Pumped Up Avril Lavigne!
Written and photographed
By Jude Thaddeus L. Bautista
Avril Lavigne kept an incredible pace over a concert that lasted over 3 hours at the SMART Araneta Coliseum last February 16, 2012. The concert is part of her Black Star Tour locally produced by WILBROS. Winston Llamas Head of WILBROS said, “Avril has a huge fan base here in Manila as you can see with the capacity crowd here in SMART Araneta Coliseum. We’ll be following this up with ‘The Greatest Hits tour’ with A1, Blue and Jeff Timmons of 98 Degrees on Feb. 25 and Olivia Newton John on March 31 also on the same great venue.”
In spite of being just 27 years young the number of hits to her name is such that she could not play all of them in one concert. Thousands of light sticks glowed in the darkness waiting in anticipation of the Canadian sensation. The distinctive piano keys and intro for “Black Star,” played. But the stage was still mostly dark, then the guitars and drums followed. Then the music slowed again, Avril emerged singing slowly waving a plastic star wand. The crowd already had the same wand glowing and waving in the darkness.
After the slow song, 19,000 screaming fans immediately got up from the upbeat second song, “What the Hell.” In between choruses she’d pump up the crowd screaming, “Jump Jump Jump!” Avril had the whole SMART Araneta Coliseum at the palm of her hand. By the time she got to the similarly fast songs “Sk8trboi” and “He Wasn’t” she played a game with the crowd. She’d raise her hands high to the air and say “Put your hands up!” and everyone would raise their hands in unison. Then she’d say, “Put your hands down!” She’ do this in such a fast pace or in order to catch the crowd doing the opposite of what she was saying. She has a natural ease and rapport with her fans.
It’s apparent that she cares more for her fans than the press, refusing interviews from local broadcast networks. Even the charms and persistence of ANC’s Ginger Cornejero didn’t work on the artist labeled as “Anti-Britney.”
The popular local synth pop Somedaydream composed of Rez Toledo was the front act. Green lasers shot out of the sides near Toledo as he sang the modified vocals. As high tech as it seems to the millennial generation, the late Michael Jackson had a very similar looking video for “Rock With You.” He danced as green lasers shot out from behind him circa 1980. The Great Stevie Wonder also modified his vocals as early as the mid 1970’s. The same Stevie Wonder who also wrote a song complete with music and lyrics within 48 hours for a tribute to Whitney Houston, which he performed at her Home Going ceremony. Toledo has a hit on his hands with “Daydreamer” which was popularized by the Cornetto TVC. He also performed, “Sing this Song” and “Do do with You” all of which are available in his recently released self titled debut album.
According to Wikipedia, “Avril’s debut album “Let Go” made her the youngest female soloist to reach No. 1 in the UK, and the album was certified four-times platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America. By 2009, over 18 million copies had been sold worldwide. Her breakthrough single, “Complicated“, peaked at No. 1 in many countries around the world, as did the album Let Go.” She has since made 3 more albums and has gone to number one in in the U.S. Billboards and several other charts.
Five loyal Filipino fans who were at the airport to welcome her, were also front row and center at the concert: Hitori Yuuki, Nilo Jay De Guzman, Ysha Franco, Arden De Torres and Moises Salting. All of them were unanimous in praising Avril for her songwriting. Moises however is also a Nirvana and Guns N’Roses fan he said, “She’s one of the few mainstream pop stars that I listen to and really like. My taste is usually rock, metal. Avril is different because she makes sure that she’s involved in the whole creative process.” Although musically they Avril is different from those bands they have a parallelism in attitudes, “Her similarity with those bands is they really don’t care how other people think of their image. For them it’s all about the music.”
According to him she is one of the few artists out there with creative credibility and makes music the way that she wants, “Musically she has nothing else to prove. Image wise, I admit there’s a problem regarding her image. She’s very misunderstood.” Although he wouldn’t go so far as to comparing her with GNR bad boy Axl Rose, he believes that they are both honest, “If they’re going to say something they won’t try to be fake.”
Whatever people believe, her connection with fans and love for music is undeniable. She performed a total of 17 songs that night which include: “I Always Get What I want”, “Alice”, “When You’re Gone”, “Wish You Were Here”, “Unwanted, Musical Piece”, “Girlfriend”, “Don’t Tell Me”, “Smile”, “I’m With You”, “Push”, “I Love You” and “Complicated”. She also covered B.O.B’s “Airplanes” singing the portion of Hayley Williams. Avril’s voice showed its more soulful side, an interesting version to the lead vocals of Paramore. The song smoothly segued to her own, “Happy Ending.”
Avril during her concert said, “This is the 2nd to the last city of the Tour. Manila is really special.” She then went on to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for the last leg of the Black Star tour. She had her troubles there in 2008, from wikipedia: “In mid-August, Malaysia’s Islamic opposition party, the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party, attempted to ban Lavigne’s show in Kuala Lumpur, judging her stage moves “too sexy”. Her concert on 29 August was considered as promoting wrong values ahead of Malaysia’s independence day on 31 August.On 21 August 2008, MTV reported that the concert had been approved by the Malaysian government.” For this Black star tour she had an easier and more successful time in KL, just for February she came from cities in Japan China and of course it’s more fun in the Philippines.