Style Living Self Celebrity Geeky News and Views
In the Paper BrandedUp Hello! Create with us Privacy Policy

Poignant, personal, powerful: 3 things we love about ‘Rivermaya The Reunion’

By KATHERINE MAGSANOC Published Feb 18, 2024 6:40 pm Updated Feb 18, 2024 8:53 pm

It almost felt like an extended celebration of Valentine’s Day with all the love that was in the air last Feb. 17 at the SMDC Concert Grounds in the SM Mall of Asia Complex—love for Rivermaya, love for their music, love for their lyrics, and love for the ones we watched the concert with.

The clamor for a band reunion had been around for years, but this writer remembers that it was after the Eraserheads’ successful December 2022 reunion concert (in the same venue) that the clamor came back to life and, at that time, louder and persistent. The Rivermaya reunion request posts began as we were still inching our way out after the Eheads bid adieu. 

The audience who enjoyed Rivermaya’s music as college and high school students were ready to go back in time once more, this time with four of the five original members: Rico Blanco, Bamboo Mañalac, Nathan Azarcon, and Mark Escueta. (It was original guitarist Perf de Castro who was not part of the reunion.) 

Here are three things we loved about the Rivermaya reunion concert:

It started on time

My companion and I took our sweet time walking to the venue, having seen other concerts there before. The poster said “8 p.m.” so we thought it would hopefully begin at 9 p.m. Imagine our surprise when, as soon as we got there past 8:10 p.m., the concert began. No front act, no blows and whistles, just the band immediately taking the stage and launching into their first song, Monopoly from the album Trip (1996).

“Tuloy-tuloy na po ‘yan,” a kind marshall told this writer. And so we found a place perfect to document the experience and sing the night away.

They handled a technical issue with finesse

After the first hour as the band began their next song, the audio was suddenly lost. But the band kept playing, perhaps because they could still hear themselves in their in-ear monitors. But because they were somewhat close to the audience (VIP, Gold, Silver, Bronze areas comparatively nearer the stage than past concerts), Bamboo realized what was going on, removed his monitor, and paused singing with a smile.

As fans took that opportunity to take a break, the band remained with the audience, seen on LED screens mingling and chatting with the audience. They waited with us.

After 15 minutes, the show was back on.

Their musicality has gotten finer with time, like wine

The 24 hits Rivermaya played for their devoted fans took on a different “texture” with the help of Filipino musical director, musician, and composer Mel Villena and his band. Wind and string instruments added class to the songs, as if to suggest that the songs have also matured along with the band. There were points where it almost sounded classical — a perfect match to the chill crowd and the chilly, cool weather. 

It was perfect, until the concert ended a little before 11 p.m. Not too early, not too late, especially for those who needed to commute. Like we said, perfect.

PhilSTAR L!fe came across members of the audience and production team who were more than happy to share their thoughts about the concert.

Herbert (second from right) with older brother Darwin, sister-in-law Kathy, and wife Heidi.

What was your favorite part of the concert and why?

Herbert Hernandez, Guitarist, 6Cyclemind and Moonstar88: Before ako sa Moonstar88 and 6Cyclemind may band ako na highly influenced ng Rivermaya, named Angel in Disguise based sa Princess of Disguise. Best moment for me yung kinanta ni Bamboo yung Nerbyoso. Alam ko na sa recording supposedly si Bamboo yun but he left na the band when it was released. Ito yung nakasagot sa “what if” moment ko dati! Ngayon alam ko na — ang ganda!!! Super happy ang 90s puso ko.

"One of my anthems. Sarap!" writes Bel on his FB post, pertaining to ‘Kung Ayaw Mo Wag Mo.’

Were your expectations of a Rivermaya reunion concert met?

Bel Sayson, General Manager, LYRIC Music Store: Very much so. I never doubted their individual talents, more so now that they played as a band again. The reunion was long overdue and seeing them again all together in one big stage brings back many fine memories. Them playing Bring Me Down and 20 Million from the first album as well as The Princess of Disguise from the second album were highlights for me. It was worth the time and effort to be here. Salute.

Soki (Lower right corner) with Rico Blanco’s older sister, Heart (with glasses on head) and Rico’s mom, TIta Puti (in floral dress behind them).

Was it worth it to fly all the way from Sydney to watch the concert?

Soki Munar, Former OPM Executive, Flew in from Australia to watch the concert: Of course because it was a historical event! It was my dream project before I left the Philippines. I had goosebumps seeing them onstage while the crowd was singing their songs. Amazing performance, really. I felt the emotions and energy [of] the band. The production numbers were visually and musically stimulating — international level!

"Libo-libong alaala," captions Macy on her FB post with the LiveNationPH and Saga PH teams who worked behind the scenes.

What was it like to be part of the team behind the concert, Macy?

Macy Cruz-Mendoza, Program Coordinator, Rivermaya The Reunion: This reunion is for them, more than anything. They played the songs they wanted to play and prepared the setlist for their fans. It was really all about the music they made together. No drama, no gimmicks, no unnecessary nostalgia, just living in that one-night-only moment. There were magical moments [when] they knew playing together felt just right. Galing galing nila grabe.

Dale arrives at the venue two and a half hours before the concert to save his spot.

What do you think about the Rivermaya reunion concert?

Dale James Ferrer, Professional Acoustic Musician: The concert definitely exceeded my expectations! I'm a huge fan. I know every song from the first three albums including the deep tracks, that's why I am very happy they played a lot of the songs from them. My favorite part was seeing them enjoying each other's company, it was a joy to watch. Almost three hours and 24 songs I couldn't ask for more!

Dexter checks out post-Rivermaya concert posts and reels on social media.

What was your favorite part of the concert and why?

Dexter Dagotdot, Grassroots Musician and Sessionist: There was great lighting, great stage and screen setup, and a great way to manage the technical issue. The band looked forever young; Bamboo and Rico’s voices are as clear as they were 28 years ago. They delivered an amazing, high-energy performance all throughout, and while the venue was big, the audience felt like one tight circle of Rivermaya fans.