Concert Review: The song Martin Nievera wants to be remembered for

Yugel Losorata - The Philippine Star
Concert Review: The song Martin Nievera wants to be remembered for

Martin Nievera was ringing through, his voice ever-strong and distinctive during his dinner charity concert

MANILA, Philippines — A heavy downpour was engulfing the city that Saturday night while Martin Nievera performed inside the Metrotent Convention Center (in Metrowalk, Pasig) for his scheduled dinner-charity concert. His voice was ringing through, ever-strong, distinctive and certainly not the one causing the non-stop rain.

“If there’s one song I want to be remembered for, this is it,” spieled the Concert King, before he tackled the now-classic You Are My Song. 

One of the most familiar figures in OPM was not hinting at retirement, he was only indirectly telling the packed venue of round tables that he has been in the industry long and storied enough to be eventually asked that question of what’s that one song that he feels defines his career run. 

To people who witnessed Martin’s rise to stardom, that song must be something called Be My Lady, a breakthrough piece written by Vehnee Saturno and which he now often tells crowds to “move on” from. That night, he went down to the audience and handed his microphone to a guy to sing the melody. It turned out the one he picked up couldn’t carry a tune. By the time he realized it, Martin began rapping impromptu and moving like a hip-hop dude. 

“Can we call a doctor? I think he swallowed something,” he mused, referencing the guy’s incapacity to at least keep up with Be My Lady’s hard-to-forget melody lines. 

That’s what usually happens in a Martin Nievera show. You see him fool around, almost always with proper punchlines. Then he serenades you with some of the most dramatic ballads in OPM, some of them he actually popularized. 

Observing the crowd of well-dressed spectators, who came in as romantic dates and fun families, you could see them still in awe seeing Martin perform in front of them, as if they haven’t seen him on the telly. No one seemed to be worried about the continuous rain as seen through the venue’s closed, transparent windows. They’d rather listen to the rhythm of the featured act of the house: His singing that comes with the right, emphasized-from-within facial expressions, his demeanor that has made him a class act since. 

The dinner-show last Aug. 19, dubbed Big Mouth, Big Heart, Big Night, was produced by Anthony and Rossel Taberna through their Outbox Media Powerhouse Corp. It was for the benefit of the katutubong Dumagat from Sitio Apia Barangay Calawis, Antipolo City. Ka Tunying’s involvement even more stressed the power of celebrity used properly. 

At the presscon prior to the show, Martin expressed doing this charity spectacle like a calling. He was quoted as saying, “It’s more of something that more singers should start doing. Giving is more rewarding than earning so I see myself doing more of this. It makes me feel that there’s substance with what I’m doing.”

For his well-prepared repertoire and the charm that sets him apart from most male singers, Martin is one of substance, wherever the venue, whatever the reason for making a show. He’s making use of his big, talkative mouth to tell the beating of his heart. It’s a beating that fast-talks with sense and sings with careful approach. That night, he showed he’s called a Concert King because he really knows how to keep the audience entertained, whether through upbeat or slow song. 

When guest KZ Tandingan performed with him, he picked a song from his generation, U2’s With Or Without You, to complement KZ’s current hit of a cover. He quipped that KZ and the other guest, Kakai Bautista of Rak Of Aegis fame, are both petite, performing in a show that emphasized being big. And then gave deserving praises for the two that made everyone quickly understand the beautiful irony. 

Martin and his band cleverly put together love songs with the word Ikaw in the title and dedicated it to everyone. In his encore before singing the classic What A Wonderful World, he told everyone, “For all the hatred, anger, it’s hard to believe that we can still make this a wonderful world. Do that for me when you leave tonight, make this a wonderful world.” 

That power to provide hope is a key to Martin’s longevity. The pouring rain complemented the shock brought by a drug war-related crime story that captured people’s attention and somehow divided the nation. His voice alone neutralized the negativity in the minds of those who were watching; the way he delivered that line was like the way he interprets a good composition: Caressing and cutting through.

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