US fans fall in love with Martin & Pops all over again

Edmund Silvestre - The Philippine Star
US fans fall in love with Martin & Pops all over again
Martin Nievera and Pops Fernandez, the Philippines’ Concert King and Queen, enthralled us nonstop with nostalgia-heavy pop hits (solos and duets) and left us in stitches with plenty of jokes surrounding their stormy marriage.

ATLANTIC CITY, New Jersey — When Martin Nievera and Pops Fernandez took the stage to the tunes of Janet Jackson’s Together Again and Rick Astley’s Together Forever, they quickly built rapport with the ecstatic audience at the large Ovation Hall of Ocean Casino Resort and held them spellbound for the next two hours and a half.

The Philippines’ Concert King and Queen enthralled us nonstop with nostalgia-heavy pop hits (solos and duets) and left us in stitches with plenty of jokes surrounding their stormy marriage.

It’s safe to declare the tandem’s magical appeal is intact more than three decades later.

After the opening songs, Martin cracked the first joke about his and Pops’ failed marriage. “I know many of you here will play in the casino after the show and take a gamble, just like you Pops, you took a gamble some years ago.”

Pops rolled her eyes with a reply that drew laughter: “We must be thankful many people who are here tonight have not moved on, or we would have no audience.”

The iconic couple segued to a medley of popular covers from the 1980s — Reunited, Ocean Deep, Always, Don’t Know What To Say, You and Tell Me, with the eager audience jamming with them, accompanied by topnotch musicians led by musical director Lorrie Ilustre.

Martin’s solo set focused on his favorite cuts beginning with the catchy Footloose. It was followed by his moving and much-applauded ballads Forever, Ikaw Lang Ang Mamahalin, Kahit Isang Saglit and Ikaw, which he dedicated to Pops. As always, Martin soared with his still incredible vocal range, emotive power and commanding stage presence.

Presenting Pops for her solo set, Martin hailed his ex-wife as a good person, saying, “If Pops were an Avenger, her superpower is forgiveness. Ladies and gentlemen, the woman who practically raised our two kids all by herself.”

Pops reappeared in a radiant outfit (she made four changes) with the catchy ‘80s hits Radio, Heaven Knows and Last Dance. Though it wasn’t a flashy production number, Pops used to do in her younger days at the ULTRA or Araneta, it was rousing enough to bring back the feel of the era when she was likened to Janet Jackson or Madonna strutting on stage and showing her groove with a group of dancers.

She followed up her perky set with a heartwarming duet with her singer-songwriter son, Robin Nievera. The mother and son beautifully sang one of Pops’ signature OPM classics, Don’t Say Goodbye, before Robin went solo with one of his original works that displayed his strong vocals and impressive guitar skills.

Robin then joined his dad and both were remarkable with the Righteous Brothers’ Unchained Melody and Ed Sheeran’s Perfect, two great songs from different generations that sound so much alike.

Soon afterwards, Martin and Pops rolled through the Oscar-winning song Shallow that became one of the evening’s highlights. The powerhouse couple’s dazzling number clearly showed why they’re bonafide showbiz royalties. The Lady Gaga-Bradley Cooper track even highlighted Pops’ much-improved vocals — richer, fuller and yes, flawless. Thanks to her English voice coach Zoe Tyler, who helped make Pops sound as if she’s just hit her prime as a singer.

A string of ‘80s timeless love songs that cemented Martin and Pops’ status as pop superstars followed. The crowd felt nostalgic and joined the couple as they did a medley of Somewhere Down The Road, With You I’m Born Again, Tonight I Celebrate My Love For You, Perfect Combination, Almost Paradise, How Do You Keep The Music Playing, Honesty and You and I.

Martin then went solo again with a medley of his No. 1 hits — No Way To Treat A Heart, Pain, Be My Lady and Say That You Love Me, with the last two receiving the loudest cheers.

Pops, meanwhile, brought the crowd to their feet once again with a medley of jumpy hits by ‘80s pop queens Cindy Lauper, Whitney Houston and Madonna, plus Laura Branigan’s Telephone and Gloria.

The fast-paced show ended on a high note with the gleeful Time of My Life plus an encore, Pagdating ng Panahon, the Aiza (now Ice) Seguerra song that gives hope to someone waiting to be loved at the right time by the person he or she adores. This only gave the couple’s die-hard fans something to hold on to in the belief that Martin and Pops will still end up in each other’s arms when the right times comes.

Lemar International, the producers behind the show’s New Jersey leg composed of doctors Ramon and Ching Legarda of Group Ole, and Red and Alice Martinez of Re-al Entertainment, deserve to give themselves a huge pat on their backs for bringing another first-rate entertainment for Filipinos in North America.





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