May 8, 2015
My daughter and I attended a concert at the new Philippine Arena last month with the Best of Best K-Pop concert. That time we decided to take the shuttle bus from Trinoma Mall, for P50 per ticket. This time for the Katy Perry concert, since I am bringing my whole family with me, we decided to try and drive ourselves to the venue, and compare the pros and cons first hand.
We arrived a little past 6:30 pm. It was not really that hard to find a parking slot, although there was need to walk a distance. Parking fee is It seems they are strict about unloading beside the Arena. Entering the Arena proper was not difficult at all this time. There was no long lines to be seen unlike before. People simply walked in as they arrived. So far so good.
By 8;15 pm, a couple of quirky ladies appeared on the stage. They were The Dolls, composed of international DJ Mia Moretti along with the charismatic violinist, Margot. During their initial spiel, Mia Moretti actually had a scary fall off the narrow ramp of the stage (VIDEO)! Luckily she recovered from her fall with a big smile on her face. Their set was very energetic and entertaining. They played their enchanting brand of electronic music for about 40 minutes.
After The Dolls, we had a very long wait. I was afraid Ms. Perry would arrive past 10 pm already as she did in her previous Manila concert at the MOA Arena grounds. My kids were already very sleepy. Fortunately, we did not wait that long. By about 9:45 pm, the lights dimmed down again and the screaming began. This is it! The Prismatic show is beginning!
On the darkness of the stage, we begin to see some things that looked lit-up spears. Then the introductory strains of the rousing anthem "Roar" (VIDEO) was heard and Katy Perry came out in a stylized dark-colored outfit with glow-in-the-dark bright neon highlights on her hair, chest and skirt. This number was marked by Katy jumping a glowing neon jump rope to great effect. Using the same costume and dancers, Katy went on to sing two more big hits, namely "Part of Me" and "Wide Awake".
A video about stars and space played on the screens. Then the stage lights came back on to reveal an elaborate golden Egyptian-inspired set and costumes. We see Katy in a glittering gold short dress, with a skull cap on her head and a whip in her hand, sitting on the back of an elegant horse powered by two dancers underneath. That elaborate song number "Dark Horse" would be one of the most exciting of the night. Using the same shining costume, Katy went on to sing two more electronica-tinged songs, namely "E.T." and "Legendary Lovers".
After a short pause, the red lights bathed the stage. Still wearing her headgear but just her shiny leotards without the skirt this time, Katy shouted that the next song was for the ladies. It was her breakthrough hit song "I Kissed A Girl". Her backup dancers were notably wearing pads to exaggerate their breasts and bottoms.
There was a cute video showing cats with the cool Snoop Dogg song "Gin and Juice" in the background shown on the screen. Then, dancers in furry cat costumes began to tap dance on the stage. Katy rose out from under the stage wearing her own glittering cat ears and catsuit with tail, standing on a huge golden ball. She sang a sultry version of "Hot N Cold." This was followed by "International Smile". Towards the end, her dancers donned silver sleeves and lattice-petticoat on Katy. She then surprisingly segued into a short cover of Madonna's "Vogue" to end the segment.
After another short pause, slow music was heard coming from a sunflower-adorned piano on the ramp of the stage. The two backup singers came out wearing sunflower design skirts. Katy then came out looking ethereally gorgeous, wearing a platinum blond wig and a flower-power inspired outfit with sunflower-decked long skirt and and bosom. This was going to be the slow set where we get to hear the strong clear pipes of Katy unplugged. Her first song was the inspirational ballad "By The Grace of God."
Then, Katy wanted someone to teach her how to speak Tagalog. She spotted a guy in the VIP section who was wearing the same silver sleeve and petticoat (dubbed "fish costume") she had on in her last set! Obviously a big KP fan, the young man was overcome with excitement, jumping up and down, and hugging Katy. He introduced himself as Marty, 20 years old from Rizal. Katy was delightful in this funny segment, and seemed genuinely friendly and sincere. Her initial attempts to say "Salamat" became "Salami" to the delight of the audience. (VIDEO)
Going back to the music, she then sang "The One That Got Away" and "Thinking of You" as an acoustic medley. In her spiel, she said that last night May 7 is the anniversary of the kickoff of the Prismatic tour in the UK a year and 137 shows ago. Calling everyone to shine their gadgets in the darkness, she sang "Unconditionally" with the audience seen as a sea of bright lights. This was a beautiful and serene part of the concert, though personally I did not really like that last song too much because of the awkward pronunciation of the title in the song.
There was an interlude of high-energy dance music from the past. The two backup singers came out singing CC Peniston's "Finally" to the amusement of the audience, since that song was being used for a popular Ariel TV commercial lately. Katy came out wearing a sexy neon-colored cleavage and midriff-baring top and short skirt, with a green wig and neon-yellow knee-high socks. She sang "Walking On Air", followed by "This Is How We Do" into which she incorporated the chorus of "Last Friday Night". Her two big Number 1 hits followed one after the other, "Teenage Dream" and "California Gurls" (VIDEO), winding up the main show.
The lights were off but the audience simply knew this show was not year over. There was still one big song left unsung, and every one knew what the encore number would be -- "Firework"! For her final song of the night, Katy came out wearing a voluminous multi-colored ballroom skirt. Using so-called "Prismatic glasses" given outside for free before the show, the laser-lights during this number exploded into to fireworks like displays. This song provided a powerfully emotional end to a most memorably colorful concert.
We reached our car by about 11:30 pm. Then the most unfortunate traffic nightmare began. For unknown reasons, we were caught within the Philippine Arena grounds for the NEXT TWO HOURS! Most maddening of all, we were sent on a long detour going northward, supposedly going out to Bocaue, only to be made to make a U-turn back to the same spot where we were two hours ago!
I also saw the shuttle buses still stuck in traffic and mostly empty. I wonder how late the shuttle bus riders got home? During the K-Pop concert, we rode the shuttle and were back in Trinoma before midnight. Things were definitely not that smooth tonight.
When we finally made our way to the exit going back to the NLEX, we found out that cars were being let out only in a SINGLE FILE. So that is why movement was practically a standstill. When we were already on the side of the NLEX going back to Manila past 2:30 am, there was still a long line of cars waiting to go out. This grossly mis-managed post-concert traffic issue should be addressed promptly and properly if this place will be a major events venue.