Birthday Gift # 2 – Christina Aguilera’s Back to Basics Concert Tour
If there was one artist that I would wish to witness perform here in Manila, apart from Madonna and Mariah Carey, it would be Christina Aguilera.
So one could only imagine how excited I was when learned that she had agreed to squeeze “Destination: Manila” into her very tight schedule.Two weeks prior to the concert, it seemed that my date with Christina was far-fetched. While tickets were easy to come by, the resources to get the tickets were not. Besides, tickets prices were not really that affordable.
But I got lucky, or blessed as some would say. Two days to the big day, a VIP ticket presented itself to me, thanks to the two press releases I made for Taguig. I called one of my best buddies and fellow Aguilera fanatic, Kris, who managed to bully her hubby into getting VIP tickets, and we were off to the Fort Bonifacio Open Field, where we were seated no more than 20 feet from the stage.
Amazing Set of Pipes, Mediocre Ensemble
Perhaps, I am one of the few very lucky people to have witnessed two Class-A artists perform in the country – Mariah Carey and Christina Aguilera.
I must confess that I am an avid fan of both Grammy-winning artists. But I adore Miss Carey the more, maybe because I grew up listening to her music.
Undeniably, both Misses Carey and Aguilera are gifted with sheer talent – amazing set of pipes and vocal prowess. It is therefore inevitable for me to compare these two amazing talents.
Christina Aguilera’s Back to Basic Concert Tour kicked off with such power and energy, that her performance of “Ain’t No Other Man” single drew awe and wonder from her screaming fans. If not for the blunder of the technical staff that botched her stage entrance, the opening number would have scored 110%. Christina was to supposed to belt out her entrance, but she ended up miming after her microphone malfunctioned. But she regained her composure fast enough, and went through the opening routine.
Two songs later, I lost my enthusiasm with the ensemble. While Christina retained the vocal power with which she started the show, her selection of songs failed to sustain the interest of the crowd. Indeed, her ensemble included less popular songs the Back to Basics album: “Back in the Day”, “Understand”, “Slow Down Baby” and “Still Dirrty”. Her most personal composition, “Oh Mother”, I observed, failed to draw sympathy and emotions from the crowd.
And even the seamless set and costume changes and the well-rehearsed choreography did not answer the question that was ringing through my and others’ ears: “What the hell happened to the Dirrrty Girl that was Christina Aguilera?”
Only when she performed a differently-arranged, Samba-inspired “Come on Over”, that the audience stirred once again. Likewise, a very “Jazzy” version of “What A Girl Wants” appealed dismally to seemingly expectant crowd.
While her critically-acclaimed Back to Basics album earned her a very rare nod from music critics, Filipinos are not really into Jazz-type of music. Most of the spectators came over to hear her sing the songs that made her famous all through the years.
Indeed, when Christina performed her signature songs “Dirrrty”, and “Lady Marmalade” the crowd roared back to life, as if those were the only songs they waited to hear the entire night.
But what she started with energy and power, she ended on fire. Her rendition of “Beautiful” was awe-inspiring, and of course, beautiful, that I nearly cried just hearing it. And her live version of “Fighter” made a truly wonderful and electrifying finale.
For me, there is no doubt that Christina Aguilera is one of the best artists of her time and of her genre.
And I consider myself blessed having witnessed her rare performance in our country. Truly, a wonderful birthday gift.