It was in September 29, 2007 whenthe trio of Ebe Dancel (guitar-vocals), Jal Taguibao (bass), and KakaQuisumbing (drums) joined forces with The Manila Symphony Orchestra at theMusic Museum in Greenhills, San Juan to stage Sugarfree's first major concert.
Known for their string of hitssuch as "Mariposa," "Telepono," "Burn Out," "Prom," "Tulog Na," "Hari NgSablay," "Dear Kuya," "Wag Ka Nang Umiyak," and "Kung Ayaw Mo Na Sa Akin,"among others, Sugarfree no doubt was ripe for the picking to hold a bigconcert.
The band, however, opted toconduct things differently from the usual setup. Despite their proficiency andreputation as a solid hit making machine, the band candidly admitted that theystill feel insecure when it comes to their overall sound—a sentiment amplifiedeven more during the time the trio were preparing for the concert.
In an interview with PEP(Philippine Entertainment Portal) last year, Ebe confided how the band facedcertain limitations during live gigs because of their three-piece arrangement.While most bands are composed of four or even five members, Sugarfree opted tosettle for the modest guitar-bass-drums attack.
It's not really too much of aproblem as the band manages to compensate for whatever shortcomings by tweakingon their live sound and making some adjustments here and there. The band alsodeveloped a loyal fan base over the years and three albums after, Sugarfreesongs are well-known to most people that it is common to hear the crowd singingalong with Ebe, consequently taking the pressure off a bit from the talentedsinger-songwriter.
"But for a major concert wereally wanted to offer something new. Parang we find it boring kung the usualthree-piece set up lang na kami-kami ang nasa stage," shared Ebe.
INVITING THE MSO. Back in May 2005, Sugarfree performed an acousticset at the Hard Rock Café in Makati City. For the occasion, the band was joinedby a flutist, two violinists, a cellist, and a pianist. Later also that year,the pop-rock trio graced the second installment of Rockestra where they werejoined by the Manila Symphony Orchestra for the first time.
The seed then was planted.
Overwhelmed by their previousexperiences, the band decided to collaborate anew with the MSO for their firstmajor concert.
The preparations werepainstaking. Working with the MSO was not easy and the band found themselvesadjusting to the meticulous and disciplined approach of the orchestra unit. Itwas Chino David of the band Silent Sanctuary who led the MSO in going throughthe songs together with Ebe, Jal and Kaka.
As it turned out, embellishingSugarfree's songs with an ensemble only added lush to the band's alreadyheartwarming numbers—making the songs more poignant and warm.
Working behind the scene wasdirector Treb Montreras, who took care of directing the event documentation allthe way to the actual show. Esteemed producer, Angee Rozul of Tracks Studio, wasalso around to record the entire concert with his trusty multi-track audiorecording. Shari Villa weaved her lighting magic tocomplement the mood of the music.
SUGARFREE LIVE! Spurred by the success of the concert, EMIPhilippines re-lived the entire experience by releasing the album titled Sugarfree Live! with the Manila Symphony Orchestra.
The double-disc record crisplycaptured Sugarfree's performance as backed up by the Manila Symphony Orchestra.Playing in front of a jampacked crowd, the trio dished out their songs—from thepopular singles to some unreleased yet strong numbers—found on their previouslyreleased albums.
As expected the band performedfamiliar tunes like "Prom," "Hari Ng Sablay," "Kwarto," "Tulog Na," "Burnout,""Mariposa," "Kung Ayaw Mo Na Sa Akin," and "Dear Kuya."
But aside from delivering theexpected goods, Sugarfree also rendered some unexpected songs like those stillunreleased singles during the time of the concert. They also pulled off a coverof the Ben Folds Five ditty, "Still Fighting It."
Ebe, Jal and Kaka are one insaying that the concert was very special and they were all touched by theentire experience. In fact, all three admitted that they were close to tearsduring their performance with the MSO. "Buti na lang naka shades ako," wroteEbe on the album's dedication.
As a gift to the fans and also toshow their gratitude, Sugarfree and EMI Philippines decided to release therecord that is also intended to tide fans over until the trio wraps up theirsoon-to-be-released fourth album.
3. Hari Ng Sablay
7. Kung Ayaw Mo Na Sa Akin
8. Still Fighting It
9. Tulog Na
1. Huling Gabi
2. Unang Araw
3. Wag Ka Na Umiyak
4. Kailan Ka Ba?
5. Ikaw Pala
7. Makita Kang Muli
8. Batang-Bata Ka Pa
9. Dear Kuya