Halsey in Manila: ‘I’ve been waiting to play this concert for a very long time’

Amanda T. Lago
Halsey in Manila: ‘I’ve been waiting to play this concert for a very long time’
From running into the crowd, to constant declarations of love, Halsey shows her Filipino fans how much her Manila show means to her

MANILA, Philippines – It’s quite something to witness the bond between a musician and her fans – and at Halsey’s Manila concert, her interactions with the audience was perhaps as central to the show as the musical performances themselves.

The concert, held last August 10 at the Kia Theater, saw droves of Halsey’s followers brave the terrible weather to turn up for the singer, who was in town for a night to play her Hopless Fountain Kingdom world tour. Largely a younger millennial and GenX crowd, many of them came dressed in Halsey’s vaguely 90s, DGAF aesthetic.

Crop tops, combat boots, short shorts, torn tights – this was the uniform for the night, even for Halsey, who emerged onstage to thunderous cheers after the audience was adequately hyped Indonesian R&B singer Niki’s opening act.

“Do you see how beautiful you are right now?” Halsey said to the crowd quickly after she entered – setting the tone for the show, which would turn out to be defined by the constant exchange of affection and energy between the singer and the audience.

Halsey soon launched into “Eyes Closed,” a track from Hopeless Fountain Kingdom, the album at the center of her tour.

She then continued with some of her older hits such as “Gasoline” and “Castle” from her debut album, Badlands, before circling back to Hopeless Fountain Kingdom with “Heaven in Hiding,” and “Strangers.”

The song, which features Fifth Harmony’s Lauren Jauregui on the original track, came with a dedication that night: “This song is for all of my fans who are very brave members of the LGBT community.”

HOPELESS FOUNTAIN FANDOM. Halsey's Filipino fans don't scrimp on the love as they cheer for the singer throughout the show.

Halsey went on with “Roman Holiday,” before taking a brief pause to fix her shoe in another candid moment that made the audience feel that much more connected to her.

“I’ve been waiting to play this concert for a very long time,” she said, inviting the audience to celebrate as she launched into “Hurricane,” a song that she said “is a reminder that you do not belong to anybody but yourself.”

She then performed “Colors,” and at some point in the song ran off the stage to go around the theater, high fiving fans along the way. The security crew that tailed hopelessly behind her looked stressed out – but Halsey didn’t seem to give a f**k.

“Don’t ever lose that energy,” she said breathlessly as she got back on stage.

“Every single artist in the world knows that when you come to Manila, you will see some of the best music fans in the world,” she said, saying that her Philippine fan club has been around for as long as she can remember, even when she was just starting out.

After the high of running through the audience, Halsey slowed it down with a pared-down version of what is perhaps her most popular song, “Closer,” the earworm of a song that she co-wrote and performed with the Chainsmokers.

After that and “Sorry,” she kicked the pace back up with a succession of bangers: “Alone,” “Walls Could Talk,” and “Now or Never,” accompanying her vocals with the same powerful moves that had her stomping and jumping all over the stage. Choreography might be the proper term to refer to her dancing – but her moves looked and felt spontaneous – and, come to think of it, so did the rest of the show.

“Usually this is my last song,” she said, before performing “Young God.”

“If I walk off stage and you guys are loud enough, maybe I’ll come back and do a few more.”

Obviously, the audience was loud enough. After her the song, somewhere between scattered shrieks of pure emotion and calls for other tracks they wanted to hear, the crowd managed to come together for a few seconds to chant Halsey’s name.

CENTER STAGE. The singer says her Manila show is one she's been wanting to play for a long time.

She returned for an encore which included “Hold Me Down,” and “Ghost,” which she said was the only time she would perform the song on that tour.

After the song, an emotional Halsey told the crowd, “All my life, I’ve been looking for someone to take care of me, to make me feel safe.” Her words weigh on the crowd, who no doubt know of Halsey’s troubled past and her struggles with sexual violence (who could forget her powerful Women’s March piece, “A Story Like Mine”?).

Before the mood got too somber though, Halsey brought it back to what has been the show’s backbone all throughout – that is, the undeniable mutual love between her and her Filipino fans.

“I realize I’ve been looking in the wrong place the whole time because it’s right in front of me,” she said.

Halsey then ended the show with a performance of “Bad at Love,” a confetti shower, and a theater full of giddy fans who sang the track all the way home. – Rappler.com

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Amanda T. Lago

After avoiding long-term jobs in favor of travelling the world, Amanda finally learned to commit when she joined Rappler in July 2017. As a lifestyle and entertainment reporter, she writes about music, culture, and the occasional showbiz drama. She also hosts Rappler Live Jam, where she sometimes tries her best not to fan-girl on camera.