By Kristhine Gestano
Williamstown Town Hall was packed that 23rd February but it provided a welcome relief to anyone wanting to shake off the remnants of the work week. One could tell outright that the crowd was eager for some great entertainment. And why wouldn’t they be when two of the best singers in the Philippines were holding court to paint the perfect backdrop for a post-Valentine celebration or a great kick-off to the weekend.
Nina, always in a league of her own, was the first to take centre stage on that evening headlined by her and Joey G and proudly presented by E-talent International. The 37- year-old performer appeared ageless and her singing just as flawless, no different to the Nina I saw perform a decade ago, during the height of her career. In fact, she has become more and more comfortable in her own skin.
Nina, who popularised the songs Loving You and Someday and revived Through the Fire, I Love You Goodbye and Love Moves in Mysterious Ways did not waver even once. Her singing was like a roller coaster ride, taking the audience to the high notes and low and punctuating it with humour and sultriness.
Joey is a different story. While Nina made a name as a solo act, the 53-year-old singer shot to fame when he frontlined the band, Side A. Songs like Forevermore, Set You Free and Hold On became commercial hits in the 90s with Joey’s voice giving life to them. The band performed in Melbourne two years ago in what became as one of their last concerts overseas with Joey as vocalist.
Joey opened his act strong, joining Nina for a duet of Sergio Mendes’s What Do We Mean to Each Other. This was followed with Foolish Heart, which showcased Joey’s guitar playing skills. He then took over, armed with a collection of his favourite songs. Not long after, the audience insisted hearing one of Side A’s hits to which Joey was hesitant. He finally sang Forevermore when the audience was about to quit after giving chase. This left them very amused by the quiet Joey who most fans know as a no-spiels guy.
Their pianist James, who sings like Gary Valenciano, was a revelation. The somber bloke suddenly turned into a very entertaining performer who could give stand-up comedians a run for their money. And because of this, the crowd clamoured for more.
At times, Joey could be sensed struggling to find his own brand despite the fact that he’s already known. He returned to cover Bruno Mars, which got the audience dancing but it seemed like the show was abruptly concluded when Joey said his goodbyes while being swamped by fans. Both artists re-appeared on stage to join Annabelle Borja, producer of the show.
The bottom line was it was a great night. That Friday, which could have just welcomed another weekend, left a lot of people humming and smiling their way to another grueling week and some other, thanking Joey and Nina for the perfect Post-Valentine celebration.