audience understood what he meant (although some probably thought it was Dolphy or Mr. Bean. Hahaha!). I could sense his frustration because the Generals are not that exposed to anything beyond pop culture. Even the songs he composed (Trying to get the feeling again, The old songs) but popularized by Barry Manilow and The Carpenters were less applauded compared to the songs he composed and sang (King & Queen of Hearts, Got to believe in magic, On this day, Born for you). As an encore, David sang his version of Joey Albert's original Tell me, which again went unnoticed because most were eager to go home. Going down after the concert, I wondered if anybody else knew David had recorded his own version of Pasko na Sinta Ko.
I sighed with the realization that a lot of David's immense talents and artistry as a tunesmith and singer were lost to most of the Gensan audience. His repertoire fairly represented his impressive works, yet we were willing only to acknowledge his pop songs (I say, there are a lot more to love about David than his love songs). I gave out an even deeper sigh at what the others in the audience were missing by dwelling on what is pop, faddish and trendy (if concerts featured only an artist's pop songs, why not listen to an FM station instead?). All they cared about was rushing to the stage with their cellphones and cameras to get Dave's pictures and lining up to get autographs or a photo opportunity with him backstage (for bragging rights to say they went to a David Pomeranz's concert? And after the autographs have faded, the pictures deleted to make for new ones, what?).
At the risk of being accused as sourgraping, let me state this clearly: I came away from the concert awed by and respectful of David, the artist, the singer and composer who has touched my life with his compositions, pop or not. A heartfelt thanks to David for giving us the best valentine's date at this point in our (I and my dates) lives.
[Update: I heard from a very reliable source that another artist who had a valentine show in another venue was disappointed by the audience reaction. Classically trained, his compositions, mostly instrumental, which he played went largely unappreciated by the pop-culture-drenched crowd. The audience was noisy (egging him to sing, heckling him, shouting their pop song requests). The artist conceded by playing one Beatles song to which the audience sang along. But that's about it. The rest of his repertoire was ignored.
(Thanks to Kyawster for the concert photos)