Caught in The Fray
MANILA, Philippines - Facing the press on November 9 (a day before their Manila show), Colorado-based pop-rock band The Fray were visibly impressed with the warm welcome from their Filipino fans.
“We honestly didn’t think we had fans from the Philippines up until about 4 years ago,” said guitarist Joe King.
“But then again, we sucked 6 years ago so you wouldn’t want us to come here anyway. We’re a little better now so you will be getting the best of The Fray.”
The quartet of guitarist and vocalist King, guitarist Dave Welsh, drummer Ben Wysocki and lead vocalist and pianist Isaac Slade finally made it to the country last week, 6 months after they were initially scheduled to perform.
About 75 Pinoy fans were at the airport to greet them when they arrived. They also made an appearance on the popular noontime program “Eat Bulaga.”
“You guys are the most outgoing so far in the Southeast Asian countries we’ve visited,” King said. “In the US, people usually applaud at the beginning and at the end of each song, but you guys clap like every 30 seconds.”
Welsh told the story of how they had a Filipina fan in the US let them know through Twitter that their show near her place was cancelled even before they themselves knew about it.
“So we decided to play at her house and she invited 300 of her friends. Later we found out she’s Filipino so I guess that gave us a taste of what to expect here.”
This writer managed to sneak in a question about what they thought about recent legislation that legalized marijuana in their home state of Colorado.
“I think it’s a smart move,” Slade said. “We spend a lot of time and money getting our police force to jail people for something that’s actually safer than alcohol,” he pointed out.
“I’m proud to live in a progressive state,” King said simply.
In the show at the Smart Araneta Coliseum the next day, November 10, The Fray walked out onstage after a surprisingly well-received opening set by local rockers Moonstar88.
“Mahal ko kayow (I love you all),” Slade shouted, earning him excited squeals of delight.
They began with one of their earlier hits, “All At Once,” with the incredibly catchy and meaningful lyric:
And all at once the crowd begins to sing
Sometimes the hardest thing and the right thing are the same
They followed it up with fan favorite “You Found Me.”
Slade channeled a younger, less disheveled John Malkovich, but his rich, distinct vocals — much the same live as on record — was all his own. He looked a little comical attempting white guy dance moves to “Turn Me On,” but the audience clearly enjoyed it.
“It’s gonna be a good night,” he told the crowd. “So hold on to your horses, or hats, or whatever.”
The frontman passed the mic on to King for the slow and weepy “Ungodly Hour.” While most fans best associate Slade as the face and spirit of the band, King showed an impressive set of pipes in the song.
Not to take anything away from the baldheaded vocalist, but I really think King should sing more.
Meanwhile, watch Isaac Slade perform 'How to Save a Life' in this fan video:
Besides their own songs like “Never Say Never,” “Munich” and “Look After You,” the band also performed a couple of covers, including “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” by The Temptations and “Surrender” by Cheap Trick.
On two occasions, Slade jumped off the stage and ran down to the audience, much to the consternation of security personnel but to the supreme delight of fans. I did not think they would be back after performing their biggest hits back-to-back-to-back: “How To Save A Life,” “Over My Head (Cable Car)” and “Heartbeat.”
But after steady roars of “We want more!” by the crowd, Slade reappeared to do a tender and heartfelt “Be Still” solo on the piano.
The rest of the band joined him for the finale, “Trust Me.”
“What do you think Joe, should we come back?” Isaac asked his bandmate just before they bid their farewells.
“Yeah, I think we should,” was the reply, which was followed by a wave of eager expressions of approval.
Concerts are generally the same whoever’s onstage but, sometimes, there are artists who give their audiences that little extra in their performance; they don’t just phone it in.
The Fray played for their Pinoy fans with lots of passion and heart.
It was something that only a first timer here can pull off.
And really, you never forget your first time. - Rappler.com
Paul John Caña is the managing editor of Lifestyle Asia magazine and is a live music geek. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @pauljohncana