Wearing a brand new hairstyle, she announced to the crowd the Dubai performance was a special one
By David Tusing, Deputy tabloid! Editor Published: 12:03 March 3, 2012
Dubai: When I interviewed Filipino singing sensation Charice Pempengco a few days before her Dubai concert on Friday, I asked her if - despite her extraordinary voice (and boy, can the girl sing) - she has ever felt her being an Asian has ever gotten in the way of worldwide fame. After all, she has often been compared to Justin Bieber, who, like her, found fame on the internet. And who, along with her, was featured on Oprah Winfrey's Most Talented Kids before either of them launched their own international debut albums.
"I don't think it matters at all," Charice, as she is popularly known, had said. "All I care about is to sing, and sing from my heart."
The hundreds of fans, mostly Asian, who gathered at Al Badia Golf Club in Dubai Festival City on Friday will agree. When this girl sings, she sings from the heart.
Kicking off with her cover of the Usher/David Guetta hit ‘Without You' at little past 9:30pm, Charice, mostly in black, got every one on their feet. She followed it up quickly with the Jason Derulo-written ‘Lesson For Life' from her second international album Infinity, before doing an impressive mash-up of a Journey song, Faithfully, and Lady Gaga's Edge of Glory.
Wearing a brand new hairstyle, she announced to the crowd the Dubai performance was a special one. "This is the first stop on my Infinity Tour - and I really hope you enjoy the show. I love you pare (friend)."
The set-list was cleverly arranged to showcase her amazing vocal range - and to keep fans, who have known her from her covers of big ballads, entertained: A performance of her Billboard Top 10 hit ‘Pyramid' was followed by a rendition of Adele's ‘Someone Like You'. There was also Whitney Houston's ‘Saving All My Love' and a balladic version of Katy Perry's ‘The One That Got Away'.
There were also moments of vulnerability. Her fans know all too well how, as a young girl, Charice did the singing competition circuit in the Philippines, so support her single mother and brother.
"This one is for my father," she said at one point, as she launched into Eric Clapton's classic ‘Tears in Heaven", in memory of her estranged dad who was recently murdered. "I know he is watching right now."
But she didn't wallow in self-pity.
After a brief break and a costume change, she winked at the audience and said: "I want to turn on the sexy mood," before adding: "Don't worry, I'm not taking off my clothes."
Her version of Chris Brown's Take You Down followed.
"That was fun," she said after the song and the cheers had died down. "I don't want it to be serious concert. I want you to have fun. I'm your sister, I'm your daughter and your friend. You are like a family to me and I feel proud to be singing in front of you."
Between gags in Tagalog and sharing jokes about how she forces her band to eat Filipino food, Charice launched into a Tagalog classic ‘Ikaw' (You) to deafening cheers.
Other songs from her Infinity album ‘Before it Explodes' (written by Bruno Mars) and Lighthouse (written by Natasha Bedingfield) were highlights.
But the most special of all was the song Charice chose to close her hour-and-a-half show: I Will Always Love You. For someone who found fame singing Houston's songs on YouTube, it was only fitting to hear Charice honour her idol - and that too without a note out of place. While Houston's greatness can never be replaced, it was comforting to see that, in some way, the torch has been successfully passed on.