The 2000’s nostalgia was strong last July 13, 2019 as American singer-songwriter Jesse McCartney played his first show in Manila, fifteen years after his phenomenal hit “Beautiful Soul” came out in 2004.
The intimate concert at New Frontier Theatre, Quezon City made the rounds of his previous albums: Beautiful Soul, Right Where You Want Me, and Departure. (No songs from his latest album, In Technicolor, made it onto the Manila setlist.) Jesse also played two new songs – “Selfless” and “Soul” – that he’s planning to put on an album very soon (hopefully late this year or early next).
If you’re one of the Jmac fans who missed your chance at his first concert, here are 8 songs you can play to bring it back to 2005!
She’s No You
The concert opens with the first song off his first album, “She’s No You”. When he hits the stage, you immediately see Jesse McCartney is an unostentatious performer. The show features only Jesse singing on track or with a keyboard, accompanied by his long-time guitarist, Dory Lobel. There’s no band, no choreographed dance breaks, and no theatrical backdrops.
That’s not to say he wasn’t a charismatic presence onstage! The cornerstone of the entire show is Jesse’s voice, which handled runs, note changes, and shifts from high notes to low notes as smoothly as rich cream. And of course, he was just as happy to engage the crowd with stories in between numbers, and to happily give over the choruses of his popular songs to the enthusiastic Manila audience.
No matter the era, Jesse McCartney’s albums tend to be filled with a mix of slow, romantic ballads and get-up-and-dance songs. “Leavin’” is a fan favourite from the second category! This song, which flipped Jesse from bubbly boyband star to sexy R&B artist, had everyone out of their seats and yelling “That thing you got behind you is amazing!”
Numbers like “Leavin’” also allowed Jesse to bust out his dance moves. Nothing fancy, but still – how anybody manages to sustain notes while spinning and pivoting from one end of the stage to the other is a trick JMac has down pat.
How Do You Sleep
Considering he has been in the ‘biz for decades and has only just visited Manila, it was fair for Jesse to introduce some of his songs by asking the crowd, “This one, do you remember this one?”
Every time, there would be this general vibe of, “OH, TRY US.”
In any case, when this challenge was answered by a thundering sing-along to his 2008 electropop-slash-R&B hit “How Do You Sleep”, it was safe to say Manila fans were not sleeping on that one!
Just So You Know
“Just So You Know” is an iconic heartbreak anthem for millennials during their teenhood. If you were in the crowd, there’s no way you couldn’t have played back the soul-crushing memories of watching the person you loved in high school walk away with someone else, underscored by Jesse’s voice in all its raw, stripped glory.
The song was part of his acoustic segment, along with a medley of “Anybody” plus “Because You Live”, and a piano version of “Bleeding Love”.
The Stupid Things
Pulling a lucky girl from the audience and dedicating a slow song to her on stage is a staple at any Jesse McCartney show.
In his Manila concert, Jesse asked up a lucky girl – who happened to be wearing a white shirt with the words “Beautiful Soul” on it – and dedicated the plaintive and emotional “The Stupid Things” to her. This was by far the quietest number of the evening, as the crowd caught their breath and said lucky, lucky girl had her moment.
At the end, Jesse asked the crowd, “How’re we feeling?” It was all we could do not to say “Jealous as all hell!” (Just kidding, girl, we’re all really happy for you!)
Better With You
Jesse has been vocal about the fact that after his long break between 2018 and his last album (In Technicolor, 2014), he wasn’t sure if he would still be able to connect with fans.
During this hiatus, he spent time in a songwriting camp in Nashville. Here, he was inspired to create new music influenced by the simple productions and honest songwriting characteristic of country music. One such record is his comeback hit, “Better With You”, a song about finding a lover who anchors you in today’s turbulent times.
Taking the song out on the road, Jesse has said over and over again how pleasantly surprised and humbled he is that his return was welcomed so warmly by fans. The Manila audience fervently waving flashlights and cellphones in the air during this number was no exception.
Jesse last song “Wasted”, his most recent track about someone you really like but who only calls you when they’re high and wasted. He joked, “We should go out and party after the show. Who’s coming with me?” The light, dancey tune was, according to Jesse, “perfect for a Saturday night”, and the perfect way to end the night on a feel-good note.
(Sadly, there would be no partying and getting wasted with Jesse McCartney for anyone, as he had to be up bright and early the next morning for his flight to Singapore, the last stop of his Asian tour!)
Jesse walked off the stage after his hour-long set, leaving fans wanting more – and feeling like he must have overlooked something monumental! Ever the comedian, Jesse came back out a few seconds later to ear-splitting screams and asked, “I’m sorry, are you guys not finished yet? Did we forget something?”
As he ended his first visit here with an encore of his eternal classic “Beautiful Soul”, Jesse cemented the fact that Manila fans do, in fact, don’t want another pretty face or just anyone to hold – we want Jesse McCartney and his particular beautiful soul.
Were you able to watch this? Tell us about your experience below!