Side A shares stage with their music idols

Nathalie Tomada - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Foreign acts Stephen Bishop, Michael Johnson and Joe Puerta of Ambrosia expressed their sympathies and offered messages of support to the victims of the killer quake that struck Bohol and Cebu and affected neighboring provinces Tuesday morning. 

The visiting American performers, who have had enchanted many a music lover by churning out some of the most memorable sounds of the ’70s and the ‘80s, are in the country for the concert Back 2 Back 2 Back with Side A tonight at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

“I was watching the television. It’s a terrible, awful happening… I’ve been in a couple of earthquakes in L.A. It’s scary — very scary. These unfortunate people who didn’t do so well, it’s really sad,” Stephen said in a presscon at the Midas Hotel last Wednesday.

Michael, on the other hand, recalled that when he first performed in the country, incidentally, the deadly 1990 earthquake happened. “First time I was here was in 1990 during the big earthquake here. I was running the stairs of the hotel, and my wife was petrified. And right afterwards, there was a presscon, and they said, ‘How do you find Manila?’ And I said something like, probably sort of clever, it was a very earth-shaking experience, but the truth of the matter is, it’s a very serious business. It’s (more than a) hundred (who perished) and counting now. It’s very sad.”

Joe said that he was very surprised to arrive to such news. “I just landed this morning from Los Angeles. I didn’t know about the earthquake when I got in Manila because nothing happened here, right? But when I got in my hotel room and turned on CNN, that’s the first thing (that’s shown)…I’m hoping the worst is over because I’ve heard there’s some 800 aftershocks, but yes, our thoughts and prayers go out to all the victims.”

It’s the first time for the three music greats to be together in one stage. Their songs have become huge favorites of Filipinos through the years. Stephen is the singer-songwriter behind such hits as On And On, Something New In My Life, the Academy-nominated movie theme Separate Lives from White Nights and It Might Be You from the film soundtrack of Tootsie.

Michael is best known for Bluer Than Blue (which also inspired a Regine Velasquez cover), I’ll Always Love You, Give Me Wing, This Night Won’t Last Forever and Almost Like Being In Love.

Joe is the bassist/vocalist and co-founder of the rock group Ambrosia, whose popular tunes include Holding On To Yesterday, How Much I Feel, Biggest Part of Me, You’re The Only Woman and I Just Can’t Let Go. He is also credited for forming Bruce Hornsby and the Range. 

In tonight’s concert, “Filipinos will be hearing the hits,” promised Stephen, who’s a regular visitor having been here nine times already.

Asked on what he likes about staging shows in the Philippines, Michael said, “I like the people, I really do. Very romantic! I was raised Catholic and so, you know… And I studied classical guitar in Spain so I know about Latin culture a little bit and that’s what goes on here (because of Spanish influence).”

They added that while they’ve never worked with each other, they have mutual friend-musicians like John Ford Coley, Dan Hill, David Pomeranz and Jimi Jamison “that all say how wonderful it is to be in the Philippines and how great Filipino audiences are.”

For the guys of Side A — Joey Generoso, Naldy Gonzales, Ernie Severino, Lee Von Cailao and Ned Esguerra — they couldn’t be more proud to share the stage with their musical idols. 

They revealed that when they were starting out and not yet recording their own songs, the music of Stephen, Michael and Joe became the repertoire of their gigs.

“It’s great to be working with our idols. Their music has influenced our music a lot,” said Joey.

“We were playing their songs when we weren’t playing originals yet. So, we thank these guys, if not for them and their music, we wouldn’t be working now as musicians, playing our own songs,” Ernie added.

Since releasing its self-titled debut album in 1989, Side A has become one of the country’s biggest-selling, award-winning and enduring bands with big romantic hits like Hold On, Tuloy Pa Rin Ako, Aawitin Ko Na Lang, Tell Me, So Many Questions, By Your Side and Forevermore.

Expect Side A and its idols to do a joint show-stopping number tonight in Back 2 Back 2 Back. Tickets are now available at Ticketnet 911-5555 and Viva Concerts 687-7236. Ticket prices are Patron A P3,500; Patron B P3,000; Lower Box P3,000; Upper Box A P1,750; Upper Box B P750 and General Admission P400. They will also bring the concert to the University of Southern Philippines in Davao City on Oct. 26., while Stephen will have a solo show at the Lagao Gym in General Santos on Oct. 27. Back 2 Back 2 Back is a Viva Live, Inc. and Redstone Music production.


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