Leah Salterio

SB19’s Stell’s steals limelight from David Foster

June 19, 2024 Leah C. Salterio 191 views
SB19’s Stell (Ajero) impressed audience in David Foster’s concert

WHEN the front act in a concert got more applauded than the main act, that meant something. That was what happened in Hitman, the sold-out concert of David Foster and Friends, Tuesday night at the Araneta Coliseum.

We didn’t think the main act really minded. When SB19’s Stell (Ajero) sauntered onstage and started singing Adele’s ‘All I Ask,’ rendered in his admirable, stratospheric voice, the audience started shrieking and screaming.

“Magpapakilala muna po ako,” said Stell, as he humbly introduced himself to the full-house audience who apparently already knew him already. The singer of SB19 is no longer a stranger to the crowd. They knew him.

Stell also rendered his debut solo single, ‘Room,’ followed by ‘Defying Gravity.’ He promoted his concert, ‘JulieXStell: Ang Ating Tinig,’ which will happen July 27 at the New Frontier Theater, to be directed by Paolo Valenciano. Stell is also slated to leave for the US next month.

“Stell is incredible,” remarked David once the multi-awarded songwriter emerged onstage to start his Manila concert, a part of his 2024 concert tour.

Manila couldn’t seem to have enough of David. He was just here last year, when he did a successful concert at Solaire. This time, David performed in a bigger venue, Araneta Coliseum.

He opened the set list with the popular Winter Games then rendered St. Elmo’s Fire, with Kenny Rankin playing the saxophone on video.

David subsequently introduced two, young Filipino talents – JB Decena and Joaquin Garcia – who performed David’s hit compositions. JB belted out ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water,’ previously sang by crooner Josh Groban, while Joaquin gave the audience ‘Broken Vow.’

The group All for One, delighted the crowd with their hits, especially their biggest, ‘I Swear.’ It has been a while since the popular group performed in Manila, the last one being in 2015.

All for One, which became known globally three decades ago, was so delighted to be back and performed anew for Filipino fans.

David’s better half and erstwhile American Idol alumna, ‘Katharine McPhee,’ gave the audience Celine Dion’s ‘Power of Love.’ For a second, the audience got thrilled when they heard Celine Dion.

However, David was quick to point out, “You are not getting Celine Dion tonight. You didn’t pay for a Celine Dion.”

David and Katharine met nearly two decades ago in American Idol. They toured the world together until they tied the knot in 2019. They now have a son who is turning three this year.

Her second time in Manila, Katharine delighted the audience with her 2010 hit, ‘Terrified.’ “I know how it feels to be Taylor Swift,” she excitedly told the crowd.

She also belted out Whitney Houston’s hits – ‘I Have Nothing’ and ‘I Will Always Love You’ – which David also wrote and earned him an Oscar nomination.

“I was nominated for an Oscar thrice, but I never got to bring home the trophy,” David lamented. ‘Take My Breath Away’ from ‘Top Gun’ (1986) competed and won against David’s ‘Glory of Love’ from Karate Kid.

David also reminded how in 1978, he was instructed to write Donna Summer’s ‘Last Dance’ from the film, ‘Thank God, It’s Friday.’

“The song should start slow, then it should go fast, then go slow again,” he shared. “That was the most stupid thing I heard.”

Katharine went down onstage and reached out to the audience to deliver ‘Last Dance.’

Stell returned onstage and impressed the audience even more when he sang Celine Dion’s ‘All By Myself,’ with his impressive vocal calisthenics, that sent the audience screaming.

“You must not forget, it’s called the David Foster show,” the main act smilingly reminded his audience. But Stell undoubtedly brought the house down with Celine Dion’s All By Myself.

Brian McKnight joined David onstage and gave the audience the late Al Jarreau’s ‘Morning,’ which David wrote for the late R&B icon. Brian also rendered one of David’s early compositions, After the Love Has Gone, for Earth, Wind and Fire.

Naturally, Brian also rendered his biggest hits – One Last Cry, Back at One – where he was allowed by David to take on the keyboards.

“I yield to Mr. Brian McNight,” David gave the music floor to Brian.

The show ended with all the guest artists joining David onstage and they gave the audience ‘To Be Real,’ a song by Toto’s David Paich. But David returned for his encore, a recent musical composition he wrote during the pandemic.