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Sincere and authentic

Moira in Winnipeg

by Jon G. Malek

MOIRA 1On March 25, 2023, Moira took to the stage at the Canada Life Centre to cap off a night of amazing performances. Her 2023 tour, set during the release of her new album, started on February 2 at the Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City. The tour has already brought her through a Middle Eastern and United States leg, and will end in Canada on April 1 in Calgary.

The show was organized by ACC Events and Services whose skilled and capable members, led by Alex Canlapan, recently brought in Kamikazee. The entire night was one success after another, with excellent acts that were boosted by an excellent sound system and light show.

The night began with Winnipeg’s gem Jovelle Balani, followed by the On the Que band. Next, Star Music’s Zachary Ignacio sang Ulan by Regine Velazquez. Zachary is the daughter of former Alamid drummer, Gail Ignacio, who recently moved to Winnipeg.

Next, Zephanie Dimaranan opened her act with a high intensity dance performance. Zephanie gained fame after winning the first season of Idol Philippines in 2019. Her range of skill came through her act as she transitioned into well executed covers of Celine Dion’s It’s All Coming Back to Me Now and Mariah Carey’s Through the Rain. Dion and Carey, two of the most talented artists in modern music history, are not easy to duplicate, and her ability to hit the high points of each song is a testament to her range. Zephanie’s love for music and performing was palpable throughout her set, and, seeing the joy in her eyes, I could not help but think I was watching someone living their dream.

Afterward, T.J. Monterde took the stage and played a set that brought many in the crowd into a state of kinikilig. After Monterde’s performance, the lights went down, and the anticipation built. It was Moira’s time.

Waiting in darkness, seeing shapes and shadows move across stage, the first rows struggled to spot Moira. The music started and we could hear her voice singing in her soothing yet powerful voice. Her singing was so on key it sounded at first like it was from her recorded album. As she sang, suspense built amongst us in the crowd. She got the crowd whipped up, asking where is she or where is she going to enter the stage? When she came on stage, her white outfit shimmered in the dim lighting making her look like an angel in the darkness. As good as the concert had already been, there was a sense that the show was about to begin.

I’ve been to many concerts from a range of different musical genres, and none have been so raw, with emotion so real, as Moira’s performance. When Beyoncé and Jay Z came through Winnipeg on tour nearly ten years ago, it was amidst rumours that he had cheated on her. The entire concert was built on that theme. Beyoncé first entered the stage with Jay Z in an outfit that stifled her as if she were repressed in the relationship; at the end of the concert, the couple came out again, but this time she walked with confidence and freedom. Behind her, a screen read “The Truth.” Clearly, it was meant to dispel rumours of their marital discord. The whole affair was so well rehearsed and performed – and quite frankly, insincere – that I was convinced those rumours of cheating by Jay Z were only a marketing ploy to draw people to their show. My reaction to Moira was the opposite of this.

Those who know the story of Moira’s life recently know how much tumult and pain she’s endured, both privately and in the public eye. Instead of hiding it, she bore that hurt for all to see. Instead of smoothing out that pain in well-rehearsed lyrics, she brought us into what she referred to as the closing of a book in her life. Not a chapter, but a book. Moira took the audience into her pain, and she didn’t do it because she wanted sympathy, she didn’t do it because she wanted to get the crowd on her side. She did it because she wanted everyone to know that, by experiencing her own pain, Moira saw the pain of everyone else. “We all bear our own pain,” she said, “And I want you to know that I see it.” Moira’s entire set was such an incredible display of humanity, of compassion, and of love for those she had never met, that no question was left about her authenticity.

Every single artist I’ve seen in Winnipeg has said how great Winnipeg is, how awesome the crowd is, and how they can’t wait to come back. Personally, I don’t usually buy it, and that’s okay because I know bands have to tour and sweeten up a crowd to survive in a hard business. But, once again, Moira’s sincerity struck me. When she said she loved Winnipeg, I believed it. By the tone of her voice, and the look on her face, we could tell that Moira was experiencing emotions that were raw and honest. Moira’s pain is well known and instead of side-stepping or avoiding it, she brought it out for all to see. She told us how the last few months have been hard on her – that the book was closing – and that she had been stressing as she prayed to God to know what was to come. But, she said, her experience in Winnipeg showed her that it was okay she didn’t know.

Moira admitted that, of all the Canadian cities her tour would bring her, she knew nothing about Winnipeg. She said it was the same as not knowing what to expect next in her life. But she had a startling realization. Coming to Winnipeg, she had no idea what to expect, and in a way, this made her more receptive to the experience. She was amazed by the Northern Lights, which blazed with such intensity that the sky was consumed by it. Her social media post about that encounter read, “how do you even process this?” Her social media also has her close encounter with a polar bear at the Assiniboine Zoo. The lesson she shared with us at Canada Life Centre is that she didn’t know what Winnipeg would bring, but those experiences would be life changing. So, how could she fear what her next book in life would contain? She shared that “God answered so many of my prayers while I was here [in Winnipeg].” When she started her set, she said, “We’re only getting started but, of the whole tour, you guys are my favourite.” As the show progressed, as she let us into her hurt through her music, she told us that, “I’m not joking, I’m glad I met you guys.” This was the most honest, raw, and intimate performance I’ve ever been to, and I know that I will be processing this experience for a while.

The other great part of the concert was the fans. There was such a great connection between all the artists and the crowd, but it was strongest with Moira. As she told of her pain, as she told of how she had been filled with so much doubt, the crowd would call back to her, sharing their support and love for her.

A great concert is one that is more than the individual sets combined, it is an entire experience. It is something that changes you in some way, a single moment that progresses with each performance. Congratulations to ACC Events and Services, to each of the performers, and to every fan in attendance for a great concert.

Oh, and Happy Birthday, Ate Gloria. (If you know, you know.)