Like a riot, like a riot, oh! Phoenix live in Manila
January 21, 2014 – “Lizstomania”, one of Phoenix’s signature tracks, perfectly describes the Filipino crowd that evening. The concert was a craze in riotous proportions. The thousands in the pits were brimming with exhilaration as made clear with their frenetic dancing, singing and cheering. Their energy spread like wildfire to everyone present.
Oui! Phoenix, the Grammy Award-winning, eclectically new wave/synth-pop rock band from Versailles, France finally came to the Philippines. Known for rendering unforgettable live sets worldwide, the band was on the wish list of many music aficionados in our country. So it is after 14 years and 5 critically acclaimed albums that they finally made their way to our shores. True enough, living up to everyone’s expectations, they were everything we asked and more (going hey, hey, hey, hey, hey, hey!)
As early as 7 o’clock in the evening, the façade of the World Trade Center was buzzing with people clad in stylish garb and youthful pomp. Boys and girls mostly in their 20s and 30s were seen waiting in very long lines extending as far as the outer gates of the venue. A few days before the concert, both the VIP and Gold tickets had sold out. On concert day, the organizers even opened up the VIP standing area to accommodate the last-minute viewers.
Both the gold and VIP sections of the venue were already filled with people by 9 o’clock. Soon enough the lights dimmed, that was it: on the stage was the legendary band, Phoenix, who started wielding their fiery magic with the track from their latest album Bankrupt!, “Entertainment”, followed by “Lasso” and “Lisztomania” from Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix.
As the crowd lost themselves in singing along and grooving to their music, frontman Thomas Mars couldn’t hide his amazement. Even he was surprised by the warm reception they were receiving. Bassist Deck d’Arcy, guitarists Christian Mazzalai and Laurent Brancowitz, along with two touring members on percussion, played through each song with much gusto.
As any Phoenix fan would automatically tell you, each of the band’s song has its own definitive charm –the distinctive vibe, the memorable (and sometimes debatable) lyrics and the infectious melodies – characteristics that rose through their set list combining their older tracks with the more recent ones. In their 80-minute set, were the bopping tunes of “Girlfriend”, “The Real Thing” and “S.O.S. in Bel Air”, the crowd favorites “Armistice” and “1901”, the trippy medley of “Trying To Be Cool”/”Drakkar Noir”/”Chloroform” and “Sunskrupt!” (combination of “Bankrupt!” and “Love Like a Sunset”).
Towards the end of the main set, Thomas repeatedly thanked the audience, dubbing the crowd as the best and the loudest the band had encountered. He didn’t talk much and when he did, he kept his phrases short. He did however keep close to the crowd as he often willingly stood right in front of the people in the front rows. He lavished in the thrill of being with the audience which in itself is a rare spectacle.
For their encore, Thomas and Christian came back on stage to play “Countdown” acoustically, giving the upbeat-sounding song a sweet, stirring spin, each word of it resonating. This was followed by “If I Ever Feel Better” which Thomas introduced as one of the first songs they ever composed. The last was the much awaited “Rome”.
The evening did not end with just that, though. A Phoenix concert would not be complete without that element of surprise. In Manila’s case, we didn’t get so lucky as to climb the stage and mingle with the band, but we did get to see Thomas Mars’ surfing through the throng of the hyped crowd as the band played “Entertainment” in the background. Without hesitation, the frontman went out the right side of the stage, the red cord of his microphone tracing his location as he circled through the VIP section. He entertained all sorts of crazed fan behavior from handshakes to unguarded physical contact, making the evening all the more memorable. To cap the evening off, white confetti streamed around the crowd as the band made their exit.
Doubtless, Phoenix’s concert was a massive success. The energy of the band and the audience was uniquely infectious. It was great, great fun singing, dancing and jumping along with people who appreciate their music. The experience was rad, unforgettable and definitely a glorious starter for 2014.
Writeup by Sandra Mae Laureano
Photos by Carla Barretto
* Special Thanks to Karpos Multimedia
Phoenix: Live in Manila Setlist
4. Long Distance Call
5. Too Young/Girlfriend
6. Run Run Run
7. Trying To Be Cool/Drakkar Noir/Chloroform
8. The Real Thing
10. Consolation Prizes
11. S.O.S. in Bel Air
14. Countdown (acoustic)
15. If I Ever Feel Better
17. Entertainment (instrumental)