Cory, Imelda catch Groban concert

PEOPLE - Joanne Rae M. Ramirez -

Music unites people and melts differences, even for just two hours.

It took world-renowned singer Josh Groban to make former President Corazon Aquino attend a concert – her first. It brought her under the same roof as avid concert-goer former First Lady Imelda Marcos, whose husband Ferdinand’s regime was toppled by a bloodless revolution led by Mrs. Aquino 21 years ago.

“For a first timer like me, I was very impressed. I really had such a nice time,” said Mrs. Aquino when approached by The STAR after the concert at the Philippine International Convention Center, which had the well-heeled audience swaying, swinging and swooning.

The concert also drew raves from Mrs. Marcos, an aspiring singer before she became a political wife. She told The STAR she found Groban’s concert “fantastic,” adding she found the 26-year-old former California choirboy to be “all-around, even if he is so young.” She was seen merrily twirling the blue light stick distributed by Smart Infinity, the show’s major sponsor, during the concert.

Mrs. Aquino and Mrs. Marcos were seated on different levels of the PICC Plenary Hall.

Groban, whose rich baritone has been described by audiences worldwide as “deliciously flawless,” was in Manila for his first and only Asian concert. Moved by the response of the light stick-waving crowd that erupted in applause with his every hit, Groban announced in mid-concert: “I’m coming back to Manila!”

His manager, Brian Avnet, told Francis Lumen, who was responsible for bringing Groban to Manila, “Josh was so moved!”

Sources said he wants his next concert to be a benefit show at the Araneta Coliseum, so it would be more affordable for his fans. Tickets to the PICC concert ranged from P5,000 to P25,000.

Apparently, Groban had expected the crowd “to be very corporate and stiff.”

Avnet said Groban was pleasantly surprised to see “even CEOs twirling their light sticks!”

A highlight of the show was the participation of Lani Misalucha, who flew in from Las Vegas to sing “The Prayer” with Groban. Misalucha held her own in her first ever-duet with Groban, who had said he would only consent to a duet in his Manila concert if it was with Misalucha.

Groban’s most applauded numbers included his opening song, You Are Loved, A Time for Us (from Dr. Zhivago), She’s Out of My Life, The Prayer, Broken Vow, Awake and his most popular encore, You Raise Me Up. He returned onstage for three encores, although he was reportedly prepared for only two.

Groban, who spent his first night in Manila checking out the night scene at the Embassy at the Fort, was dressed for most of the show in denims and a sports jacket. He started the show just before 8:30 p.m., when several of the VIP guests were still trickling in even as Groban was already singing.

President Arroyo, who reportedly collects Josh Groban CDs, was originally expected at the show, but cancelled at the last minute due to official business in Camiguin.

Also seen enjoying the concert were Sen. Miriam Santiago, MMDA chairman Bayani Fernando, Taguig Mayor Freddie Tiñga and actresses Kris Aquino, Gretchen Barretto and Ruffa Gutierrez.

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