If there are two things that Filipinos love about their musicians, it’s a great set of vocal pipes and songs that were composed and written from the heart. 

For her first time in Manila, Sabrina Claudio gave her Filipino fans all that without exerting any effort –delivering an intimate series of performances that made us feel closer to her (both physically and emotionally) than ever.


Iya Forbes/Insignia Presents

This all happened on October 5, a rainy and random Tuesday early on into the month. One would have thought that the torrential downpour would have put off concert-goers from pulling through, but by the time Claudio came onto the stage, SM Aura’s Samsung Hall was suddenly packed from front to back.

Though the show’s official guidelines stated that doors opened at 7 PM, as early as 4 PM, the lines were building up from all the way outside of the venue with fans queuing for the chance to be front row at the R&B star’s debut Manila show.

Right at 8 PM, the growing crowd was treated to some banging beats from DJ Butta B that wonderfully introduced the night’s opening act, Jess Connelly. Performing a mix of her classic hits such as 2015’s “Wait” and some unreleased tracks, the crowd went absolutely wild for Connelly – an apt homecoming for the Filipino singer who we haven’t seen on stage or in Manila for the past few years.

With their similar yet stirring takes on R&B, it was only apt that Connelly was the one who set the tone for what was to come for the rest of the show. Following the last note of Connelly’s lustrous vocals, it gradually transitioned into a jazzy set of soaring instrumentals from Claudio’s band –– building up the moment that was followed by Claudio herself running onto the stage. The American singer-songwriter welcomed everyone with the captivating “All To You”, enchanting the crowd with her soulful voice and fluid movements right from the start.


Gabriel Saulog

With her eyes closed, she belts her heart out: “Am I that good?” she croons, to which the crowd responds with fire, “Yes, you are!”

Following her sultry performance of “Better Version”, “Rumors” had the audience singing along to the chorus. As the crowd chanted away, Claudio held out her mic towards them, prompting to sing as she danced with such grace and allure. The song ends with thunderous applause from the audience, to which Claudio reciprocates excitedly.

“Hey, Manila! What was that you guys?” she shrieks in a high-pitched voice. The crowd roars with excitement, as she continues on sharing “It’s so crazy that y’all even know who I am.” 

From her point of view, Claudio sees an audience member at the front of the barricade holding up a sign that reads: “Please sign my vinyl!” She notices it and promises “I will sign your vinyl girl – that vinyl is what I need to sign!”, motioning to her team off-stage to remind her of that commitment.


Iya Forbes/Insignia Presents

This kind of interaction with the crowd continued on throughout the show, like in moments where she poked fun at herself for spilling water all over her dress and joked about a possible wardrobe malfunction. “If you guys see something, just look away” she laughs.

The playful banter that Claudio carried with her audience was nothing less than amusing to behold. We witnessed a candid and carefree side to the fervent voice that we’ve come to know, which allowed us to see an entirely different side to her –– one that is high-spirited in nature.

But in the moments when she began to sing, you were left speechless. From every first note onwards, the strobe lights changed into an enveloping set of colors that formed around her, and Claudio’s vocals enamored the audience upon the first impact. Tracks like “Frozen”, “Moan”, and “Favorite Part” had the audience taking in the silky smooth sounds of her voice, while the Spanish-laden “Modo Avion” got people dancing around the concert hall with Claudio’s lead. 

Longtime fans of the GRAMMY-nominated act were also treated to a number of her older material, such as the song that put her on everyone’s radar, “Confidently Lost.” As soon as the first notes were played by the band, the audience erupted into a frenzy to Claudio’s own bewilderment but they sang along to every single word of the track. And by the time the song ended, she exclaimed “Damn, y’all weren’t lying at all when you said you were fans!”


Yvonne Solon/Insignia Presents

Following more thrilling performances of “Unravel Me” and “Belong To You” (of which the crowd continued on chiming along to), Claudio sadly announced that the next song would be the last. 

“I don’t wanna go home, you guys!” she pouts from the stage.

After introducing the members of her talented band (who contributed so much to building up the show’s ambiance), Claudio shares her gratitude for the audience with some sweet sentiments.

“Thank you so much for letting me into your life however way and capacity I can. I hope that I can keep coming back [to Manila] so we can keep growing together, so this won’t be my last time. I hope not!” she states.

To cap the night off, Claudio performed her emotional closer “Problem With You”, to which the audience responded by bobbing their heads with their arms up in the air. By the last lines of the song, Claudio gives an apologetic kiss goodbye to the crowd and leaves the stage, with the band’s instrumental riffs closing the show the same way it started.


Gabriel Saulog

As the lights turned back on, anyone from the audience could agree that the entirety of Claudio’s performance on stage was nothing short of a showcase of soulful brilliance. 

Everyone was so entranced and in the moment, as if a spellbinding wave came along the entirety of her Filipino audience. And thanks to Claudio’s presence, it marked the experience as an enchanting night that’s difficult for anyone to forget.