The Calling Live in Manila! [★]

November 13, 2016

I'm so happy that it's becoming a trend today that all those 90s bands are coming to the country for a concert. One of these groups that I got the chance to see live is The Calling, who performed at the Mall of Asia Arena on November 11. This is their first time to perform in the Philippines.

I think I was around high school when the band was at the peak of their popularity. All their greatest hits (Stigmatized, Adrienne, Wherever You Will GoOur Lives) were part of my life going through adolescence (and you know how complicated that can be, with all the hormones and emotions involved).

I just love them. And I cannot believe I was going to finally see them live.

Me and my sister got the cheapest tickets available for that concert. When we arrived at the venue, we immediately noticed that there were not much of a crowd around - no people were rushing to the arena with us compared to other concerts we went to previously. Entering inside the arena, the MOA staff told us that we don't need to go up to the Gen Ad section. All tickets were upgraded to Lower Box. When we got to the LB section, we realized why. There were not much people in the arena, and it's only an hour to go before the show starts.
Somehow, I knew it would turn out like this. The band is not that popular today (only 90s kids would recognize them, and maybe a few from the younger crowd who got to discover them on streaming sites). It lowered my spirits a bit, to be honest.

Oh well, the show still must go on. There were two local band frontacts for that night - Bonifacio Republic, and another band that I didn't catch the name. I liked more the latter band, just because they performed an awesome guitar cover of the Game of Thrones opening theme. :p
The show's front acts
After these two acts, there were still several minutes of breaktime. I was getting bored and my attention was suddenly drawn to the people behind the tech booth. I wonder what background you need to get that kind of job? It looks interesting. :D
peeps at the tech booth #howtobeyoupo
A few minutes before The Calling went up the stage, we noticed more and more people were filling up the VIP section. MOA staff then approached our section and shouted to us that we could move to the VIP section if we wanted to. Of course we do! I immediately seized my sister and hurled ourselves out of our seats and down to the escalator to the first floor. We passed the staff and the bouncers to the VIP section!

We were so near the stage now. I was then so ecstatic already.

We were around the same distance from the stage as we were during the Switchfoot concert. I saw most people from the Lower Box station were starting to move down also.

After a few minutes, the band finally came up on stage!

We were so near the stage that I am able to see Alex Band's facial expressions, as well as the rest of the band. It really felt surreal.

The Calling - Manila Show 2016 Setlist 
(note: this is not the official list, just compiled it from what I remember during that night)
One By One
Our Lives
Could It Be Any Harder
Why Don't You and I (Santana featuring Alex Band)
Anything (Acoustic)
Things Will Go My Way (Acoustic)
Wherever You Will Go (Acoustic)
For You (Acoustic)
Only One (Alex Band)
Wherever You Will Go

Of course, I grabbed the opportunity to do what I always loved to do during concerts - to take lots of photos!

I was using a 4GB memory card for my camera during that time, and more than half into the show, my camera displayed a daunting message - memory card full. (」゜ロ゜)」So I had no choice but to delete some photos on the spot while the band was performing on stage! LOL.

lesson learned: have at least 8GB of memory card for a concert.

Good thing the band sang most of their old songs, the crowd was very delighted to hear classic favorites. Our Lives is specifically a song that is special to me. It meant a lot to hear it being sang live by the band that night. I didn't take photos or videos when they performed it. I recorded it using my own eyes and ears. :D

Alex Band is still as handsome as ever, no wonder most of us had crushes on him since way back then. :D

I noticed he has several tattoos on his arms. One read - Donate Life. Maybe that's one of his life mottos?

The band also had an acoustic setup during the show wherein they sang songs with the piano and guitar as accompaniment. There's really something about hearing a song's acoustic version, right? It feels more heartfelt. 

Of course, the band ended the show in high energy as they returned to their original setup and rocked the stage with Only One and Wherever You Will Go.

As much as I am a fan of the band, I can't help but notice some flaws during their performance that night.

Alex had a lot of lyrics-fail moments during the show. Well he did claim it was ages since he performed some of their songs that night (particularly For You). Also, his voice sounded different. He sounded tired, and he can't hit the high notes anymore.

All in all, the band still did a great show. You could feel that the crowd was really having huge waves of nostalgia hearing those old songs from the 90s. Such a nice feeling it is. 

I actually learned a lot more about them after the concert. A few Google searches will show you that they had trouble with their label during their second album (Two), and that the band did not receive much support from them. That's when Alex decided to leave and create his own label. The band went into hiatus in 2005. Alex went solo after a while, until the band was reformed in 2013.

I also learned the stories behind their songs. Stigmatized is about a gay couple that can't love each other freely because of how the society (back then) views that kind of a relationship. Could It Be Any Harder is a song Alex wrote about his relationship with his mom (he came from a broken family, his mom remarried and had a second family).

Thanks The Calling for performing for us tonight! The crowd being small that night allowed the fans to experience an intimate stage with the band. We'll look forward to your next album!

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