Freeman Cebu Entertainment

Sarah, Martin carry on the love fest

- Vanessa Balbuena -

CEBU, Philippines - It need not be Valentine's season to get people in the mood for a concert of past and present love songs, sprinkled with a dose of cliché spiels on the various phases of this enigma otherwise known as love. It only takes a fine performing tandem such as that of the Concert King and the Pop Princess to compel us to reminisce, relish and reflect on ‘What Love Is’ (or was) for us --- he, with his unmatched wit and soulful ballads; she, with her bouncy moves and heartfelt renditions.

Conceptualized as a pre-Valentine concert, Sarah Geronimo and Martin Nievera’s collaboration saw a sold-out and positively reviewed show at the Araneta Coliseum back in February. So strong must have been the clamor from fans to let them experience ‘What Love Is’ in their provinces, that the one-night event was turned into a Philippine tour by Viva Entertainment, the Cebu leg of which was held July 15th at a jam-packed Waterfront Hotel ballroom in Lahug.

Anticipation and emotions were high at the then Manila concert as all eyes and ears were on Sarah. She was, at that time, in the middle of a much-publicized love triangle with fellow network stars, her tell-all of that so-called first real heartbreak published on an entertainment magazine the following month. So her every spiel and song choice, every crack in her voice and noticeable mist in her eyes held an understood meaning for her sympathizing audience --- making the concert more of a telling glimpse into the singer’s inner self, beyond being another show riding on the worldwide hallmark occasion being celebrated.

That was months ago and the issue has since been put to rest, so when we heard ‘What Love Is’ was coming here in Cebu in July, we wondered if a now-recovered Sarah would still render Sheena Easton’s Almost Over You and Irene Cara's Out Here on My Own with as much soul and power we read she did in Araneta. We were also unsure if the love-themed event would still be relevant outside of the love month. But as Sarah and Martin would together prove, love is a year-round celebration after all, with its definition evolving for some as time passes and experience teaches.

A VTR signaled the show’s start, revealing ordinary people and celebrities who were interviewed on their definition of love. The responses varied from profound to funny. Towards the end of the video, a giggling Sarah remarked, "True love waits…" while Martin pronounced, “You don’t find true love, true love finds you.”

To everyone’s surprise, Martin emerged from the back of the crowd singing the Beatles' All You Need is Love, while Sarah later on appeared on stage with her version of Black Eyed Peas' Where Is The Love? The top-notch performers then united on stage to greet the Cebu crowd.

They followed it up with top karaoke pieces—Diana Ross and Lionel Richie's Endless Love, The Carpenters' You, Basil Valdez's Ngayon at Kailanman, Sharon Cuneta's Maging Sino Ka Man, Barry Manilow's Somewhere Down The Road, and Joey Albert's Tell Me—which had the entire ballroom singing along with the duo.

Showing why he is still the undisputed Philippine Concert King, Martin performed his intense hits including Be My Lady and Kahit Isang Saglit, but also got with the times and displayed versatility by doing Bruno Mars’ Billionaire, Nothin’ On You, Grenade and Just The Way You Are (jesting that Vicki Belo hated this song after singing the lines “Coz you’re amazing just the way you are…”) and a stripped-down version of Justin Bieber’s Baby, Baby.

What’s a Martin show without his signature humor? The singer poked fun at his and Sarah’s generation gap, at the same time thanking her for giving him a new fan base in her loyal Popsters. As a tradition, Martin at one point asked who among the couples that evening were celebrating some sort of anniversary so he could serenade them. When no arms shot up, he said in mock frustration, “Oh I forgot the age difference. Who among you here is celebrating puberty?” Drawing even louder laughter was when he compared his fans to that of Sarah’s: “Her fans have braces. My fans have no teeth anymore.” He added an anecdote of an elderly fan whose dentures flew out after shrieking in excitement upon seeing him, and everyone was in stitches.

Sarah’s solo turn had her grooving to pop tunes Whip My Hair, Somebody to Love, Firework and Only Girl, with the G-Force dancers backing her up. When it was time to go sentimental, the Recordbreaker was at her best. With scenes from her blockbuster flicks with John Lloyd Cruz flashing in the background, Sarah reappeared in another gown and read her spiel: “If it's not meant to be, one has to let go and move on. Dahil kapag nakapag-move on ka na, only then will true love find its way to your heart."

This is where she segues into the anthems Almost Over You and Out Here on My Own, providing the most stirring moment of the evening with her moving rendition of the said classics. And as if to say that yes, she has indeed moved on, Sarah introduced the carrier single Sino Nga Ba Siya? from her latest album titled One Heart with this spiel: “Hindi naman natin maipagkakaila na tayong mga single naitatanong natin, kailan kaya siya darating sa buhay ko? At kung meron mang dumating, siya na nga ba? Pero kapag nagkahiwalay kayo at sobra kang nasaktan, itatanong mo naman sa kanya, Sino Nga Ba Siya?”

For the finale, Sarah and Martin had an exchange of their respective hits. In their repertoire were Say That You Love Me, How Could You Say You Love Me, You Are My Song, Forever, Forever Is Not Enough and To Love You More. That earned appreciative applause for both artists and their musical director extraordinaire Louie Ocampo. Cebu City Mayor Mike Rama then took to the stage to present Sarah with a bouquet of flowers.

But fans didn’t want to say goodbye just yet. The G-Force dancers returned for the encore, as Sarah and Martin sang and danced along to a VST & Company medley of Rock Baby Rock and Tayo'y Magsayawan to cap a fun, worthwhile evening.











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