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Ben&Ben’s Homecoming Concert | There’s No Place Like Home


Garnering a massive crowd of 65,000 and making this concert their biggest show so far, twin brothers Miguel and Paolo, Poch, Keifer, Andrew, Toni, Pat, Agnes, and Jam proved that they are undoubtedly the biggest OPM band right now, with Ben&Ben’s Homecoming Concert last December 18, 2022, at SMDC Festival Grounds.

                                                     


The novenary Filipino folk-pop act who successfully finished their North American tour expressed that they wanted to mount their largest show, with the longest set and most ambiguous performance ideas by simply performing the best hits they’ve made throughout the years as a gratitude to the Ben&Ben fans or otherwise known as “LIWANAG” who has supported them since day 1.

Despite the series of haps, whether it was a storm that caused the delay of their supposed to send off, or the happenings during the concert itself that caused quite an uproar, we cannot deny the monumental event that took place,


A Gentle Serenade

                                                    

                 

Clara Benin, a Filipina singer-songwriter was the opening act, immediately putting the crowd in a trance with her first song blink, a single she released in 2021. Wine was the next song she played, a fan favorite that the singer had multiple renditions of over the years and is included in her third EP fragments, which featured Charlie Lim in one of the versions. Of course, Clara has to include her biggest hit Parallel Universe


An Explosive Start



After playing a montage of their North American Tour, the band started the set with an explosive song and one of their latest singles, Langyang Pag-Ibig, poised to be a classic with the crowd already knowing the lyrics by heart as it is hard-hitting in the feels like most of their songs. They went off ahead and sang Pagtingin, a song from their first album, and played the song a little faster than its original pace, matching the energy of the crowd. Hyping up the crowd, even more, Ben&Ben played Upuan, a song from their sophomore album Pebble House: Vol. 1: Kuwaderno.














Slowing down a bit and singing the first English song for the night, Maybe the Night hailed the festival grounds, bringing nostalgia as it's one of their earliest singles. Setting the slow pace portion of the first set, Comets is a crowd favorite albeit it is an unreleased song that serenaded the LIWANAGs, a heart-wrenching song about love. Previously only performing the song as an "unreleased track", Ben&Ben released the song Dear this November and included it in the setlist a beautiful crowd welcomed it with the lights the fans raised as the song hummed the grounds.

Closing in the first set is one of their biggest hits, the hard-hitting song Sa Susunod na Habang Buhay with the crowd singing along with every lyric sang.

A pleasant mix of performances followed the second set with Andrew and Toni leading it who are usually on percussions, singing the song Pasalubong that featured Moira Dela Torre from their second album. Andrew was on an acoustic guitar singing along with Toni who sang Moira's parts. This was followed by Agnes on bass who showed off her skills for a solo portion.

With the bass slowly easing into the festive season, the band did a medley of some of their Christmas songs, Ilang Tulog Nalang and Bibingka (showing a snowy illusion with bubbles spreading throughout the grounds). They gave the Liwanag a pleasant surprise by giving out Ben&Ben merchandise despite the drizzle. Nothing stopped them from approaching the fans and giving them high fives while they all prepared for the next song.


After this, they covered Make It With You, originally sung by Bread in the 70s.

The songs that followed are all portions to which the fans can relate to are Magpahinga, Sugat (both from their sophomore album), the popular The Ones We Once Loved which is a quietly startling confession written by Ben&Ben’s very own Paolo Benjamin made it's presence in the setlist and capped the second set with Leaves.

The third set started with all the songs they released for all the advocacies and awareness the band is rallying. With Keifer, their resident violinist showing off an impressive intermission eased the powerful song KAPANGYARIHAN that jabbed on the injustices and corruption the Philippines is facing, a song originally featured the Filipino Pop Group, SB19. KZ Tandingan made an appearance and sang SABEL with the band that takes a stand on feminism. And finally ushered out the two special guests, Zild and juan karlos, together they sang LUNOD which tackles mental health and the stigma around it.

"Para sa lahat ng pagkakataon na sinabi na 'sayang maganda/pogi ka pero….'" the front man said. "Ngayong gabi, ngayon ang pagkakataon para sabihin sa sarili, 'TANGGAP KITA! MAHAL KITA!" And released balloons to the crowd for a celebration of self-love with the song Di Ka Sayang.

Migs soon after went on his acoustic solo and everyone in the band had a chance to shine with their instrument of expertise through the song Doors, with Keif singing.

After, the band ensued their most beloved and most played song with more than 200,000,000+ plays on Spotify, Kathang Isip, where the ensemble asked the LIWANAGs to sing the song along. Closing in the night (of course not really), Ben&Ben performed Ride Home, a fitting song for the Homecoming concert concept. The band then bid the crowd a brief goodbye before diving into the encore.

MAHIWAGA

A moment of silence on stage but a continuous chant from the crowd who doesn't want to let go of the band yet without singing one of the most awaited songs of the night, the stage lit and welcomed the band surprising the fans and performing an unreleased song called Dahilan (when is the Spotify release Ben&Ben?) and Fall from their first album Limasawa Street but with a little twist as its an extended version.

And finally, Araw-Araw graces the stage with the LIWANAGs singing at top of their lungs, spotting a few tears and sentimental moments in the crowd, capping the night officially with a fireworks display and the band taking a picture of the crowd to commemorate the momentous event.


Paninindigan Kita

Even before the concert started, the fans already voiced out grievances to the organizers who failed to meet the expectations of the fans, especially as the event has been postponed already because of a typhoon. The band, who has an obvious unbreakable bond with the LIWANAGs, issued an apology and a promise of vigilance to everyone who will be involved in the band's future endeavors and performances.

"We hear you. We feel your pain, frustration, and anger." The band said in a statement on their official Instagram. "We know that you have given so much to be able to attend our concert."

The 9-member group's relationship with the LIWANAG has always been founded by genuine connection and relatedness. And while the in-between moments of the concert were special, some factors have happened and should have been avoided. With this, the band emphasizes that their fans deserve only the best and while they cannot undo the pain that the fans have been through, one of the group's promises is to help make things right moving forward.

"Every song we sang was for all of you." They expressed.

Ovation Productions released a statement after the band did theirs and issued an apology that recognizes that at the end of the day, LIWANAG is the one who was inconvenienced and will do better next time.

A lot of fans on Twitter expressed that it's not the band's fault despite the apology and consoled them that the night with them was an unforgettable experience.

Indeed an unforgettable experience with Ben&Ben, promising more gut-punching music that keeps the LIWANAGs shining brightly, in the hopes of healing, forgiveness, acceptance, and celebration of love and self-love through the music the band continuously shares.

Words by Arielle Elep

Photos by Randall Viloria 






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