We had a family event to attend earlier in the evening, so we got to the MOA Arena area by around 8:15 pm. I thought there was still enough time to catch the concert. However, I never imagined that the whole Arena parking building would or could be totally filled up. The open parking areas nearby were also all full. I had to make a major roundabout to make it back to the main mall parking. It was already past 9 pm when I got a parking slot. We still had to rush to the Arena and climb up flights of stairs.
We reached our seats by around 9:20 pm already. I was happy to see that the people really left our reserved seats vacant despite our tardiness. I was very relieved. I had a feeling maybe we already missed about three or four songs already when we arrived. (Friends would tell me later that I missed the front act performance of Naturally 7 and the two songs (namely "Fever"and "Haven't I Met You Yet?") Buble began his concert with.)
We caught Michael Buble smartly dressed in a snappy black tux (which he would be wearing for the whole show) towards the end of a joking spiel. The stage had three big screens behind him to ensure that everyone can see him. The center screen had some nifty graphic designs to serve as his backdrop. The first song we heard him sing "Try a Little Tenderness." He introduced the next song as a 1948 song written by Sarah Geronimo (?!). No one reacted so I thought I simply heard wrong. The song was Sinatra's "You Make Me Feel So Young." Then he sang Van Morrison's "Moondance" and another Sinatra song "Come Dance with Me." Buble finished this set off with "Feeling Good" and "I've Got the World on a String." He started off in very good voice.
Then he began to joke around again, introducing his band mates with bizarrely funny stories. This guy is a comedian, an irreverent one at that. He confessed that he cracked a Sarah Geronimo joke that no one got. He was told that Sarah G. was actually in the house, and the camera showed her on the screen. He is not afraid to bring race into his jokes! He introduced his pianist as a Fil-Am guy which of course got the audience excited. Then he took that back, saying, "(he) was just a "stupid" Chinese guy. He introduced the next song as something no Filipino would ever sing. It turned out to be Journey's "Don't Stop Believing," obviously goofing off, and letting the audience fill in the high notes. I did not notice if Arnel Pineda was also in the audience that night.
The loud applause began when the audience heard the intro to his recent hit song, "Everything." Following this, he sang another popular standard "That's All." He then talked about collaborating with Barry Gibb, then sung his cover of "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart?" Then he said he will sing the wedding theme song of his grandparents. Surprise, surprise, he sang "Everybody (Backstreet's Back)" (VIDEO)!
He mentioned that he owes his career to the reception he got during his first Manila stint back in 2003. My wife and I were one of the lucky ones to have been there at the Podium for his free mall show back then. He talked about his time spent with Kris Aquino the night before, and complimented her for being so nice. Apparently, Kris mentioned that her favorite among his songs was "Hold On", so he sang it for the audience even he did not really sing this in concerts.
The next song was the very popular hit "Home" (VIDEO) which was accompanied by video of different types of families on a sofa. Great song. However, I do not know if Buble was having difficulty with the songs or it was the sound system where we were seated, but his voice sounded thin at points and a number of high notes were being dropped from this point. We did not mind too much as the show was going so well.
He announced he will now do his fast songs. He unexpectedly sang "Get Lucky" by Daft Punk! Then, he surprised the people in the VIP seats by going down the stage and making his way into the aisles. Of course everybody wanted to touch him and shake his hands as he did this. He went to a secondary stage set up at the back of the orchestra section and this made the people around this stage to go wild. There he worked the crowd more as he sang with a great-sounding acapella singing group called Naturally 7 to cover Motown hits like "Who's Loving You" and "Ain't Too Proud to Beg."
Then, Buble bid the audience goodbye and exited the stage. We all knew better though -- the house lights were still off, so we know there is more to come. So we clamored for more.
Buble came back on stage with a big over-the-top flourish with his dramatic and stormy version of "Cry Me A River." This ended in a fantastic stunt on his stage backdrop as you will see in the video above. He then went on to sing "Save the Last Dance for Me". He ended everything softly with "A Song for You" (by Leon Russell). The ending was rather unusual. He shut off his microphone and began to sing the last lines of the song acapella, powerfully projecting his voice over the din of the crowd. We could hear that he was singing something where we were seated, but the words were not so clear. It might have sounded great in the orchestra area but I would not know.
That ended an excellent evening with wonderful music and songs. His voice may not have been as strong as expected the whole night, but his genuine friendly personality, goofy charm, sharp showmanship and generosity as a performer were more than enough to carry him through to make this a most memorable concert.