I don’t know if going to see Barry Manilow live in concert has necessarily been a bucket list item for me, but when the opportunity presented itself back in February to buy tickets to see him in Charlotte, I thought, “Why not?” I coerced my co-worker L-train to go with me (Denis said no thanks) and immediately bought tickets. I was able to snag floor seats, in one of the front sections – not bad considering I didn’t buy tickets the day they went on sale.
The concert was this past Saturday night and was so.much.fun. We opted to skip the opening act (Dave Koz, saxaphonist) so that we could catch up over dinner and strolled in just as Koz was finishing his last song. Twenty minutes later, Barry took the stage and for the next 90 minutes we were completely entertained. He was very funny, told some good stories and, of course, sang most of his hits. What’s amazing is he sounds just as good as he did in the 1970s. In fact, during one section of the show they began playing a clip of one of the first times he performed “Mandy” on live TV and towards the end of the song the current-time Barry began singing along as though it was a duet – and both vocals sounded nearly the same. Before you say that the sound man was working overtime, I’d have to stop you and say no way. This was pure Barry. The only technical help that I think he got (and I could be wrong) was that when he played the electric keyboard on one side the stage, it seemed to me like he might have been using a teleprompter to remember the lyrics. But only when he sat at that keyboard. The rest of the time he was clearly looking around at the audience, his band members, and elsewhere. But at that keyboard, he focused in on one spot with laser-like focus and did.not.deviate. from that focus the entire song. L-train thought he might be singing directly to his husband, but I disagree – I think he had help for those numbers.
In any event, the Manilow fans were fun to watch – from the obsessed women who dragged their husbands who clearly didn’t want to be there, to the woman in the what-looked-to-be-a wedding dress, to the many, many women whose hairstyles seemed to be stuck in 1979, L-train and I had a blast trying to pick out the celebrity dopplegangers.
Most notable that we saw:
Our seats were great, mainly because the stage came out into the audience and so when he was at the end of that stage, he was only 30-40 feet away from us. As I said, he played well to the audience, and even pulled a woman on stage during one song (as he twirled her around in a slow dance she gave the audience a thumbs up when his back was turned). I took a few pictures, but my phone’s camera is less than stellar so most of them are blurry because of the show’s lighting messing up my auto-focus.
His tour only goes for another couple weeks, ending in New York on June 17. He has said this will be his last tour. He’ll still do shows on occasion, but no more touring. As such, I’m really happy that I got a chance to see him live. I loved him as a kid, and have been vocal here on Cootiehog on how much I love him and how I think Barry Manilow was the best guest mentor on American Idol’s entire run of show.