It was the one everyone was waiting for. It took ages to organize and it seemed like ages before we got in and even longer before the concert started. But when it did--with the fab four appearing seemingly from thin air--with Alapaap, the decibel level at the open field went from deafening to ear-drum shattering.
Raimund was right--the band was cooking. They sounded better than ever. Ely's voice was strong, Raimund pounded the skins and kept the beat steady;Marcus was the taciturn axeman and Buddy was the smiling rhythm keeper.
For about an hour and fifteen songs deep, it looked like this was going down in history as among the best concerts and the reunion that did not disappoint until the last song.
Going into the last few notes, it seemed something was off; then Ely sat down as the song ended. A 20-minute intermission was announced and everyone started rattling off songs they expected to be played during the second set--El Bimbo, Overdrive, Julie tearjerky, Pare Ko, Tuwing Umuulan at Kapiling Ka,among many others.
When the 20 minutes became about 30, people started getting restless and then the three appeared onstage, with a woman and several others.That's when Buddy introduced Ely's sister who broke the news-- Ely would not come out anymore, he had to be rushed to the hospital. Amidst a stunned silence,and people half hoping it was a joke, Raimund confirmed it and introduced the organizer who also confirmed it, asked for calm and order and asked for a one minute prayer in silence.
Then it sank in.It was over.
The reunion no one thought would ever happen happened, but was over--in one hour. Ely would not come out for the second set. People, in silence, started shuffling out in disbelief.
While walking to the parking area, we could hear cars with speakers blaring the songs of the 'Heads,as if in tribute and thanksgiving to the band that made a great difference in pop culture and influenced a whole new generation of musicians.
Part of me was hoping it was a joke but when Buddy and Raimund confirmed it, I knew it wasn't.
As Jam said in his post, maybe it was fatigue, maybe it was emotions,maybe it was grief at the loss of a loved one(his mother passed away on Thursday),but Ely Buendia, he of the pop hooks and the astonishingly intuitive and perceptive lyrics, played his heart out tonight. And even if that heart was probably broken, it didn't show.
Many of us were screaming "group hug"to the four who were obviously not talking to each other; they did not oblige. But when the news of Ely's condition came, the remaining three took the stage as one. It was like the group hug that never was.
Ely, get well soon. If tonight has shown one thing: it is that the 'Heads still make a difference and that the four of you are loved. I know because my ears are still ringing and my hands are still sore. Get well soon, there are unfinished symphonies yet to be played.