Just Like Magic!
Snippets of distortion guitars and the bass drum interrupted the jazz tunes that kept the crowd-in-waiting company. With the lights gone, and the chilly air engulfing the theater, what came next surprised all. With a bang, the opening act jumped right into song. They steered the atmosphere to that of a rock show with their punk rock melodies, fast beats, and head banging.
They ignited crowd interaction as hundreds of hands clapped in the air. Julz Savard, the lead singer, introduced the band as Save Me Hollywood. Throughout their 30-minute set, her witty remarks kept the crowd entertained.
The synthesis of pop, reggae, rock and R&B washed over the confines of the Newport Performing Arts Theater as Magic! began their set list with Stupid Me.
“Manila, are you ready??” lead vocalist Nasri Atweh asked.
The crowd answered the only way they could: through screams. Seeing that the crowd was seated given the layout of the theater, Nasri instructed them to stand up.
The crowd needed no further coaxing. In a matter of minutes, majority of the audience had left their seats to get as close to the stage as they could. Multitudes of gadgets were high up in the air: smart phones, tablets, and GoPros.
Nasri would later on introduce each member to the crowd: Ben Spivak on bass, Alex Tanas on drums – loud screaming followed Alex’s name, and Nasri quipped with, “Oh Manila likes the drummer!” – and Mark Pelli on guitar.
Following the second song Mama Didn’t Raise No Fool was No Evil. Nasri sang the refrain with matching actions. In every song, he grooved to the rhythm.
After covering Stevie Wonder’s Master Blaster, and thanking the crowd numerous times, Magic! proceeded with the next song. During Mark Pelli’s guitar solo in Let Your Hair Down, the crowd clapped and cheered him on.
An inevitable occurrence in shows is hearing a brave soul scream their love for the band. Nasri heard it, said the words back, and added, “You’re so loving!” referring to the crowd.
“I was in a boy band with 3 Filipino guys!” Of course, at the mention of this, the crowd was thrilled.
“Are you guys ready to turn it up? Are you ready to dance??” Nasri asked once more. More hands flew in the air, and voices increased their volume. No Way No and Paradise made their way to Filipino ears.
At Paradise’s conclusion, Nasri sat by Alex’s drum kit. Referring to Mark, Nasri announced, “Ladies, he’s not gonna play unless you make some noise.”
At that cue, more screaming filled the theater, and Mark started a funky rhythm.
“Ladies wanna have some fun?”
A loud yes resounded as Magic! covered Cyndi Lauper’s Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, reggae-style. It was time for the ladies of the Newport Arts Performing Theater to have their shining moment as they were made to sing the refrain with their hands up in the air.
“This is reggae. You have to dance,” were Nasri’s instructions. Sway and dance to the rhythm they did. Musical peaks came every time Magic! sang a crowd favorite, more so when the last two songs rolled on. Don’t Kill the Magic and Rude pushed the crowd to jump.
“Thank you so much. We love you!” were Nasri’s parting words. He spoke on behalf of the band. Before retreating backstage, they gave front-row standers high-fives and selfies.
The lights were out once again, and the crowd was left with a bittersweet pang. They hoped for more, and chanted this desire. The crowd’s plea was heard, but answered in an unexpected way. Thirty minutes later, Magic! reappeared to do a meet and greet for those who had stayed.
No doubt the night was an overflow of positive vibes. Accompanying the floating feeling of enjoyment was an irresistible impulse to move to the rhythm. It’s not often that reggae takes over the Philippine stage, but when a band like Magic! does, it proves to be a whimsical night.
Special Thanks to Wilbros Live!
View more Photos at Magic! Live in Manila Photo Gallery
Photos by Peter Tolibas
Written by Isabel Matias
Magic! Live in Manila Setlist:
-Mama Didn’t Raise No Fool
-Master Blaster (Alex Solo)
-Let Your Hair Down
-No Way No
-Girls Just Wanna Have Fun
-Don’t Kill the Magic
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