Rivermaya’s unexpected reunion concert is a ‘Thank You’ to fans

Nathalie Tomada - The Philippine Star
Rivermaya�s unexpected reunion concert is a �Thank You� to fans
Thirty years after they first formed as a band, the original members of Rivermaya — (clockwise, from top) Nathan Azarcon, Mark Escueta, Bamboo Mañalac and Rico Blanco — are back together for a show that will serve as their ‘Thank You’ to fans who have long waited for this to happen. Presented by Live Nation Philippines, Rivermaya The Reunion concert is happening on Feb. 17 at the SMDC Festival Grounds.

MANILA, Philippines — A Rivermaya reunion concert was once deemed impossible. But 30 years after they first formed as a band, they’re back together for a show that will serve as their “Thank You” to fans who have long waited for this to happen.

During a recent rehearsal that offered select press, including The STAR, a preview of what to expect from Rivermaya the Reunion on Feb. 17 at the SMDC Festival Grounds, the band’s original members — Bamboo Mañalac, Rico Blanco, Mark Escueta, and Nathan Azarcon — also shared how everything came about.

“Live Nation would be the first, they presented to us a show worthy to do this, to bring back together,” Bamboo credited veteran concert promoter Live Nation Philippines for initiating the move to reunite the original members.

“And I say, naiintindihan ko yung fans, I totally get them, how we sort of left things unfinished. This resolves it,” added the band’s main vocalist who exited Rivermaya in 1998.

“This 2024, Feb. 17, brings us back together. This is a form of thank you because they’ve been clamoring for this for years. They’ve been wanting this for years, and somehow, it didn’t happen. And here we are. Merry Christmas!” he said.

Photo courtesy of Live Nation Philippines

Mark, for his part, underscored their appreciation for fans who never stopped hoping to witness the band responsible for such OPM gems as Ulan, 214, Hinahanap Hanap Kita, Elesi, Awit ng Kabataan, reunite on one stage.

“Sobrang thankful kami lalo na sa matagal na nagre-request sa show na ito. It’s been years na talaga and hindi sila napagod sa kakahintay. Thankful kami for that. Excited talaga kami makita sila ulit.”

The drummer said that the band is looking forward to playing before the younger generation of music fans who never got to see them live back in the ‘90s.

“Meron din diyan na never kaming napanood nung ‘90s, pero dahil sa music, lalo na ngayon, dahil sa streaming and technology, recently na-discover yung Rivermaya. Ito yung first time na mapapanood kami ng live. Exciting for them and exciting for us.”

As for Rico, he is equally surprised by the reunion that no one saw coming. He emphasized that over the years, they weren’t opposed to the idea of it, but they simply didn’t know how to make it happen.

According to Rivermaya’s keyboardist/guitarist, vocalist and chief songwriter before departing the band in 2007, “I’m happy that it’s happening. Matagal na ni-re-request. It’s not that ayaw namin. Parang hindi ko alam paano? Like, ‘Paano?’

“So, I guess, you are as surprised as I am that it’s happening. But here we are, it’s happening, so i-enjoy nalang natin. Mangyari siya for some reason — like things falling into place or what. Basta mangyayari siya so let’s enjoy it and don’t miss it.

“If you’re a fan of the music, I would hate for you to miss it because, like, I don’t know when it’s going to happen again. Let’s see each other on Feb. 17,” Rico said.

Meanwhile, when asked about what to expect on concert day, the band members shared their hands-on approach to the show as “musical directors.” They also hinted at giving a new spin to their old hits, drawing from their years of experience in the industry. Expect some themes or stories explaining why they picked certain songs, but they’re keeping other details under wraps.

What’s clear from the band members’ statements is that rehearsals have been hitting all the right notes, so to speak. It seems that jamming together again and revisiting playlists from their early years required fewer adjustments than anticipated.

Rico said, “It’s easier now, we’re mature and we know how to handle artistic suggestions.”

“That’s where experience comes in,” Bamboo said. “We all contribute, we all give our opinions… we all sort of throw into the pot and we try something from the pot. If it works, it works, if not, then not. But it’s an ebb and flow and good energy.”

Besides, Bamboo added, “The blueprints of the songs are there… We know (the music), it’s ingrained, it’s core memory. We know those songs well.

“Ako excited lang ako, getting us back in the studio and sort of seeing all the pieces back together, and how we’ve transformed a few songs and how we’ve changed ourselves, it’s so interesting.”

The press preview marked their nth rehearsal, during which they performed If from their third studio album, Atomic Bomb (1997). Nostalgia and excitement were already evident inside the studio — imagine the atmosphere live!

According to Bamboo, on Feb. 17, “Just expect a lot of joy, a celebration.”

And aside from the fans, he further said that “we’re going to have family in the audience and the crowds. So, it’s a family affair.”

Mark agreed, “That’s true because maraming fans nung ‘90s na nanood sa amin, may kanya-kanya na silang family and isasama nila mga anak nila. Tapos may mga anak pa sila na pangalan, Rivermaya, dahil sa music. It’s a family affair, definitely!”

(Tickets are available via SM Tickets, with prices ranging from VIP at P14,750 to Bronze at P2,550.)

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