Soooooo, the long awaited event finally happened last night. Vienna had the honour to have AJ Rafael in the city. The venue at ‘Haus der Begegnung’ in the 22nd district was crowded with fans, performers and music enthusiasts. Despite the delay the waiting definitely paid off.
The concert started with a couple of rad opening acts. It was a pity that the technical problems hampered the good performances but other than that, the performers did a great job. I was overwhelmed by how talented the youth in Vienna is and it does make me proud that the filipino community does encourage talents through events like these.
Overdrive opened the night with a self composed song. Unfortunately, the technical problems sort of distracted everyone from the actual perfomance. The lead singer Avram Carlo was pretty nervous but he and the band tried their best and made the best of the situation.
ROTZBUA the styler gang with Chesney Amada and his extraordinary voice that I adore, Aljohn Rosimo with his super fine and clear vocals and last but not least Francis Blanco the multitalented musician delighted us with their super good medley albeit the loss for word during the performance.
My lovely school friend Faith Blanco performed with her band and I can say that I was wow-ed by their performance. Not only were their musical qualities brilliant but they also rewrote modern songs such as ‘Umbrella’ by Rihanna and turned them into something spiritual. I guess, the band wanted to express their gratitude for their talent to the man above, which I thought was pretty impressive and something what you actually do not come across that often in daily life.
The evening had a lot of surprises in store, Brian & Friends for example. Starting out with only Brian Salonga, Bryan Macalindong and Francis Blanco on stage who let us listen to their beautiful voices, all of a sudden Jeffrey Gabunia, Rose May Alaba and Kim Abapo entered the stage with Jeff rapping Kanye’s ‘Good Life’. But it did not stop at that. Later Almar Rosimo joined and the ensemble was complete. The constellation of the singers plus the songs they chose were remarkable. Kudos, people!
The last singer was Kievin Boongaling who was accompanied by Pheng Soho. They sang a very impressive duett and I was most affected when they sang ‘Unthinkable’ by Alicia Keys ft. Drake. That growing part in vocals is something hard to hit BUT they perfectly hit all the tunes! KUDOS for that. Kievin is currently attending the German ‘American Idol’ in Germany and for that we wish him the best of luck.
The DANCEPERFORMANCES yet again were off the hook. Starting out with Musix and their gender mainstreaming, young and enthusiastical line up, followed by the outstanding Urban Movement who again made everyone’s jaw drop with their creative moves and accurate although not yet that synchronic presentation. I guess the craziest audience hype started when the dancegroup P-Noise stormed the stage who at present have grown in memeber numbers. From the original five they went to a total of nine dancers which was pretty surprising at first but went out really well. You can tell from the screaming in the audience that they really do melt girls’ hearts.
But before AJ could finally start his concert there was another surprise act that everyone literally surprised. The dancegroup who had no name did knock everyone’s socks off. And I was so blind to see since one of the dancers was sitting next to me half of the night. I was so proud of the youngsters and they really danced very well. They just came out of the blue and the surprise was fantastic.
Picture: John Kennet B. Panti (c)
After the opening acts, the audience welcomed THE AJ RAFAEL with a rage of exuberance. With a beautiful Austrian ‘Bösendorfer’ grand piano, AJ started his concert by singing ‘Heart of Worship’ which emotionally caught everyone’s attention. His musical skills are amazing and begrudging. This artist is down to earth as any person can be and I respect him for that, for the fame not getting into him and staying humble. The audience went crazy singing along with him to the songs he wrote. During his performance he encouraged everyone to stand up and to come to the front. It was self-evident that everyone rushed to the front to be near to him. That was when the hype reached its peak. The whole audience sang along as long as they could and AJ entertained them perfectly well. So when the last song was up of course the audience still could not get enough so AJ ended up singing an encore of his song ‘I just want you’.
After the concert people had the chance to stay for a meet and greet whilst before that he had his signing session. Pictures were made and autographs were being signed and AJ infected everyone with his energy. As for that, I was lucky to have gotten a chance to interview him after the very long day.
EMT: Where do you get your inspiration from?
AJ: It depends, mostly on real situations. Musical inspiration comes from just from everybody who jams with me and stuff. Also from hearing something new for example from Bruno Mars. It always inspires me to write something better than the last thing I wrote.
EMT: When did you start playing?
AJ: I started playing the piano when I was five and had lessons for two years, so from five to seven and then I started playing the guitar when I was fifteen. When I was ten I didn’t want to play classical piano anymore.
EMT: Who are your Idols?
AJ: Concerning the writing its Jason Mraz, John Mayer, James Morrison. Otherwise I listened to Boys to Men a lot and also My American Heart who are friends of mine inspire me a lot. And of course Michael Jackson.
EMT: Can you speak tagalog?
AJ: I speak broken tagalog but I understand everything as my whole family speaks to me in tagalog. And I am actually glad that I know what people are saying about me when they speak tagalog but it is hard to bring out the words.
EMT: Biggest petpeeve.
AJ: When people do not show up when they are supposed to and not even trying to call you beforehand to let you know.
EMT: If you could have dinner with 5 either alive or dead people who would they be?
AJ: My Dad, my Godfather, my Mom and my two sisters.
EMT: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
AJ: Still touring I hope, as most musicians end touring at the age of 30. Hopefully have four albums out by then, that’ll be great! And I hope that I can extend my musician life.
Résumé: I can say from my part that it was such an honour to get to meet him. He is such a talented and grounded artist and the world can do with more artists like him. I appreciate him for his musical skills as well as his charity who with his organisation ‘Music Speaks’ tries to increase the awareness of Autism. Apart from that he is a really outgoing and open guy and super friendly and fun :] AND no, AJ, you don’t have to thank me for being interested in your life.
PS. SUPER HUGE KUDOS FOR CLINTON WAGAS who organised and made this memorable event happen :D