Boyz II Men brings R&B and Romance back to Manila
When in Manila, yesterday evening our gloomy rainy season mood was lifted for a few hours by smooth music, soulful vocals and perfect harmonies as one of R&B’s best put on their fourth show in the Philippines: Boyz II Men!
A jam-packed arena awaited the soulful trio at the Big Dome. At 9pm Nathan Morris, Shawn Stockman and Wanya Morris entered the stage to a screaming audience and greeted the Filipino fans with Believe, setting the tone for the night with their positive upbeat 2011 song off their 10th studio album Twenty. Keeping the speed of the beat, the three continued with Muzak before slowing down to a clear audience favorite On Bended Knee. The Araneta crowd burst into loud cheers and enthusiastically sang along to the lyrics of this early 1994 Boyz II Men hit.
Taking some time to greet their Filipino fans, Wanya, Nathan and Shawn introduced one another and explained how much they loved playing in Manila: “This is why we keep coming back! Because we love playing here! Manila, if you’re feeling good then say Yeah!” Clearly everyone at the Big Dome was feeling great as they jointly assured the band with a loud “YEAHHH!!!”
The band continued the evening with one of their very first hits Please Don’t Go, a ballad synonymous with the essence of Boyz II Men: an emotional love song full of passionate lyrics and expressive vocals.
Undoubtedly Boyz II Men has achieved their status in the industry through musical talent and flawless harmonies, the perfect fusion of three (formerly four) strong voices into one musical R&B genius. But it is also their lyrics that are so relatable to listeners of all (post childhood) ages, in which anyone can find him/herself understanding the joys, the strains, the ups & downs and all complications of romantic relationships that Boyz II Men have made a central theme in their music. It is with this theme that they performed 4 Seasons of Loneliness reciting lyrics like “Life’s empty without you”, which an empathetic audience sang along to.
“If it weren’t for Motown, there would be no Boyz II Men!” Shawn Stockman told the audience. He asked everyone to stand up, to clap and sing along to the next song, in which the band wanted to pay homage to its musical Motown inspirations. Proving that they are also good at covering classics, the band performed Barrett Strong’s Money (That’s What I Want) and kept the up-beat tempo by drifting into a medley of It’s the Same Old Song/Reach Out/I’ll Be There.
Mellowing the mood once again with their next hit, 2002’s The Color of Love, the band introduced the song with “This one is very special to us and we hope it’s special to you too!” A ballad celebrating multi-culturism, Boyz II Men recorded The Color of Love after the United States experienced a difficult year 2001. The official video, an ambitious project each band member shot in a different part of the world, played in the background throughout the band’s performance.
Back to love songs, an entire Araneta coliseum sang along as Boyz II Men sang their rendition of the 1981 Journey hit Open Arms, which was also made popular by Mariah Carey’s cover in 1996.
Looking for some audience participation, the band asked everyone to snap and sing along to Water Runs Dry before going into their world-famous bedroom hymn I’ll Make Love to You, all the while giving out roses to screaming female fans that ran to the stage to be close to their idols.
A dedication to “the most beautiful and precious women out there”, the trio sang A Song for Mama, a heartfelt love song to every mother.
Proving that over 20 years in the music industry has not weakened their voices, the band impressed by following with a soulful A Capella number.
After an evening of reminiscing in timeless love songs, silky R&B tunes, romantic vibes that melted our hearts, Boyz II Men closed the show on a high note with their very first and one of their most successful hits End of the Road, prompting everyone at the Big Dome to sing along. Subsequently saying their thank yous and goodbyes, a demanding crowd asked for Boyz II Men to come back on stage. Successfully so, the three gentlemen returned, inviting everyone to come closer to the stage to give an encore and finally ending the night with their upbeat song Motownphilly.
At a time in which musicians of many different genres opt to follow certain trends (spell: EDM) to ensure success (speak: sales) – despite their original music background – it is refreshing to listen to an original that stayed true to its roots and did not deviate from what it does best: sing soulful R&B ballads and woo with strong vocals and emotional lyrics.
While we secretly crossed our fingers to witness a live version of all-time favorite & Mariah Carey collab One Sweet Day as well as Doin’ just fine, even in the absence of these two hits, the night couldn’t have been sweeter, more romantic, more soulful and more about simply good live music. The concert was a perfect mix of covers, fan favorites, all-time hits and newer songs, bits from all 10 albums of the band’s 26 year long career. And while it’s back to cloudy skies in Manila, there will always be our mp3 player full of smooth R&B ballads by Boyz II Men to brighten our days. Thanks for the visit and an epic concert gentlemen, until your 5th show when in Manila!