IN PHOTOS: Andy Brown serenades Manila with intimate acoustic set

There’s nothing like being on the edge of death to appreciate life. And this performer has had the experience twice.

Andy Brown hails from Fazakerley, England where he began his music career at the Academy of Contemporary Music. There, he met his bandmates to a group called "The Groves." At just 19 years old, doctors discovered that he had a brain tumor which was growing and needed to be removed.

Dr. Lawson was the skilled surgeon that saved Brown's life, and in his honor, the band renamed themselves "Lawson." In terms of musical style, think One Direction. Lawson has a similar quartet boy-band pop flavor gaining modest popularity throughout the world with hit songs here in the Philippines and other parts of Asia.

There were risks to the surgery with a chance that he would lose his sight or get severe facial paralysis which didn’t happen – but he did walk away with permanent hearing loss in his right ear, a devastating blow for a musician. Andy persevered and has adjusted with his left side overcompensating for the loss, now living his life in a monotone world.

Again in 2014, when someone spiked his drink at a bar in London, he woke up the next morning not remembering anything from the night before. With what felt like a strong hangover that would not subside, he was losing weight and could hardly get out of bed. After a couple of weeks, he went to the hospital to find out that his liver was failing, most likely from an allergic reaction to the drug in the drink. He was placed on a transplant waiting list, a procedure where not all patients survive.

While waiting for a donor he was given a course of steroid treatments and his body responded well so he fully recovered without the surgery.

It’s reflected in his behavior on-stage and off. He's friendly with everyone regardless if it’s a VIP, the saleswomen at the pizza counter, or the local security staff. Approachable, thoughtful, patient, and understanding, he’s one of those people who is just simple good folks.

Not a surprising answer, considering that last year he recorded his take on the entire soundtrack with a hint of a country music twang.

He performed with compassion and comforting ease as part of his solo tour here in Manila before heading off to Dubai. It’s not Andy’s first visit to the Philippines, as the lead vocalist for Lawson he has been here a couple of times over the years. It didn’t matter that the venue was far from sold out – I’m certain that he would perform in the same fashion for 500 attendees or 5000. The unobtrusive crowd and the scaled-down size of the dome lent itself to an intimate feel that you don’t often experience.

Keep an eye out for this artist, industry professionals have taken notice of the quality in her vocal tone and songwriting skills beyond her years.

 Steph Martell

The stage set up was bare bones with minimal lighting and local studio musicians on keys, guitar, and beatbox who performed outstandingly without the experience of touring with Andy. The sound quality was decent for this venue with every person in attendance a serious fan – they were ecstatic regardless of the physical setup. There was a line around the SM North Skydome early in the afternoon as folks waited to jockey for position up front as soon as the doors opened.

They sang along with many of the songs, as you’d expect from the Filipino crowd but during the last song, they sounded more like a professional chorus and you could see Andy was touched when everyone was singing word for word in perfect harmony.

As you would expect, his music is uplifting with an alluring vocal quality that is worth a listen.

Even if you’re not a fan, it’s refreshing to know that there is an artist out there who has reached a level of fame but still keeps his feet on the ground, appreciates life and always sees the glass half full. –