(4 / 5)
“These are the moments, these are the times. Let’s make the best out of our lives.”
Fifteen years after their debut album, Camino Palmero, Alex Band and The Calling gave an all-out debut performance at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City on Friday, November 11. Naturally, the venue was filled with those who grew up listening to pop rock anthems that defined the 2000’s.
The night started a few minutes after eight as local rockers Bonifacio Republic and Johnny Cross warm up the crowd with original songs.
We were approaching nine o’clock when the lights began to dim and smokes filled the stage. This was it. People screamed their lungs out in anticipation as The Calling kicked off the set with a long instrumental intro to “One By One”. Hits after hits followed, including “Adrienne”, “Tonight”, “Could It Be Any Harder”, and “For You” as well as stripped versions of “Anything” and “Things Will Go My Way”.
After “Why Don’t You and I”, frontman Alex Band, who sounded exactly like his record by the way, was left alone on the stage for a solo acoustic version of “Wherever You Will Go”. The singer told the crowd that he wrote the song when he was 16 and did not expect it to be a phenomenon that it was, being dubbed as the Song of the Decade (2000-2010) by Billboard and all.
“I wanted to play this song twice tonight,” he said in an introduction to the major hit. “Later on we will rock it out. For now, I’m gonna play it how I wrote it.” If that wasn’t a treat, I don’t know what was.
Alright, maybe a physical souvenir. During “Stigmatize”, Alex threw the guitar pick he’d been using to the pit’s direction, which found its way on my right shoulder. It took me seconds to realise what it was before I let out a squeal and laughter. It’s safe to say I didn’t let go of the pick for the rest of the show.
The audience did not expect for the band to perform anything outside of their song catalogue, but here we were, listening to a rendition of of U2’s “With or Without You”, something we didn’t know we wanted and it simply added to the night’s nostalgic power pop experience.
The cover quickly transitioned to the next and final song. And it was, you guess it, the studio version of “Wherever You Will Go” just as promised. This time around, with a full band and a give-it-all finale bolt of energy from the artists and audience alike, The Calling’s biggest single drew the perfect conclusion to their Manila debut.
The band said their goodbyes and left the stage, and naturally fans cried out for an encore (“We want more! We want more!”). Despite a surprisingly concise setlist, fans would have to be content with what they had and begin snapping group selfies for keepsake.
While the show took us back in time, it points in an equal degree how far we’ve come and how much we’ve grown. The genre that are almost out of place today amidst dance pop and endless EDM collaborations made more sense than ever. It’s a comfort for the twenty and thirtysomethings out there who privately long to be the kid waiting for their favourite video on MTV again.
Through the years and hiatuses, The Calling still managed to gain the support from their Filipino fans and vice versa. And with such a strong fanbase here, there’s no doubt the Californian band will return. Perhaps sooner than we’d think as they’re working on a new album and, who knows, maybe another Song of the Decade.