‘90s icons TRUEFAITH and WENCY CORNEJO rock Vancouver by Mary Ann R. Mandap
Original Pilipino Music (OPM) disciples of all ages trooped to Edgewater Casino Thursday night to watch the Vancouver leg of the Truefaith and Wency Cornejo Valentine’s Day Canada 2014 Tour.
The mostly Filipino crowd were thrilled when after four hours of watching a parade of homegrown talents, Wency finally appeared – older, chubbier, probably with thinner hair (which remained concealed by a beret all night) but still with the pipes to carry on a solid performance. His opening number, “Mangarap Ka” (Dream), was one of the biggest hits of his now-defunct band, After Image. He followed this with “Magpakailanman,” a ballad made more popular by his mother, Mel Tiangco’s weekly anthology of the same name, featuring inspiring stories of celebrities and ordinary people who found success or lost it.
Wency was nursing a cold and had trouble hitting the high notes, but his distinct voice still resonated with the screaming crowd. He made up for this shortcoming with a lot of anecdotes, foremost of which was the undeserved attention he got for being mistaken for a relative of controversial model Deniece Cornejo. When somebody from the crowd shrieked, “I love you, Wency!” he quipped, “Maganda ka ba?” (are you beautiful?), to the crowd’s loud guffaws. Then he bombarded her with more questions: “More importantly, are you rich?”; “Are you Canadian?”. When the girl said she was divorced, he shot back: “How much is your alimony?!”
His two companions, Mark Velasco and Vic Nicolas’ phenomenal guitar playing was in full display too, particularly with Mark’s rendition of “Tao”. The trio wowed the crowd even more when they belted out a medley of Florante’s patriotic folk songs. For this number, Wency wore a jusi barong on top of his rocker outfit to make his Pinoy statement. But what really brought the house down was his finale, Next in Line, as the audience sang along with nostalgia.
When Truefaith soloist Medwin Marfil hit the first notes of “Alaala,” people flocked in front of the stage to dance and rock out. That set the tone for Truefaith’s frenetic set, while more and more people filled the dance floor until almost everyone was swaying to their music. The energy and vibe were so high throughout the night. A crazed fan even rushed onto the stage and sashayed with Medwin. She was eventually convinced to go down.
In keeping with the Valentine theme, Truefaith also played more laidback tunes like, “Muntik nang Maabot ang Langit,” a ballad which Piolo Pascual, Lani Misalucha, Basil Valdez even Victor Wood made remakes of, and the group’s first hit, “Huwag na Lang Kaya.” Bucking a “dry throat” that mildly rasped his voice, Medwin gamely soldiered on and rocked the house.
The hiccups are understandable because this was the group’s first-ever winter concert. They all had to adjust to sub-zero temperatures. One of them even had a slight misadventure and slipped on ice. Truefaith’s previous performance in Canada was in the spring of 2010. This time, they were warmed by the jam-packed reception everywhere they went. Lead guitarist Allan Elgar said, “Filipino-Canadians rock. We love how they appreciate original Filipino music.”
The band started in 1992 and has become one of the Philippines’ most popular pop groups, reaping various awards along the way. They have nine original albums or a total of 13, including compilations of their greatest hits.
Their version of Apo’s “Panalangin” was actually superfluous, given their repertoire of original hits. The high point for many was when they sang the eponymous Perfect. At past midnight, the concert had gone on for five hours, but people were pumped up and asking for more. Truefaith obliged with new wave hit, “I’ll Stop the World,” and that did it for the night.
Photos: Dahong Pilipino