Live Review: Barry Manilow Sends Chills in St. Paul

Published on April 15th, 2012

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April 13, 2012 – He doesn’t have to introduce himself at this stage in his career, but there’s a certain charm about the way Barry Manilow starts each show with the line “for those who don’t know me, my name is Barry Manilow.” As for his fans, or “Fanilows”, in Barry’s case, they need no such formalities, and they’ve found lots of different ways to show affection for their favorite entertainer over the years. Some have made signs, started websites, and there’s no doubt that the obligatory female undergarments have been thrown on stage a few hundred times. But fans found a new way to get his attention on Friday night at the Xcel Energy Center, and it might be catching on.

With Manilow, it’s all about the ballad. And when it comes to ballads, there’s none as bombastic as “Weekend in New England”. It has the soft piano to allow for the crowd to scream upon recognition, it has the key change, and it has the yearning lyrics. One of those lyrics is Manilow posing the question: “When can I touch you?”

The twin cities had an answer for him.

“Right now!” yelled hundreds of his fans on the floor seats. Manilow was flustered. He smiled as the audience kept cheering, then looked to his band to keep the song going. The crowd had managed to throw the tune out of orbit, just for a moment. But it was in that moment the performance became even more real.

“I still GOT IT!” he proudly replied. The song continued on, and this exchange defined the show.

People ask how Barry Manilow has attained his fame. What is it that made this kid from Brooklyn a legend. It is not his voice alone, although his ability to hold an arena in awe by sustaining a single note doesn’t hurt. And the songs are certainly part of it. It’s his undiminished gift of connecting with an audience that has made him a lasting superstar.

A twinkle in the eye, a tremble in the voice.

He reaches out in subtle ways, and not everyone will admit they’re under his spell. But if you’re not singing along to “I Write the Songs” by the end of the night, then you might not be human.

Singing along from start to finish, the Xcel Energy Center was nearly 100% human.

He started the set in a blue blazer with a string of hits condensed into a medley. “It’s a Miracle” functioned perfectly as the opener per usual, followed shortly by hit, after hit, after hit. That’s what happens when you spend an entire decade on the top of the charts.

Manilow pretended to cringe as the screen behind him showcased his “interesting” choices of album covers over the years, with plenty of jokes about his oversize nose slipped in.

He used the cover of “If I Should Love Again” to introduce the title track to that album. It is a rarity that could not have aged better. Dramatic and melodic with every hallmark of a Manilow tune, this one has a freshness that should warrant a permanent addition to the set. And the same goes for “Fools Get Lucky”, a second tune from the album he broke into briefly in another moment that was surely planned but didn’t seem like it. It’s that gift surfacing again.

He closed by noting the album’s romantic nature.

“You have to smoke a cigarette after listening,” he quipped.

Later in the show, Manilow was joined by his 1970s self (on video screen), singing the opening lines to “Mandy”. How many in the business are willing to put themselves up for a side-by-side comparison 40-odd years later? And then proceed to give that younger self a run for his money? Barry Manilow might just be the only one.

 

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Comments

  1. Posted by r2s on April 17th, 2012, 13:53 [Reply]

    That weekend in new England thing has been going on for years..it’s nothing new. matter of fact the show has’t changed much in years either but Manilow is still one of the best concert performers out there.

  2. Posted by Katie on April 27th, 2012, 11:35 [Reply]

    Hi

    The pictures you took are absolutely gorgeous. The interview wasn’t that good but at least you didn’t mock him. FYI, we do no like being referred to as “FANILOWS.” We are simply fans.
    Barry is still on top because of the music and the bond we have with him. He is the best Musician . Thanks for not mocking him and taking great pictures.

  3. Posted by Suzan on April 27th, 2012, 14:49 [Reply]

    Thank you for this review; I genuinely enjoyed reading it. I’ve been a long-time supporter of Mr. Manilow (30+ years now!), and this may be one of my favorite reviews. You did a great job of identifying what makes Manilow stand out from other musicians and performers–that he connects with each person in the audience and makes them feel as if he is singing just to them. It IS a gift, and I’m happy to see you recognized it and enjoyed it.

    Thanks again, and the photos were excellent as well.

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