The 90s Live!
July 22, 8 p.m.
The Theatre @ Solaire,
Solaire Resort & Casino,
1 Aseana Ave., Entertainment City, Parañaque City

By Susan Claire Agbayani

When thinking of music of the 1990s, what comes to mind? Off the top of our heads: The Dawn, Alamid, INTRoVOYS, Afterimage, Eraserheads, Yano, Rivermaya, Color It Red, The Youth, True Faith, Orient Pearl, and FrancisM. Watering holes like Weekends Live, Atrium, Kalye, Club Dredd, Mayric’s, 70s Bistro, Chatterbox Pizza, Kampo, Freedom Bar, Yosh, Oracafe. Tugtugan Pamorningan. The NU Rock Awards. Channel V and MTV Asia.

Reliving the good ol’ days

For some time now, singer Wency Cornejo — who went solo when AfterImage disbanded then eventually moved to Davao with his now 17-year-old son to run a food business — had been toying with the idea of inviting his friends from the 1990s to celebrate his 50th birthday. So he asked and they answered. The result is a very rare coming together of some of the biggest names from the era for one night of music.

“The people performing… are the ones closest to me. Originally [intended to be] my 50th birthday show which grew and grew, they were tapped because they’re close friends,” the composer of AfterImage hits like “Next in Line” told BusinessWorld via Facebook Messenger.

“This is something I have dreamt about for several years now, and I am grateful it is finally [happening],” Mr. Cornejo said during an interview at Kuya’s restaurant in Quezon City. “Hopefully, a Part II will be staged.

Mr. Cornejo managed to entice The Dawn’s Jett Pangan, Introvoys’ Paco Arespacochaga, Cooky Chua of Color it Red, True Faith’s Medwin Marfil, Yano’s Dong Abay, Naldy Padilla of Orient Pearl, Perf de Castro of Rivermaya, and Lei Bautista of Prettier Than Pink, to join him onstage. Many of them will be coming back for this musical reunion after settling abroad, and they expressed their enthusiasm for the get-together to BusinessWorld.

“He reached out to people who really CAN’T and prolly WON’T say ‘no’ to him. LOL,” quipped INTRoVOYS drummer Paco Arespacochaga over FB Messenger. “I’m very excited to get on stage with everyone. I’ve been looking forward to this event since the millennium. I’m expecting people to get their money’s worth during the concert. As farfetched as it seems — after the concert — I expect all of us to be relevant again and have a more visible and solid space in the local music industry,” he said.

Mr. Arespacochaga — who composed one of his band’s biggest hits, “Line to Heaven,” for his parents who didn’t live long enough to see him succeed as a recording artist — today lives in Glendale, California with his wife and five children, where he does marketing for American Professional Ambulance, a non-emergency ambulance service company.

“When Wency Cornejo called up to ask if I’d join them, I immediately said ‘yes.’ I didn’t even ask how much I was [going to get] paid,” said Orient Pearl vocalist Naldy Padilla.

“Honestly, I didn’t even expect I was [going to get] paid at all! Being friends since the ’90s, we’d always be happy to do these ‘pro bono’ favors for each other’s concerts. I only understood the real magnitude of this project after he called a couple of days later to give me the pictorial and contract signing schedule. Contract signing. Seriously?! We never did that before. And, that really made me very excited about this gig. Now, I understand what this is all about. This is definitely not going to be ‘just-one-of-those-shows’ you know,” said Mr. Padilla, who, along with the group’s former manager John Ong, composed their runaway hit “Pagsubok.”

Lei Bautista, lead vocalist/guitarist of all-girl band Prettier than Pink, pointed out that it has been 15 years since she performed on the same stage with the rest of the ’90s musical icons in the lineup.

“This concert is the first of its kind. It’s history in the making. Epic! I am excited and super honored once again — after around 15 years — to share the stage with fellow artists who carved their own place in ’90s OPM music history!,” she said.

“I’m also excited to watch everyone perform since there’s music from each artist that I love, too! It will surely be very nostalgic and it will bring back fun memories for us artists and music lovers!”

Ms. Bautista — who composed Prettier than Pink’s biggest hit, “Cool Ka Lang” — remarried in April, and has three grown children together with her current husband. She shuttles back and forth between California and the Philippines, but is based in Manila for now.

She will be performing Alamid’s “Your Love” during the concert in memory of the band’s vocalist Gary Ignacio who died a few years ago.

Also rendering a song in tribute to a fallen musical star is Rivermaya’s and Triaxis’ guitarist Perf de Castro. He will be paying tribute to the late Francis Magalona, aside from performing Rivermaya songs.

“I’m on my way to the airport [in LA] now. I’m really excited to come home and play this show! [There’ll be] great music; and [we’ll be] revisiting old memories while forging new ones with awesome company,” said the former guitarist of Rivermaya (in its early days) and Triaxis who is now based in Los Angeles. A full-time musician, he is married, with two boys.

“[The concert] will certainly be a testament to the fact that that decade was an awesome time for Pinoy Music/OPM,” said Truefaith vocalist Medwin Marfil. “We are very proud of the music that we created during the era and we’d love to share it again and again. Siguradong masaya itong show na ito! (This show is going to be fun!)” Concert goers will be treated to Truefaith’s biggest hit, the romantic ballad “Perfect” which first became a hit via radio station 99.5 RT, spreading like wildfire among local music stations and topping charts 25 years ago.

It is not just the music but also the company that has lured Cooky Chua, vocalist of Color It Red, whose greatest hit is the send-off anthem “Paglisan,” back to the stage — these days she works part time as a librarian with the NGO International Alert.

“I’m very excited to do the show since most of the [performers] are good friends. They are not only great artists, they are also kind-hearted people who are very generous with their talent. I can’t wait to jam with them,” she said.

“Hitbaaaaackk!!!” That was the reaction of former Yano and Pan vocalist Dong Abay, best known for his compositions “Banal na Aso, Santong Kabayo” and “Kamusta Na.” “Excited. Looking forward to the jamming and working together towards a vibrant Philippine Music,” he messaged BusinessWorld. The very prolific composer, who has, as he puts it, “only one begotten son, Awit,” is now with the Abay School of Songwriting (ASS) and Dong Abay Music Organization (DAMO).

Since the 1990s, The Dawn’s Jett Pangan has spread his wings, becoming, aside from a “proud dad,” a theater, film, and, of late, TV actor. Unlike many of the other bands from that era, The Dawn — whose hits include “Enveloped Ideas” and “Salamat” — is still active on the local music scene.

“The Dawn released around eight albums from 1987 to 1994. Apart from our own songs gaining ground during that period, we also witnessed other local bands break out with their own hits that resonate strongly to this day. With our band still actively performing, it is an honor and a privilege to make this ‘side trip’ of sharing the stage with some of the country’s greatest vocalists and musicians who helped create timeless songs an entire family can rock out to,” he told BusinessWorld.

“This get-together is rarer than a UFO sighting,” he declared.

Also joining the party-cum-concert is Robert Javier, guitarist and prolific composer of The Youth, which is best known for “Multo sa Paningin (Multong Bakla).”

Mr. Cornejo is feeling the pressure: apart from “wearing the performer hat,” he’s also the director, and scriptwriter of the show. Apparently, the concert will have a script that will not merely allow the band members to sing and perform in a coherent sequence, but will tell the story of the 1990s music scene.

Ms. Bautista admits to losing sleep over the forthcoming concert. “But don’t worry,” she told Mr. Cornejo via Messenger chat, “We, the artists are all here to support you and one another, too.”

“It’s gonna be a fun show,” promised Solaire Entertainment Director Audie Gemora.

For ticket reservations, contact TicketWorld at 891-9999.