(UPDATE: March 21 Mr. Sakaki commented below, thanking us for our comments. Thank you Mr. Sakaki!) Today was my best birthday ever. I went to see Charice for her “Infinity Japan Tour 2012″ at the Shibuya Koukaidou!
After a long business trip, I met up with my wife and second son in Shibuya early in the evening. Time-wise, we were cutting it close so we hurried to Shibuya Koukaidou. (We stopped by McDonald’s and my wife was a little messy with the hamburger that she practically inhaled.) It has been a while since I’ve seen my wife move that fast. Paying no heed to our surroundings, we rushed to Shibuya Koukaidou and arrived 10 minutes before the concert’s start time. We bought our tickets during pre-selling at the Tokyo Kokusai Forum so we had special seats, third row from the front.
When we got there, the place was packed, all the way up to the second floor. Looking back from the third row and taking in the view of all the seats, my wife said with much feeling, “Charice has come to the point where she could fill an entire place all by herself.”
Even when she was still “Charice Pempengco”, even when she wasn’t known yet in Japan, I was already searching for her videos on Youtube and have been blogging about her from years back. Remembering this, I looked around the packed concert hall and I almost cried.
Looking around, it was impressive that her fans’ age range is incredibly wide, from elderly men and women to young women in their twenties. Including myself, I felt that I was in the company of people who have had their souls captured by Charice’s voice and performances.
Even before Charice came onstage, the crowd was already electrified when the lights came down and when the band started carving out a rhythm. The ones to the right of the stage were especially energetic! We on the left side weren’t about to be defeated by the ones on the right so we stood up immediately.
With the spotlight on her, Charice came onstage. With pinlights bouncing off her short golden hair, she was so cool! There was a storm of cheers and applause from the audience.
The first part of the concert was mainly songs from her Infinity album and some uptempo songs. With the “One Day” dance unit onstage as well, it was a continuous flow of lush entertainment. At the end of each song, my wife kept saying “Charice has gotten better” and while I think she has been great ever since, she has indeed, gotten better, mirroring my wife’s happy feelings.
No matter how hard she danced, no matter how long she kept hitting those high notes, Charice never ran out of breath. Even her breath intake was incorporated into her singing, creating a world of vocals filled with carefully calculated technique. It’s a world that she can especially create because of her hard work coupled with her natural talent.
The second part was emotional singing, showcasing what Charice is known for. Even in singing emotional songs, I thought that this time Charice, unlike before, was not trying to bowl over or impress everyone with powerful, vocally demanding songs. She doesn’t need arrangements that would jolt the audience out of their seats anymore. In particular, even though she could, she wouldn’t hit those long high notes and despite this, the audience was completely satisfied with her performance. It was that kind of scene.
One of the best parts was the song “Tears in Heaven” which she dedicated to her father who died last year. I’ve always thought that up to now, Charice has learned about life’s joys and sorrows, love’s sadness and bitterness though songs. Of course, even though she’s learned how to “sing” a song (and even though she’s “learned” only through songs) she still had an almost miraculous way of persuading, in conveying the emotions behind the song. But now, I think Charice has the ability to put layers upon layers of emotion in her singing precisely because of her present life’s journey. I feel that the time has come when she can add to the depth of a song. You may call it the polish of an adult, or the richness of a professional.
The third part was about dance music. She was in sync with her band, and a snappy, fun performance ensued. Up to now she has been singing imbued with depth from the innermost parts of her being, and now she gives out dazzling, spectacular performances which I feel is an upgrade of Charice’s abilities.
Her dialogue with the audience between songs was good, her spiels sprinkled with some Japanese words was also good and somewhere along the line, from being a girl just singing with all her might, she has grown into a first-class entertainer who delights her audience. Of course, even while showing the best part of being a professional, the honesty and earnestness she has had from the very beginning has not faded.
From one song to the next, it was a concert where the excitement, keenness and buoyancy never stopped.
No matter how much I write it will never be enough but lastly, I must say this.
The last song was “Louder”. Even in her previous performance at the Tokyo Kokusai Forum, my soul was shaken by this song. I was thinking that this song would come somewhere in the latter part of the show but it was the final “money shot” song! When the intro to “Louder” came in, the audience was at full throttle. Swayed by Charice’s “Come on!”, all those in the front row rushed up to the stage. Of course, I went straight to the stage too even though I was in the third row. This kind of thing wouldn’t happen with a Japanese artist. It was really a great thing to do.
With her cool short golden hair flipping about, Charice was singing her heart out. As with my experience before, she has captured my soul, even more so than ever.
With the vigorous rhythm of “Louder” and with people jumping around, I somehow found myself in the middle of the very front row! It was just like what happened at Zepp Tokyo (in her first solo concert last year). The monitor/speakers were beside me, and even the setlist on paper was right in front of my very nose! Moreover, there was no bar separating the audience and the stage like at Zepp. My elbows were on the stage! Perfectly and completely in the front and middle! I wonder if this is even possible!
It was a concert where Charice showed she really values her fans. She went from left to right, back and forth and repeatedly shook the hands of her fans. She firmly shook my hand too! (Ahhh, this post has become completely about me…)
She sang “I Will Always Love You” for her encore.
I first came across Charice when she was a 15 year old girl singing the same song at a British program called “The Paul O’Grady Show”. Since then I’ve been knocked down by her talent, and I wonder how many times I’ve watched that video in my computer.
It’s been four years since then. The girl inside that video was right now, in front of my very eyes, singing the same song. And not just that, it was a performance on a much higher level than four years ago.
I am happy I’ve supported Charice all these years. I would like to continue watching her talent grow.
I’ve thought this many times before, and I still strongly believe this now. Charice, who has, up to now, been the “girl with the miraculous voice”, is about to climb up to a new level of being a “top world-class entertainer”. It was a concert where I strongly felt “Charice” and was completely satisfied.
It really was a good birthday. (I kept yelling “Welcome to Japan” and “We love you”. My only regret was that I didn’t yell “Today is my birthday”.)
I will continue posting about Charice.
Mr. Kunihiko Sakaki is a prize-winning book author from Saitama, Japan. In 2006, he was awarded best new author in the entertainment category of Shinchosha Publishing’s annual competition for his book “Hyaku man bun ichi no Koibito” (One In A Million Lover) which has also been translated and published in Taiwan and South Korea. (Shinchosha is one of the major publishing houses in Japan.) He is an avid Charice fan, and the previous post is a translation of his 3-part review of the Infinity Tour concert in Tokyo which he posted in his blog here, here and here. We thank Mr. Sakaki for allowing us to translate and post this here.
Translated by Mooffin, charicemania.com