By DAVID CASUCO
A WEEK before the whole Christendom celebrate the day of the Risen Lord, Filipino concert icon Gary V. did a thing only few artists could ever do – worship God with his songs and get away with it.
For two nights at the Araneta Coliseum, Gary V. took concert fans to another fabulous journey with “Arise Gary V 3.0,” a grand musical event that celebrates love, life, family, and a sublime reverence to the Lord Almighty. Artists usually steer clear from wearing religious colors on their sleeves in public performances. They always go with the beaten path, which is political correctness. That, to them, is the way to survival in the showbiz industry.
That does not apply to Gary. He is set apart, singular, one of a kind. He proclaims his faith in every opportunity and people agree with the religious beat that he puts to his music.
“I touch people where it matters most,” confesses Gary, pointing to his heart.
Gary makes people feel awkward with “Di Na Natuto.” He makes people dance with “Di Bale Na Lang.” He coaxes people to worship like David in “Shout for Joy.” He can spin Christmas from the point of view of a brokenhearted in “Pasko Na Sinta Ko.” His interpretation of Steven Curtis Chapman’s “I Will Be Here” tells his audience that ultimate sacrifice in love is desirable as it is inspiring.
And for people who have watched Gary thru the years, that statement sums up why Gary became the brightest star of his generation.
The vintage crisp moves that earned for him the moniker “Mr. Pure Energy” has decelerated a bit, but whatever footwork he lost he compensated it with more impassioned act.
The two-night concert was Gary’s offering to mark his 30th year as an artist in the recording and concert scene. His son Paolo Valenciano, who co-directed the show, took a risk putting video clips of the young Gary guesting in local shows in the early 80s. It worked wonders as it evoked added dimension to the meaning to the song.
Judging from the reaction of the crowd, the video snippets heightened the emotions of the songs on the repertoire. The most unforgettable moment was when Gary was doing “Di Na Natuto,” onstage and the backdrop video coming off almost simultaneously with the live music. Invariably that would look like a ballroom tribute to a birthday celebrant, but “Arise Gary V 3.0” being a 30-year career patchwork, made the use of video a director’s masterstroke.
The April 11 concert was to start at 8 p.m., but the stage got alive only at 8:23 p.m. when a disc jockey put up an ear-splitting act for over 30 minutes. The young crowd must have been entertained, but an elderly lady sitting near me had to plug her ears with her pinkies. At exactly 9 p.m. Gary took center stage and the wonderful journey took form.
Sarah Geronimo, one of the show’s guest performers, electrified the crowd while matching Gary V’s vocals and footwork doing the re-arranged original “That’s Why.”
“Arise Gary V 3.0” may not have surpassed Gary’s best performances, but it was a milestone in itself because, for the first time, Gary had his whole family involved in the project: Paolo as director and Gab and Keana as guest performers. (With reports from Tony Vizmonte).