Words by Joey Dizon | Photos by Franco Panopio
While there are certain momentous occasions that shouldn’t be touched, repeated and simply left as great memories, every now and then, there are events just begging for an update and upgrade… sometimes, it just makes sense.
Case in point: Wolfgang’s Acoustica vinyl launch. 23 years after the famed concert was released on compact disc and VCD (remember those?!!), fans proved to be as rabidly loyal as ever as they packed the famed 12 Monkeys Music Hall & Pub and immediately grabbed up merch and wasted no time in grabbing all the copies of the vinyl, released by Backspacer Records way before surviving members Basti Artadi and Manuel Legarda hit the stage. Drinks were flowing and the vibe of the entire evening was simply incendiary… as this would be the closest the band could offer as a proper farewell show, given the circumstance of bassist Mon Legaspi’s sad passing last year and original drummer Wolf Gemora being permanently based in the United States.
Joining Artadi and Legarda was a fine cast of musicians: longtime cohort and power-skinsman Francis Aquino (also of RAZORBACK fame…), Razorback bassist Marco Cuneta, keyboardist Kim Lopez (of TRINIDAD), violinist/singer Princess Ybañez (also of all female band ROUGE) all brought the right stuff, as the group provided exciting new arrangements of the original repertoire: an epic piano solo that gave way to show opener “Center of the Sun,” and an impressive first half of “Bought and Sold,” “24,” “Anino,” a saxed-up version of “Darkness Fell” which was highlighted by the blazingly talented Archie Lacorte, and the vintage “As Oceans” and a personal favorite “Love & Despair,” which ended in balls-out-heavy-as-shit fashion.
After a breather for both musicians and members of the audience to drink and light up, the group soon returned to the stage for the second set, which included a soaring duet of Artadi and Ybañez on “Matter of Time,” the epic “Atomica,” crowd-anthem “Mata Ng Diyos,” and the groundbreaking classic “Halik Ni Hudas. Saxophonist Lacorte returned and kept the sound peaking and Razorback vocalist and longtime ally Kevin Roy even joined-in on the fun. “Aquarius” and “Very Free” winded down the set, but the howls and cheers were non-stop all throughout the evening.
“The very first Acoustica back in 2000 was awesome in so many ways – from rehearsals to the show itself,” Legarda shared, when asked what made the original production so memorable. “What stood out for me the most back then was the roar of the crowd at the start of the show: when we transitioned from the choir to the opener ‘Center of the Sun…’ it definitely set the mood for the night,” he continued. “And this 2023 show was also special in more ways than one: ‘Love and Despair” is one of my favorite moments that showcased the multiple textures to compliment the dynamics of the song – I love the keys and the sax on that song! And the surprise was Archie’s impromptu jam – it was spur-of-the-moment thing that was super fun.”
When asked about his final thoughts on the evening, Legarda commented: “We’ve been around on and off, for about thirty years and it amazes me when people still come to see us perform – the fact that they enjoy us enough to come out and see us is awesome…” said the iconic guitarist, and continued: “That’s what made the show special; and we were so fortunate to have the lovely Princess on violin, Kim on keys and Archie on sax… they were all awesome and did a great job in helping us take the songs to new avenues – it was really a unique show. So I’m actually hoping that, if schedules permit, we can maybe do a few more shows.” PULP