MANILA, Philippines - Organizers said they had just over a week to plan for the one-night-only show of Dia Frampton in the Philippines.
The first season runner-up of hit reality singing show "The Voice" is in the midst of the Southeast Asia leg of a tour to promote her debut album "Red."
After Vietnam, she expressed interest to come to Manila. "My guitarist is Filipino," she said.
A week is barely enough time to drum up publicity for a concert, but Hard Rock Cafe in Makati was packed on the evening of January 5 with fans who wanted to see and hear Dia perform. The surprising turnout was proof of the universal appeal of the 25-year-old singer and songwriter, who was handpicked by her "The Voice" coach, country music star Blake Shelton, because he said her voice made him smile.
"I know this show was last-minute, but I want to say thanks to all of you for coming out tonight," she said to her Filipino fans at Hard Rock. Somebody shouted out, "I love you, Dia!" To which she replied, "I love you, too."
Dia began the show with a song from her album, "Don't Kick the Chair." It was an acoustic set, and she was accompanied not by her Pinoy axeman, but by Danny Bemrose, a member of the band Scars on 45, and reportedly her significant other.
Danny Bemrose (left) of Scars on 45 performing with Dia at the Hard Rock Cafe
The two engaged in lighthearted banter in-between songs, but audiences were clearly taken with Dia's sugary vocals that were no different from how she performed on the TV show. She sounded a bit like Vanessa Carlton (who is behind the hit "A Thousand Miles"), but with more soul and depth.
The audience sang along to Dia's next song, "Trapeze," for which she played keyboards. With her long, straight dark hair parted on one side and held in place by a barrette, her deep-set eyes and a winsome smile, it was difficult not to develop a liking for her. It seemed like she took a page out of Zooey Deschanel's guide to being adorable and quirky.
"I feel very grateful," she said, right before launching into "Daniel," a song she wrote about a boy she broke up with prior to hitting it big in "The Voice." With such a sparse and intimate set, it was hard not to feel a connection with the artist, especially when she told stories in between songs.
The acoustic set-up of Dia's show felt intimate to her fans who filled the venue
"I have a sweet tooth, you know," she said at one point. "I was a cupcake for Halloween. I heard you guys have chocolate mountains here. That's crazy!" That got out delighted squeals from the audience. "My New Year's resolution is to do push-ups. My mom and sister are sports buffs. They're athletic. And me," she said gesturing towards her skinny frame wrapped in a lacey black dress. "I'm this."
Dia next performed "Inventing Shadows," the original song she did at the "The Voice" finale. She then serenaded a couple who were celebrating their anniversary onstage. It was all a little bit too cheesy, but Dia's innate charm made the moment work. It was the same even when she did R.E.M.’s seminal hit “Losing My Religion.”
Next she turned Foster The People's biggest hit "Pumped Up Kicks" from a forceful statement about a murderous gunman into a saccharine sweet acoustic ballad. Blame it on the stripped down acoustic set-up, but even her own hit "The Broken Ones" lost some of its power and intensity when she sang it. It's still a pretty potent pop song, though.
Here is Dia singing 'Pumped Up Kicks' at the Hard Rock Cafe Makati:
It may not be everyone's cup of tea, but she almost won a primetime reality singing competition and managed to fill a decent-sized venue halfway around the world in just over a week.
For some people, that's not half-bad. - Rappler.com
Paul John Caña is the managing editor of Lifestyle Asia magazine and is a live music geek. Email him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @pauljohncana