Saturday, October 20, 2007

JOSH GROBAN IN MANILA-Oct 18, 2007 part 1

Oct 18, 2007 was an unforgettable night for me and the rest of the Grobanites present in the last night of his 2-day stay here in Manila. I knew of this concert as early as late August and was excited to get myself the best tickets. However, tickets turned out to be amazingly expensive and was hard to procure early on, as the great seats were not released yet.

Offers of tickets bundled into Smart Infinity subscriptions and Nokia headsets were Smart, the lead sponsor for the concert of the year, way of promoting the handsome baritone's first ever concert in Manila at the PICC Plenary Hall. RADO, another sponsor, offered tickets upon purchase of their watches. October 17, the gala night, was invitation-only. It was commercialism and elitism at its best, and only in the Philippines. Truly someone of Josh Groban's caliber deserves this?

Not exactly. Josh Groban isn't a tenor wannabe who wants to belt out Nessun Dorma while in a suit. While he can do that and wants to do that once in a while too, he also wants to be known as HIMSELF. Groban, over the years, has stepped out of the shadow of Andrea Bocelli and has since stepped into creating his own unique sound. His 2nd cd, Closer, with tracks like Remember When It Rained and Never Let Go was an introduction to his inclination towards edgier world music and a glimpse into his creative side. His first world tour for Closer, which was supposed to include Philippines but was later taken out, witnessed his energetic nature, witty sense of humor and rapport with the audience. His concerts throughout the UNITED STATES and EUROPE were critically acclaimed and jam packed. It was attended by everybody, young and old, rich or poor.

The AWAKE cd, showcased more of Groban's talent as a songwriter, his compassionate heart, and his true side as a musician with eclectic tastes, with collaboration with personalities like Imogen Heap, Jon Andrasik from Five for Fighting and Dave Matthews. His 2nd world tour, just like his first tour, was also just as well attended and well acclaimed, in fact, there were more accolades and praises for the AWAKE tour than in Closer.

Somehow, Josh Groban, while in the Philippines at least, was marketed as chi-chi and exclusive, and the country never updated itself and evolved in its awareness of Groban's music. This was something that someone like me, an ardent admirer and follower of his music for six years, couldn't comprehend. As someone who also frequents his official message board, I have been friends with other Grobanites from around the globe, who would truly attest to Josh's growth and versatility as a singer and composer of the best caliber. He was someone who we would universally agree that has class, yet very attainable and whose music is very easy to like. I have witnessed this growth myself through his tour DVDs, his concert shows from the BBC Radio 1, and through Youtube, and I was excited to see this for myself in the Philippines.

Yet, the Philippines' first taste of him will be at the PICC Plenary Hall, with tickets that are exorbitantly high. However, much as I hated this turn of events, I continue to remain positive about it, and asking people to stop complaining and start being thankful for the fact that the Philippines is his only Asian stopover, not to mention his last stop, at that for the tour. Encourage others that maybe, somehow we would be able to get ourselves tickets for the show.

Enthusiasm was high as the days leading to his arrival progressed, and people are now getting inspired to support Josh despite the high prices. Some people got lucky and scored free tickets, others got a windfall of money and can all of a sudden afford a ticket or two. However, a couple of weeks leading to the concert, I was faced by my own demons and financial situation. I, who rallied everyone to watch this once in a lifetime event for the Filipino Grobanites, now faced despair at not having scored tickets. I thought the universe was conspiring against me as I set out in vain to get the seats that I wanted. I grew disappointed as lousy seats were displayed after lousy seats online.

Yet as I encouraged them, they encouraged me. Grobanites from the official message board gave me tips of how to get tickets the last minute, as sellers are known to hold them and release them the VERY last minute. It was a test of willpower and persistence for me, and the days leading to the night of the concert was a huge roller coaster of emotions for me, as on the afternoon before the 17th, his gala concert, I finally got myself off my depression and went to book seats online. As luck would have it, the website CRASHED.

I was devastated again, but this time I did not want to let this rule me, for over the days I felt depressed were heaviest days of my life emotionally. There also was this nagging feeling that I have to do something. So I did. The night of the concert, I went to a ticket booth in National Bookstore at the Mall of Asia and asked if there were tickets for the 18th.

There was no tickets left for the 18th, according to the lady behind the counter, but there were seats for tonight, the 17th. How could I, wearing a t-shirt, jeans and Havaianas, would ever go to a Gala night? So no concert that night, but I wasn't discouraged. All I thought was that, somehow, there would be tickets.

My father told me to try at the PICC itself on the last night, and on that night, there was serendipity. Despite coming from a long way, traffic was so bearable on that busy Thursday night, it was a miracle. Next, while minutes away from PICC, a Grobanite friend called me and told me that there are still tickets left, and if she should reserve them for me. Of course!

It was elating to finally be in the venue, walking towards the ticket booth to meet my friend, and paying for the tickets, and holding the actual tickets into my hands. I had butterflies in my stomach as I walked upstairs the balcony, and the cold venue made my knees shiver some more.
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