Concert review The Sarah G experience
Patricia Esteves (The Philippine Star) - December 3, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - On her 10th anniversary concert dubbed Perfect 10, Sarah Geronimo raised the bar in concert performance, displaying the same winning form she did in Star in a Million, where she was hailed as the grand champion in 2003.

Unlike her previous concerts which showcased typical Beyoncé-like song-and-dance numbers, Sarah’s performance in Perfect 10 was grand, more mature and personal.

For this concert, Sarah bared her all and I don’t mean her clothes. Sarah is still the wholesome, good girl we knew from 10 years ago — an image she managed to maintain and cultivate since starting in the business when she was 15 years old. Not given to wearing mini-skirts or skimpy shorts, the maximum Sarah bared that evening was her shoulders. Her costumes were long princess gowns and shimmering pants-and-blouse ensembles.

But what she bared that night was her feelings and thoughts for the moment, including her insecurities, imperfections and how she thinks that she’s not beautiful enough.

“No one is perfect and we should accept the fact that no one is perfect, only God is perfect. I’ve been through a lot of challenges and hardships but God took care of me. I’ve committed mistakes in my life. My voice is sometimes not in good condition and a lot of times, I hit flat notes but I thank you because you still stay and support me,” Sarah told the audience.

To let the audience see the “real” Sarah, the pop star carefully chose songs that would best reflect her state of heart and mind.

In every song that she performed, Sarah urged the audience “to hear me out.”

“Gusto ko po sana maglabas ng saloobin ko (I want to express what I feel inside),” Sarah told her audience.

That Sarah chose her own songs worked to her advantage because she was able to deliver heartfelt, soulful renditions. Because every song is meaningful and personal to her, Sarah was able to connect with the audience and display the right emotion. This was what made Sarah’s concert truly memorable for those who watched her last Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

One of her best performances that evening was her rendition of Radiohead’s Creep which Sarah surprisingly described  as the “song that best describes me.”

Set in a haunting piano riff, Sarah rendered the song in the most unglamorous way, sitting slumped on the stairs on stage, her curly hair covering her face.

“You’re so very special, I wish I was special, but I’m a creep, I’m a weirdo, what the hell am I doing here, I don’t belong here...” Sarah crooned before launching into a growl and then hitting the high notes.

Creep left her fans wondering about her heart’s current state. Rumored boyfriend Matteo Guidicelli was not around; he was not acknowledged when Sarah was thanking the celebrities who graced that evening’s concert. Sarah has had failed relationships with Rayver Cruz and Gerald Anderson, and people are curious if these caused insecurities or feelings of inadequacy? Well, only Sarah knows.

As for feeling beautiful, Sarah thanked her make-up artists for doing wonders to her face and ribbed the crowd: “Pasensya na kayo ganito lang ang nagawa nila.”

That Sarah was open about her limitations endeared her more to the audience and to a battalion of her loyal fans who call themselves Popsters. Sarah, despite her fame and success, is one of the most grounded showbiz people around.

Perfect 10 at MOA is the second in Sarah’s three-part anniversary concert series. The first one was held at the Araneta Coliseum to a jampacked crowd. The third and last one will be held at the Waterfront Hotel in Cebu on Dec. 7.

What was commendable about Sarah’s concert was that she sang OPM songs, mostly from her current album.

Her rendition of her very own song Ikot-Ikot was splendid. Sarah twitched and twisted her body as if in a trance, going with the beat of the song to deliver an emotionally-wrenching ditty about a destructive love affair.

She also sang Sweetest Mistake and Eyes on Fire, wherein she told the crowd to pay particular attention to the lyrics of the song.

Eyes on Fire was composed by Franco Tantay, the son of veteran actor Al Tantay. Sarah said she could fully relate to the lyrics. “It’s time to let him go,” the Pop Star crooned.

Turning nostalgic this time, Sarah also sang songs that won for her in Star in a Million like Celine Dion’s To Love You More and It’s All Coming Back. With these songs, Sarah proved that she’s a top diva, in the league of Regine Velasquez and Lani Misalucha.

Covers of Shirley Bassey’s This is My Life and the Greatest Performance of My Life proved that Sarah’s voice is still in fine form.

With these songs, Sarah held no high notes back, as if she’s competing in an Olympic vocal competition.

After singing a heartfelt This is My Life, Sarah, vented out a rare display of frustration and said, “Buhay ko ito, buhay ko ito...”

After her solos, she then presented her guests, who are basically the people closest to her heart — her friends in the business.

First off, she called her protégés Morisette and Clarisse from The Voice of the Philippines, where Sarah was one of the mentors, along with Lea Salonga, and Bamboo Mañalac.

“I feel inspired whenever I hear them sing,” she said as they launched into Rihanna’s Diamonds in the Sky.

Sarah then had a number with Regine and Rachelle Anne Go where they did a mash-up of Barbra Streisand’s hits People, Papa Can You Hear Me, Tell Me and Someday. What was anticipated to be a musical spectacle given the credentials of the three divas turned out to be a birit contest. A young child seated across me could not help but cover her ears.

But Regine and Sarah’s number, a cover of Bruno Mars’ It Will Rain was lovely.

And Sarah and Rachelle’s medley of Broadway hits was touching. Unknown to many, Rachelle is Sarah’s best friend and Sarah bragged about Rachelle’s achievement in clinching the role of Gigi in the revival production of Miss Saigon next year in London.

Meantime, Sarah acknowledged Regine as the “first music icon who made me realize that you can achieve your dreams but you have to work hard to get it.”

Regine and Sarah’s friendship goes way back to Star in a Million where Regine was the host.

Sarah sang with more friends, this time with Jimmy Marquez, Christian Bautista and Erik Santos who were products of singing competitions as well.

The trio gave the audience an idea of how Sarah is outside showbiz.

“She is quite slow in dressing up. She also commits mistakes in choosing guys she will love, but I admire her because for every heartache, she comes stronger and she’s able to manage it. No matter her flaws, Sarah is a great friend,” Jimmy said.

“What is nice about her is that she finds time to go out with us for a dinner but always with her parents; it’s to our advantage because Mommy Divine has already paid our bill,” Christian said to the laughter of the crowd.

Sarah then joined the three and sang Bruno Mars’ Treasures.

Then it was time for her solos again and here Sarah was at her best, worthy of being called a world-class talent who has every right to make it big in the international arena.

A commendable performance was her rendition of Basil Valdez’s Sino Ang Tunay Na Baliw, where she sang with her four year-old self. High above her, over the large video screen was a young Sarah already belting the OPM classic to hundreds of people attending a prayer rally. That she interspersed her own rendition with an image of her young self was pure genius.

One of the highlights, too, of her concert was singing for the first time, the very first song that she composed. With the help of her musical director Louie Ocampo who did the musical arrangement, Sarah wrote a gospel song Make Me Yours about her love and gratitude to God.

Lastly, let’s talk about the stage design. Usually, a singer like Sarah does not need mind-blasting special effects, fire bursts, fireworks or laser lights to enhance her performance. Just her soaring, lovely voice is enough. But in keeping up with the modern times, and truly, this was a proud moment for Philippine concert scene, the stage design was fantastic and the strobe lights were sublime. There were fireworks, too, and fire bursts and confetti.

Sarah’s concert proved that we can level up with the Koreans and the foreign artists who bring in their state-of-the-art special effects and lighting during shows here.

Sarah singing Ikot-Ikot while bathed in the soft glow of the strobe lights was sublime.

For her last song, she sang Forever’s Not Enough, her very first hit. Vehnee Saturno, who composed the song was in the audience taking a video. For her encore, Sarah did a dance number, a remix of Beyoncé, Michael Jackson and Lady Gaga hits. Here, Sarah showed that she can dance, backed by the G-Force.

It was unfortunate that Sarah didn’t display much of her dancing skills but in the future we want to see her dance more.

Sarah is this truly this generation’s Sharon Cuneta, the total package and deserving to be called a pop star.

Regine puts it aptly when she shared an anecdote of Sarah during her newbie days and how she saw Sarah as a star way back then.

“Ten years ago, it was the finals of Star in a Million at the Ultra, and I was at the backstage and I was changing my clothes when I saw Sarah in a beaded Rajo Laurel gown and I said to myself, ‘Wow, we have a winner, I knew it.’ It was Sarah’s aura that says a star was born. Ten years after, Sarah is now a superstar,” Regine told the audience.

Sarah simply smiled and told her fans: “Sana po, maka-10 years pa po ako ulit sa showbiz, maraming salamat po at dahil sa inyo nagkaroon kami ng magandang buhay ng pamilya ko.”

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