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"Gary V: Live at 25" opens vigorously with inspirational and romantic repertoire

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Gary Valencianoby Bong Godinez
Philippine Entertainment Portal, Nov. 15, 2008

Anniversary concerts are always a nice excuse to reminisce past glories. But Mr. Pure Energy Gary Valenciano made it very clear right from the start that he's equally, if not more, excited about what the future still holds for his stellar career. He'd rather than sit on his hard-earned laurels.

Last night, November 14, Gary V proved that he is still on top of his game as he celebrated his 25 years in the entertainment industry by dishing out the opening salvo of his two-night grand concert, Gary V: Live at 25, at the Araneta Coliseum in Cubao, Quezon City.

The concert was the culmination of all the tributes given to Gary by friends and colleagues months before the big event—most notably the tribute album produced by Star Records titled GV 25 and Universal Records' latest offering, Gary Valenciano: The Platinum Ballad Collection.

SHARING THE STAGE. Known for constantly reinventing his music, Gary and his team obviously tried their best to serve many songs as possible that would best chronicle the singer's journey—a tricky task, given Gary's extensive catalog dating back to 1984 when he released his self-titled debut album.

The production team wisely trimmed down the materials and selected tight numbers familiar to everyone. As it turned out, the tunes rendered that evening best represent Gary's success, commercially speaking, for the past 24 years.

Gary opened the night with the upbeat number "Shout for Joy" before introducing his first guest, The Bloomfields. Again, Gary's choice of guests reflected the 44-year-old performer's desire to reach out and work with the young artists of today.

Rivermaya, Gloc 9, Sugarfree, Laarni Lozada, Rachelle Ann Go, Karylle, Jericho Rosales, The Philippine All-Stars, and the percussion super group Brigada—all put their own distinct style on well-loved Gary V tunes.

As expected, the ballads—"Kailangan Kita," "Narito," "Paano," and "Each Passing Night," to name a few—paired with Gary's passionate performance worked their magic on the crowd. His duet with Laarni, Rachelle Ann, and Karylle elicited loud applause from the audience, owing to the ladies' impressive interpretation of the songs.

Paying homage to his music back in the ‘80s, the energetic singer-performer also dished out early hits like the coming-of-age anthem "Growing Up" (with Gloc 9), "Wag Mo Na Sana," and "'Di Bale Na Lang Kaya" (with Jericho).

Although he gained popularity as a certified pop singer during his younger years, Gary bravely shifted to inspirational music as a way to announce his newfound devotion as a Christian. "Could You Be Messiah" and "Take Me Out of the Dark" once again showed that side of Gary.

Gary V: Live at 25 served as a family affair as well, with Gary's children Paolo, Gabriel, and Kiana performing together with their proud father.

MORE TO GIVE. One of the highlights was Gary's public declaration of affection for his wife and manager, Angeli Pangilinan, whom Gary credited for saving his life many times throughout his difficult battle with diabetes.

The crowd gushed in unison the moment Gary played the familiar notes of the heartbreaking ballad "Sana Maulit Muli" on a keyboard. Unknown to most people, the couple collaborated on the song, with Gary and Angeli sharing credits both for its music and lyrics.

Gary ignored his hoarse voice near the tail end of the concert as he still let everything out singing "Sa Yahweh," "Only Hope," "I Will Be Here," and the Christian hymn "Warrior Is A Child."

His greatest test, however, was reserved for an unexpected "showdown" with the Concert King, Martin Nievera. Back in the ‘80s, Gary and Martin were pitted against each other though both repeatedly dismissed the supposed rivalry as being merely generated by the media to create excitement. In a press conference before the concert, Gary humbly said that Martin had always been a step ahead of him. Back when Gary was still feeling his way up, the Concert King already had huge venues and grand productions.

Gary performed Martin's signature hit ‘Be My Lady." When Martin emerged from the back to join Gary, the entire Araneta Coliseum erupted in cheers ranging from excitement to complete disbelief. The two respected singers took turns singing their songs without overshadowing each other. Gary capped the evening with the love ballad, "How Did You Know."

Throughout the concert, Gary often joked about how age has slowed him down and how difficult it is now for him to keep up with the young ones when it comes to exchanging dance moves and hitting the high notes. Those remarks were definitely only self-effacing. Gary still has what it takes to groove and sing like he always used to. But more than proving his versatility, Gary V: Live at 25 illuminated Gary's unfading passion—and his heart—for never-aging music.

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