A gift of song

Tinnie P. Esguerra (The Philippine Star) - August 5, 2015 - 10:00am

MANILA, Philippines - With the smashing success of his recently-concluded #Hitback concert at the Teatrino last July 24, Dingdong Avanzado still lives up to his rightful title as the reigning Prince of Pinoy Pop.

Despite his brief hiatus from the concert scene, Dingdong left no stone unturned for his fitting comeback, dazzling everyone with his electrifying presence, sheer lung power, and more importantly, a catalog of timeless OPM hits that swept the audience away with wave upon wave of nostalgia and romance.

From the onset, the ‘80s pop superstar showed his true colors. No, this wasn’t just the mild-mannered balladeer who used to dish out sappy bubblegum pop. This was the concert livewire who rocked, grooved and moved with wild abandon, unleashing all his pent-up passion to channel Rico Puno, Mike Hanopol, Gary V, the Eraserheads and all his other OPM idols with just the right panache.

A touching highlight of the show was the participation of his lovely 12-year-old unica hija Jayda, who has lately been gaining notice for her promising singing talent. Father and daughter hammed it up onstage with their witty banter, leaving Dingdong a little misty-eyed as they sang Umagang Kay Ganda while a backdrop photo montage encapsulated Jayda’s transformation from Daddy’s little girl to the blossoming teener she is now.

At one point, Jayda brought the house down with her uncanny impersonation of her mom Jessa Zaragoza by singing her mom’s hit song, Bakit Pa? complete with her distinct throaty warble and hand gestures, prompting Dingdong to tease her, “Na-upstage mo na yata ako, ah?”

Equally moving was Dingdong’s duet with wife Jessa. Looking resplendently regal in her turquoise gown, the Phenomenal Diva was floored with the concert’s turnout and started her spiel with a moving tribute to the celebrant.

After all, this was her gift. And what better birthday gift for Dingdong than the gift of song to rekindle his first love and share it with the people who have long clamored to see him onstage again.

More than being just a timely comeback for Dingdong, #Hitback also proved to be a triumph for the Organisasyon ng Pilipinong Mang-Aawit (OPM) as well. As it turned out, Dingdong’s concert was his own contribution to the week-long festivities meant to commemorate the newly-mandated Linggo ng Musikang Pilipino.

And what better way to show his solid support to the organization than to have no less than OPM VP for External Affairs Noel Cabangon as one of his special guests? Cradling his trusty steel-string acoustic, Noel riffed along as they took turns sharing the verses of Freddie Aguilar’s Estudyante Blues and the old Labuyo favorite, Tuloy Pa Rin Ako.

Unlike most performers who leave their sidemen in the shadows, Dingdong took it upon himself to let his stage cohorts take their share of the spotlight. His back-up band from way back, The Doorbells, not only displayed each member’s instrumental virtuosity; they tickled everyone with their offbeat humor as they traded barbs with their bandleader as well.

Judging from the concert’s turnout, it won’t come as a surprise if the show evolves into an even bigger and more regular concert series featuring the best and brightest proponents of OPM. Already in the works is a repeat slated for Aug. 28 at the Teatrino, but if Jessa’s Phenomenal Entertainment team plays its cards right, expect an entertainment salvo of epic proportion before the yearend.

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