Glam fashion, classic and contemporary hits, grand production design, awesome performances, and a glitzy line-up of guests sums up Pops Fernandez's Divalicious concert held at the Araneta Coliseum last Saturday, December 8.
The Concert Queen's loyal fans from the U.S., Middle East, Metro Manila and nearby provinces trooped to the Big Dome to celebrate their idols' silver anniversary. Over 34 songs—1980's retro pieces, R & B numbers, hits of Madonna, Motown, Bacharach—comprised the repertoire of Pops.
She also performed the acoustic version of her own singles, "Just Say You Love Me," "Don't Say Goodbye," and "Kaya Pala."
The Concert Queen shared the stage with Megastar Sharon Cuneta, and then with Mr. Pure Energy Gary Valenciano, for the first time ever.
Sharon and Pops, who were both discovered by Tito Sotto, sang "Say A Little Prayer," "I'll Never Fall in Love," "Make It Easy On Yourself," and "That's What friends Are For," while making adlibs about their heartaches and friendship. The medley number was both touching and entertaining.
The "You're My Everything" duet of Gary V. and Pops was fused with a passionate flamengo dance. After their powerful number, Pops asked her partner, "Bakit ngayon lang tayo nagkasama sa stage?" Gary quipped, "E, kasi kapag Concert Queen ka, siyempre may Concert King ka. E, ako Mr. Pure Energy lang." The crowd roared with laughter.
Pops also gave the audience a glimpse of her highly successful concert series in the U.S. with Kuh Ledesma this year. The two rendered a Motown medley.
To show her versatility, the Concert Queen shared the stage with Jay-R and Kris Lawrence. The three wards of talent manager Arnold Vegafria delighted the younger crowd by singing Sean Kingston's and Jojo's versions of "Beautiful Girls."
The other talents of Pops's manager—Iya Villania, Cheska Garcia, Bianca King, Patrick Garcia, Luis Alandy, Jeffrey Hidalgo, Doug Kramer, Marco Alcaraz, and John Prats—also had their roles in the show.
Of course, the Concert Queen's 25 years in showbiz will not be complete without mentioning the name of her ex-husband and Concert King, Martin Nievera. The latter had a show at the SM Mall of Asia that same night.
The portion she dubbed as "Duets No More" featured all-time duet favorites— "Almost Paradise, Tonight I Celebrate My Love For You," "With You, I'm Born Again," and "Maybe"—which she and Martin sang during their Penthouse Live! days. Pops exclaimed, "Kaya naman pala, e, [kantahin mag-isa]."
Fashionistas flocked to the big event to see the 15 costume changes and variations of Pipay, as some showbiz friends call the host-actress-performer. Some portions of the concert had fashion show segments—with models Isabel Roces, Ornusa Cadness, Nicolette Bell, Valerie Santos, Raya Manaquil, to name a few—parading the creations of local designers Rajo Laurel, Frederick Peralta, Randy Ortiz, Mitch Dulce, Maxi Cinco, Derric Hibaler, Dennis Celestial, Avel Bacudio, Ivarluski Aseron, Joey Samson, Puey Quinones, Janes Reyes, Lyle Ybañez, and Patrice Ramos-Diaz.
As expected, the concert of Maria Cielito Lucban Fernandez, Pops's real name in showbiz, was star-studded. The Barretto sisters were there. The Gomez family also came. Ruffa Gutierrez, Vina Morales, and Dawn Zulueta were spotted. Mother Lily Monteverde and daughter Roselle were also present. And Pops's boyfriend Jomari Yllana was seated right in the middle of the front row.
There were also cry moments for the Concert Queen. Though she described her concert as a "party," she couldn't prevent her tears from falling when she sang "Dito," a song she dedicated to her dad, the late Eddie Fernandez; when she performed Jim Brickman's "The Gift" with her "heroes" Ram and Robin; and when she rendered Karen Carpenter's "A Song For You," which she dedicated to the fans and the people she worked with," and Grace Jones's "What I Did for Love," which she sang for her mom Dulce Lukban.
For the encore, she had an upbeat number of songs from the ‘80s to the present. This time, even the passive crowd in the patrons' area danced with her.
All throughout, Pops was bursting with energy, in top form, and undoubtedly, is still the reigning Concert Queen. The show started late, but it was definitely worth the one-hour wait.