Hong Kong stars hoping to perform in Manila

June 26, 2009, 9:18am

Two lovely foreign voices, Susan Wong and Julienne Taylor, both of whom popular among the people in Hong Kong, expressed their urge to come to the Philippines and perform in front of locals they believe are “famous for being musical.”

The Hong Kong pride Wong and Scottish-born Taylor front-acted for “love song” icon John Ford Coley in the latter’s Hong Kong concert held last Friday at the Shouson Theatre of Hong Kong Arts Center. Both acts were well applauded by a remarkably disciplined audience as Wong, known for doing English covers, did a duet of “Sometimes When We Touch” with Coley and the thin, tall Taylor came out with a set of her kind of music.

In an exclusive interview with the Manila Bulletin, Wong noted, “You guys are famous for live music. I went to Manila once, about eight years ago, and everywhere I go there’s live music. The quality of the singers and the bands is just so high. Philippines is really well known for live gigs.”

The pretty Asian is looking forward to do an Asian tour which she hopes would include the Philippines. This year she just released an album called “511,” offering her renditions of notable pop songs like her single “Billie Jean,” “Blame It On The Boogie,” “Umbrella” and “September.” With her bossa nova inclinations, a visit to Manila should sound interesting for local listeners now accustomed to acts like Sitti, Olivia and the rest of the girls doing laidback revivals of familiar tracks.

Both she and Julienne have been currently on top of the heap, with their respective albums managing to get into the ranking of HMV, probably the largest store of records in Hong Kong. As of latest view, their albums have reached fourth and seventh place, respectively.

Julienne, who had a 12-hour flight from UK to Hong Kong and describes her music as “pop with a Celtic thread,” had less to say about the Philippines, though the company of Pinoy musicians who backed her up on performance night was a telling realization. “The guys in the band are fantastic. It’s good to work with them. I’m a type of getting out there to do live shows and having observed them play makes me want to get to the Philippines.”

The all-Filipino back-up band, led by musical director Carlo Gaa (of Area One fame), did serious work during rehearsals. There was a point when, just an hour before the main thing, Gaa had to orchestrate “voicing” practice between Julienne and Filipina back-up singer Angie Bonnevie (sister of Lou Bonnevie). Thus, it resulted to a tightened harmony during the show proper.

Displaying proper singing minus belting, Julienne’s voice is so mellow that she joked she’s okay “for as long as no one falls asleep.” Credit goes to her for having melodic songs sticking to the mind and keeping one from snoring.

Insisting her wish to fly here, Wong told the Bulletin she is just waiting for Danee Samonte (a.k.a. Steve O’ Neal, the Filipino promoter handling Coley) to seal a deal that would allow her to perform in Manila.

Good ending

Of course, there’s the man of the hour, John Ford Coley who fell in love with the Hong Kong crowd. Just like his experiences with Filipinos, he couldn’t help but ask the audience to repeat key choruses of much-awaited numbers, then pour out his feelings of satisfaction while hearing them sing his songs.

“Asians know the music. They appreciate good melodies and they know the lyrics. They like a lot of love songs and that’s really nice for me. You get excited watching how they respond. I just kind of needed to step back and let them sing,” he shared.

John is about to work on an acoustic album comprising of originals and his version of “Leader of the Band,” a piece he described during the show as one of the greatest ever written. According to him he is set to comeback to Manila next year to perform live with America, something that should give him the opportunity to sing songs from the new album.

For those cynics claiming that Filipinos are still not that competent with the global standard, John is one to carry our Philippine flag. “The Filipino crew supporting me is a pool of very talented musicians. They really sit down and study. I disagree to any statement that would say Filipinos are not yet at par with the world as far as music is concerned. You just need opportunity, just like that guy singing for Journey.”

During the performance, John’s natural funny self came out again and made the Chinese crowd laugh a number of times. Some of his jokes he just repeated from previous shows, yet with the smooth way he delivered them, he made them sound fresh and worth-laughing still. He has now returned to Manila to finish his tour with a show the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig today.

Since partner Dan England died recently, the Hong Kong concert had that bit of drama and nostalgia. He mentioned that he is losing friends left and right, in one instance. Then he continued his statement by dedicating songs to some memorable friends.

As a way of dispelling thoughts that he and Dan parted ways roughly, he said, “Dan and I haven’t talked for a very long time. But before he passed away or a couple of days before he died, I got to talk to him and put everything in order, tell one another how much we meant for one another and things like that. It was a good ending.”

Addicted to music and foot massage

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John Ford Coley (below, with former First Lady Imelda Marcos and the author) will have his share of foot massages and his fans, a taste of his music when he embarks on his second Asian tour starting June 11 at the Heritage Hotel Ballroom

MANILA, Philippines – “Yes I admit I’m addicted and it’s all Steve O’ Neal’s fault” — John Ford Coley

Before you get any funny ideas, John Ford Coley’s addiction is not to drugs or substances but to “foot massages.” The pleasant addiction began when we went on an Asian tour called Love Is The Answer last year. The schedule was so hectic I had to think of a way to alleviate his stress and anxiety. And what better way to remedy it but with a good foot massage? It eases tension, relaxes the body and promotes blood circulation.

When I broached the idea to John, he showed some reluctance. But once he got a taste of it, that all changed. In fact by his third foot massage, he was already looking forward to it as early as breakfast time. I would even swear it made his singing better. The first massage he had was at Mall of Asia, then Singapore, then Kuala Lumpur. By the time we got to Bangkok, he was having it twice a day. In Hong Kong and Xiamen, he made sure he got his dose, too. At the end of the tour, he intimated that he would go through foot massage withdrawal because it wasn’t popular in his hometown in Tennessee. I swore that he would return in 2009 for another tour of foot massage salons and maybe some concerts on the side.

Because last year’s performances in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Davao, Tacloban and Cebu were sold out, we decided to do an encore of the tour. This June, John will have his share of foot massages and his fans, a taste of his wonderful music when he embarks on his second Asian tour. John is already excited about the tour because besides the foot massages, he will be interacting with several popular artists like Julienne Taylor, a popular Celtic singer from Scotland; Susan Wong, Hong Kong’s hit star and our very own Olivia and Faith Cuneta.

Also on this tour, John will pay tribute to his singing partner England Danny Seals who recently passed away.

Included in his repertoire are the hits Just Tell Me You love Me, Sad To Belong, I’d Really Like To See You Tonight, We’ll Never Have To Say Goodbye Again, Love Is The Answer, Nights Are Forever, Love Is The Answer, Soldier In The Rain, Part Of Me Part Of You, What Can I Do With This Broken Heart plus solo efforts like Longer, Leader Of The Band, Sometimes When We Touch and more

Catch John Ford Coley Live at the Heritage Hotel Ballroom on June 11; Subic Bay Convention Center, June 12; Pagcor Tagaytay, June 13; and Ynares Sports Arena Pasig, June 26. Tickets are available from Ticketworld (Heritage hotel show) and Ticketnet (Ynares Sports Arena show).

The concert is presented by Steve O’ Neal productions in cooperation with Manila Bulletin, Heritage Hotel — the official residence, PCSO, SBMA, Venezia Hotel Subic, Pagcor Venezia, Business Mirror, Face & Figure Centre Manila, Hard Rock Café, Hub Executive Lounge, Perez Optical, ABS Virgin Coconut Oil and RJ100FM.

John Ford Coley Philippine Tour this June 2009

You can watch JOHN FORD COLEY's "LOVE IS THE ANSWER" 2009 Tour
on the following dates and venues:
  • June 11, 8PM, Heritage Hotel's Main Ballroom, Pasay City, PH
  • June 12, 8PM, Subic Convention Center, SBMA, Olongapo City, PH
  • June 12, 8PM, PAGCOR, Tagaytay City, PH
  • June 16, 9PM, PAGCOR, Paranaque City, PH
  • June 19, 8PM, Shauson Hongkong Arts Center, Hongkong
  • June 24, 9PM, Metro Bar, Quezon City, PH
  • June 25, 9PM, PAGCOR, Davao City, PH
  • June 26, 8PM, Ynares Sports Center, Pasig, PH

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