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03/11/12 - Philippine Daily Inquirer - New Charice looks tough, tomboyish but is more soulful Vipird10

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03/11/12 - Philippine Daily Inquirer - New Charice looks tough, tomboyish but is more soulful

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***Same article in Sunday's Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper***
New Charice looks tough, tomboyish but is more soulful
By: Pocholo Concepcion
Philippine Daily Inquirer
March 11, 2012 | 7:30 pm

03/11/12 - Philippine Daily Inquirer - New Charice looks tough, tomboyish but is more soulful Charice-Pempengco-300x175
NEXT LEVEL: Charice, with bassist Lance Talbert and guitarist Chris Wrate behind her, now sings with a more exciting R&B edge. PHOTOS BY GEOFFREY YUSOONCHO

Charice’s seven-city Asian tour to promote her new album “Infinity” (Warner Music) landed in Manila Friday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. The pint-sized dynamo created quite a stir with the way she sounded—and looked.

She has lost her femininity, gasped an audience member, and a few others expressed similar disapproval of the tomboyish blond-dyed hair, white tee and black leather vest, fancy gloves, ripped tight jeans and 14-eyelet Doc Martens boots.

A friend said Charice was just going for the animé look because she’s currently hot property in Japan. Whatever, it was her voice that made the bigger difference.

Opening with Kanye West’s “All of the Lights,” Charice—accompanied by her touring band of four equally young musicians—seemed to have boosted her pipes with a more exciting R&B edge. Apparently, she would not have herself boxed in as the best “biritera” in these parts, wisely exploring other pop styles like the dance rhythms in another cover, David Guetta’s “Without You,” as well as “Lesson for Life,” from “Infinity.”

Another surprise

She delivered another surprise with Journey’s “Faithfully,” as her guitarist Chris Wrate flew off with a hot solo—on his knees.

Keyboardist Troy Laureta, also the tour’s musical director, took over as Charice left the stage after two more numbers. He impressed us with a seamless medley of John Legend (“Ordinary People”), Stevie Wonder (“My Cherie Amour”) and the standard, “The Way You Look Tonight,” Michael Bublé style.

When Charice returned, ditching her motorcycle gang outfit for a sedate white blazer, the mood turned somber: She channeled old-school soul via Adele’s “Someone Like You.” Her version of Whitney Houston’s “Saving All My Love” was deeply moving.

03/11/12 - Philippine Daily Inquirer - New Charice looks tough, tomboyish but is more soulful Iyaz-300x175
GUEST performer Iyaz

Charice has clearly gained the confidence to deconstruct songs to her liking. For instance, she turned Katy Perry’s “The One that Got Away” into a ballad. Buoyed by the warm reception, she did a few bars of Justin Bieber’s “Baby” in a similarly slow tempo.

We were caught off-guard by the next tune, Eric Clapton’s “Tears in Heaven,” which she asked the crowd to sing along to—in memory of her recently departed dad. She was particularly awe-inspiring here, quite perfect in her phrasing, especially in the pivotal lines, “’Cause I know, I don’t belong here in heaven.”

Her fans, led by the “Chasters,” went wild during the Michael Jackson routine. The Bruno Mars medley was a foil to the stunning next number featuring guest singer Iyaz, who joined Charice in their Billboard hit, “Pyramid.” The British Virgin Islands native then took the spotlight with three of his own hits—“Solo,” “Pretty Girls” and “Replay.”

03/11/12 - Philippine Daily Inquirer - New Charice looks tough, tomboyish but is more soulful Charice-300x175
‘MOVES like Jagger’ (from left): Makisig Morales, Kyle Balili, Sam Concepcion, Charice, Gian Barbarona and Rhap Salazar

Charice’s “Little Big Star” colleagues—Makisig Morales, Kyle Balili, Sam Concepcion, Gian Barbarona and Rhap Salazar—turned up for a production number. Their energy and choice of song, Maroon 5’s “Moves Like Jagger,” was a head-turner for us, never mind that they sang minus-one.

Before the show ended, Charice explained her new look. She had been inspired, she said, by the tough female character Lightning in the video game “Final Fantasy XIII,” which features one of her songs, “New World.”

She can try whatever image strikes her fancy, really. All we care about is how she would take her music to the next level.

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