We went to see Barry Manilow last night and it was fucking incredible. We knew it was going to be amazing as soon as we walked through the door and were handed 'Ultimate Manilow: The Hits… And Then Some' glowsticks.
After warmup from Bobby Davro (sample 'gag': "Martina will win I'm A Celebrity — she's been eating out of the bush for years") Manno came on stage to the sound of Frankie Goes To Hollywood's '2 Tribes' mixed with Wizard Of Oz samples — we don't know what statement was being made with this — then banged out hit after hit after hit.
» He loosened his tie — audience went mental.
» He followed upbeat numbers with "calm down, that was just the foreplay" — audience went mental.
» He thrusted his pelvis — audience went mental.
Some songs were only there for the time it took to sing a verse and a chorus — it was a bit like an Eminem concert in that respect — while others formed sensational set-pieces. 'I Made It Through The Rain' was really amazing, with Barry stopping the song in the middle to tell the story of how, during his childhood growing up in Brooklyn, he would travel to Times Square with his late grandfather. Barry explained that his grandfather was the only family member who recognised young Barry's musicality and that there was a slot machine in Times Square where you could record your voice onto vinyl. Barry played us an excerpt of one of these old recordings — it was basically his grandfather trying to get him to sing. Barry continued his story, telling us how he wouldn't be where he is today without his grandfather and as he did so 'I Made It Through The Rain' began to swell again in the background, meaning that by the time Barry got to the triumphant end of his story (in summary: "I am here and I am amazing") the song came crashing back in, complete with samples of his dead grandfather's encouraging voice thrown into the mix. It was IMMENSE.
Another brilliant bit started with the video screens showing a 1978 recording of Barry performing 'Mandy' at the London Palladium. By the time the chorus rolled around 2008 Barry was on stage at the piano, duetting with his younger self on the video screens. Then it went into 'Could It Be Magic?' and everyone went bonkers.
He has performed these songs a million times — he's probably performed this exact show, ad-libs and all, a million times — but there is something about a performer like Barry which you don't get in any other sort of modern popstar. You don't get it in your Kylies and Madonnas, you don't get it in your Girls Alouds and you don't get it in your Oasises, although to be fair Noel Gallagher's certainly heading down that road. If you've never been to a show like this get along to one before all the peformers retire or kick the bucket: Barry's got some more UK dates left on this tour and if you time it so that you miss Bobby Davro you'll have a great night out.[youtube]W7BksvFznqw[/youtube]
CAREER REINVENTION IDEAS FOR MANNO
1. Flo Rida and T‑Pain collaboration along the lines of "Manilow-low-low-low-low-low-low-low"
2. Chromeo collaboration along the lines of "Manil-ow-e-o-e‑o"
3. Something involving Rick Rubin