|November 7, 2004 ||Denver Post||"Manilow mania" by Elana Ashanti Jefferson|
|Barry Manilow is on a mission to revive great songs. The man whom fans laud as the finest entertainer of his generation - his many detractors would beg to differ - believes today's pop music is a sorry excuse for songwriting. Spinning smart lyrics and melodies, then artfully weaving them together, has been chucked in favor of vocal acrobatics and salacious live shows, Manilow argues.|
"Now what the singers are given is a good groove, a great-sounding record, some slang, and free rein to try and make it as interesting as possible," he said in a recent interview. "They do a brilliant job, but I feel that the craft of songwriting has taken a nose dive." That's why his 43rd album, "Scores: Songs From Copacabana and Harmony," finds the performer behind such easy-listening classics as "Mandy" and "Looks Like We Made It" recording and rearranging tracks from musicals he penned years ago.
Make no mistake. This is not old music with a new sound. The album is primarily material that Manilow, 58, wrote and arranged in the past but never recorded. And his avid fans, due to converge on the Pepsi Center on Wednesday for "One Night Live! One Last Time!," couldn't be more thrilled. Manilow's Denver show was moved from tonight to Wednesday because the singer is suffering from bronchitis. His supporters probably won't mind: Once a Manilow fan, always a Manilow fan.
"Most of the nights I look up, and there are between 10,000 and 15,000 people out there," the entertainer said of his longtime, loyal following. "They can't all be fans from the '70s," Manilow said. "I'm sure many of them are, and I'm very grateful that they've stuck with me that long. But between 10,000 and 15,000 people a night? I just have to believe there's another generation that has either been brainwashed by their parents or have discovered this catalogue of music on their own."
He'll schmooze with a few fans Wednesday night after his show, when he continues a practice started earlier in the tour to raise money for the endowment supporting his Manilow Fund for Health and Hope. The entertainer will spend an hour or two chatting with people who will have paid about $1,000 for the privilege of attending the show's after-party. The proceeds will be distributed to various charities.
And what do fans want to talk about once they're alone with Manilow and a glass of champagne? "We have great conversations," he said. "They thank me for my music. I thank them for their loyalty." The money goes toward a good cause, and few fans balk at the chance for an intimate chat with their songwriting idol. But members of the local fan club Mile High for Manilow know they don't need to spend $1,000 to meet the man in person.
"I've met him three times," said Charlene Moser, 33, a Northglenn business and marketing consultant who has cultivated a Manilow addiction since she was 6 years old. Blame it on her sister, who brought home an album featuring "I Write the Songs." "I would sneak into her room and play it over and over and over again on the record player," she said. "Every Christmas I would ask for his new eight-track or his latest album. I call it the Manilow gene," said Moser, a dedicated proselytizer for the artist. "Either you've got it or you don't."
Moser bumped into members of Mile High for Manilow at age 16. She was waiting in line at a Denver bookstore for the entertainer to sign a copy of his 1987 autobiography, "Sweet Life: Adventures on the Way to Paradise." When she got to the front of that long line, camera in hand, she gave "Barry" a handmade present fashioned out of ribbon roses, and a note professing her adoration of his music. He was really a nice guy, very genuine and very normal," she said.
The Colorado native met Manilow a second time when Mile High for Manilow was allowed to decorate his dressing room before a show, and a third time at the airport after a pal tipped her off that he was passing through. "I had to be a little defensive of him as a teenager ... Barry wasn't cool," Moser said. "As an adult, I make no apologies."
Los Angeles jingle writer Paul Hoffman says he's not surprised that Manilow, a one-time accompanist and arranger for Bette Midler, still inspires such loyalty 30 years into his solo career. "Barry Manilow has been able to continually reinvent himself and through his music appeal to the emotions of a wide and varied audience," Hoffman, the owner of Blue Music, said through his publicist. "(Manilow) sings of things that people can relate to. A Barry Manilow fan can always count on being positively affected and richly enlightened."
Mile High for Manilow member Debbie Westmoreland has hauled family and friends to more than 220 Manilow concerts. She plans vacations around the performer's out-of-state shows, and corresponds with a global network of Manilow-heads. "No one thinks anything about someone who's been to 400 (Colorado) Rockies games," said Westmoreland, who has trekked to 32 states to catch Manilow shows. "Why should this be any different?"
After Wednesday's show in Denver, she'll head to Phoenix for another "One Night Live! One Last Time!" concert. "The shows are pretty much all the same to an objective observer," said Westmoreland's daughter, Bre Bromley. "(Mom) just keeps going and going and laughs at the same old jokes." When Bromley was a kid, she doodled a picture her mother later gave to Manilow. The 23-year-old has since graduated to other kinds of music. Still, she is "glad Mom likes him. (The music) has been a support for her a lot of times."
Kathy Sampron is vice president of the 50-member Mile High for Manilow. The group gets together for dinners before concerts, and often performs public-service projects. But they rarely hang around hotels sniffing out autographs or grabbing souvenirs, Sampron said. Most of them already have that stuff. Instead they take advantage of ticketing perks, and get together from time to time for talk about life. "We've found this musician who's extremely creative, and never stops progressing," said Sampron, a 25-year member of the Barry Manilow International Fan Club. "He gives it everything he's got, and people appreciate that."
Barry Manilow. ADULT CONTEMPORARY|Pepsi Center; 7:30 p.m., Wednesday|$10-$125|through Ticketmaster, 303-830-8497 or www.ticketmaster.com.
|November 5, 2004 ||Entertainment News & Views (South Florida)||"Manilow Offers Mix of Ballads, Broadway and Jazz at Office Depot Center Concert" by Marvin Glassman|
|Creating songs that are meant to be heard more than seen for an arena crowd of 17,000 is a difficult process, but 58-year-old singer/songwriter Barry Manilow created this atmosphere with a perfect blend of his romantic ballads, jazzy up tempo songs along with some Broadway melodies at his recent concert at the Office Depot Center. Dressed in suit and tie to an enthusiastic audience, Manilow was in fine voice beginning the concert with the up beat "It's a Miracle" and closing the show with the same song done as a jazz medley with "Dancing in the Aisles." Confetti floated down the arena as the concert ended.|
Over the two-hour show, Manilow took his fans down an emotional journey through his 30-year career, interwining his early romantic ballads, such as "Even Now" and "Weekend in New England" with jazz compositions "Brooklyn Blues," "Jump, Shout and Boogie" and a few of his standard Broadway tunes such as "Sweet Heaven" and "Dancin' Fool" from his Copacabana the Musical and "Every Single Day" from his new Broadway bound musical Harmony.
To add local flavor, Manilow dedicated his hit song "I Made it Through the Rain" to victims of Florida hurricanes adding the line, "We saw our homes protected" in the song. Another highlight had Manilow pick a five-year-old girl to sing a duet with him in "Can't Smile Without You." The audience gave him many standing ovations, with a highlight being Manilow's dramatic singing of "Somewhere Down the Road," sung for the most part without his band and back-up singers.
The lowlight of the show was the audience, with a constant shuffling between aisles while eating and drinking while the concert was in progress. Manilow is at his best in more intimate settings than in a sports arena. Nevertheless, for those who love his showmanship and his ability to master the craft of songwriting in the genres of easy listening pop, jazz and Broadway, it was stunning to see Barry Manilow weave his way in and out of each genre with ease.
|November 5, 2004 ||The Daily Camera||Manilow's concert shifts to Wednesday|
|Attention "Fanilows", Your date with Barry's been bumped a few days. Citing a nasty case of bronchitis, smooth crooner Barry Manilow has moved Sunday's Pepsi Center concert to Wednesday. Tickets for the original date will be honored at the rescheduled, in-the-round show, which begins at 7:30 p.m. The Denver postponement is one of three rescheduled dates. A press release from promoter Clear Channel Entertainment notes, "As a 'live' performer, Manilow is unable to sing until he recovers." Tickets for Manilow's "An Evening With..." concert remain available through all Ticketmaster outlets; call (303) 830-8497 or visit www.ticketmaster.com for more information.|
|November 5, 2004 ||Rocky Mountain News||"Looks like he made it: 'Wonderful ride' brings Manilow to the end of the road" by Jay Dedrick|
|Barry Manilow will play his last Denver show on Wednesday - presuming the tour's "One Night Live! One Last Time!" title proves accurate. Fans can expect a hit-filled celebration in the round at the Pepsi Center. The showman also promises an emphasis on that key word live, assuring fans they won't witness any Ashlee Simpson moments.|
|November 4, 2004 ||BBC News||Sick Manilow cancels US concerts|
|Singer Barry Manilow has cancelled three concerts in the US this weekend because of illness. Manilow, 58, will be unable to sing until he recovers from the case of severe bronchitis, a spokesman for the star said. His shows in Denver, Houston and Dallas have been rescheduled until later in the month. But two shows scheduled for the 12 and 13 November, in Arizona and California, have not been affected.|
|November 4, 2004 ||USA Today||Manilow cancels three shows|
|LOS ANGELES (AP) � Singer Barry Manilow canceled three concerts this weekend because of severe bronchitis, according to a statement released Wednesday. Manilow, 58, will be unable to sing until he recovers, his public relations firm, PMK/HBH, said in a release. His shows in Denver, Houston and Dallas have been rescheduled to Nov. 10, Nov. 17 and Nov. 20, respectively. Shows in Phoenix on Nov. 12 and Anaheim on Nov. 13 were not affected.|
|November 4, 2004 ||KTRK-TV Houston|
|"Manilow reschedules Houston concert due to illness" by The Associated Press|
|A statement released today says singer Barry Manilow canceled three of his concerts this weekend because of a severe case of bronchitis. The 58-year-old Manilow will be unable to sing until he recovers, his public relations firm, PMK/HBH, said in a release. His shows in Denver, Houston and Dallas have been rescheduled to Nov. 10, Nov. 17 and Nov. 20, respectively. Ticket holders for each of the three shows will be able to use their existing tickets for the new dates. Shows in Phoenix on November 12th and Anaheim on November 13th were not affected.|
|November 4, 2004 ||Pollstar||Manilow Reschedules|
|Pop crooner Barry Manilow has rescheduled three concerts this weekend because of severe bronchitis, according to a statement released November 3. Manilow, 58, will be unable to sing until he recovers, his public relations firm, PMK/HBH, said in a release. His shows in Denver, Houston and Dallas have been rescheduled to November 10, 17th, and 20th, respectively. Shows in Phoenix on November 12 and Anaheim on the 13th were not affected.|
|November 3, 2004 ||Yahoo! News||Manilow Reschedules 3 Shows Over Illness|
|LOS ANGELES - Singer Barry Manilow canceled three concerts this weekend because of severe bronchitis, according to a statement released Wednesday. Manilow, 58, will be unable to sing until he recovers, his public relations firm, PMK/HBH, said in a release. His shows in Denver, Houston and Dallas have been rescheduled to Nov. 10, Nov. 17 and Nov. 20, respectively. Shows in Phoenix on Nov. 12 and Anaheim on Nov. 13 were not affected.|
|November 3, 2004 ||Houston Chronicle||Barry Manilow reschedules concert scheduled here|
|LOS ANGELES - Singer Barry Manilow canceled three of his concerts this weekend because of a severe case of bronchitis, according to a statement released Wednesday. Manilow, 58, will be unable to sing until he recovers, his public relations firm, PMK/HBH, said in a release. His shows in Denver, Houston and Dallas have been rescheduled to Nov. 10, Nov. 17 and Nov. 20, respectively. Ticket holders for each of the three shows will be able to use their existing tickets for the new dates. Shows in Phoenix on Nov. 12 and Anaheim on Nov. 13 were not affected.|
|November 3, 2004 ||Denver Westword||"He Made It: Barry Manilow still writes the songs" by Jason Heller|
|From jingle slinger to jazz balladeer, Barry Manilow has proved to be mercilessly enduring. But seriously, how can you hate the guy? His songs have become part of America's musical wallpaper, subliminally comforting in their sappy, maudlin nostalgia. Maybe that's why, decades after his last Top 40 single, he's still packing arenas like the Pepsi Center, where he'll [appear November 10] as part of his "One Night Live! One Last Time!" tour. But don't take that name literally: Manilow shows no signs of stopping in the 21st century. His 2002 greatest-hits package, Ultimate Manilow, went double-platinum... His new release, Scores, is a collection of tunes from his successful stage musicals, Harmony and Copacabana. And speaking of that disco-tinted oddity in Manilow's canon, a bizarre techno remix called, prophetically, "Copacabana 2005" has been burning up dance floors at divorcee support-group meetings everywhere since hitting the streets last month. Pepsi Center, 1000 Chopper Circle. For info and tickets, $75, call 303-830-8497 or visit www.ticketmaster.com.|
|October 2004 ||Jazz Review||"Politically Correct: Manilow Wins Columbus Ohio By A Landslide!" - Concert Review by Don Williamson, Venue: Nationwide Arena (Columbus, Ohio)|
|On October 16, Barry Manilow came to Columbus, Ohio with his politics of feelgoodism.|
The U.S. presidential election is scheduled to take place just two weeks after the concert, and the bitter national debate is causing stress in a great number of ways. However, Manilow proved himself to be politically prescient, and he probably wasn't even aware of it.
Stopping freeway traffic on his way to and from the same venue, George W. Bush also had performed in Nationwide Arena several weeks prior to Manilow's concert. The night of Manilow's concert, John Kerry returned once again to Columbus, using a Baptist church as a stage before breathless reporters and staying the night in a Columbus suburb. A so-called battleground state, Ohio has seen more than its fair share of presidential and vice presidential candidates. Many politically weary Ohioans wish that Bush and Kerry would go away to compete for the electoral votes of Rhode Island, Alaska, North Dakota and/or Hawaii instead.
So, Manilow brought his show to Columbus at just the right time to lift the spirits of listeners so that they could feel good about themselves again.
Lyrics like "Turn the radio up/Hear the melody/Turn reality down./Turn the radio up/Hear the harmony/Turn the negative down" assumed double meanings, even though they wouldn't have done so in a non-election year. Consider this: "I'm singin' to the world./Everybody's caught in the spin./Look at where we've been./We've been runnin' around,/Year after year/Blinded with pride,/Blinded with fear./But it's daybreak./If you wanna believe/It can be daybreak,/Ain't no time to grieve./Said it's daybreak/If you'll only believe./And let it shine shine shine/All around the world." Or: "In this world/That's lost all its reason/At least there's a reason/For hope in our hearts."
Indeed, Manilow's lyrics brought into focus the reasons for his appeal.
Of course, members of Manilow's fan club were there, reminiscing about his popularity in the 1970's. Others came for the romantic nature of his lyrics, wives dragging embarrassed husbands to the arena. Some people in the audience were excited by the sheer irresistibility of his music, despite career-long criticism about Manilow's over-the-top schmaltz, which did occur during the suspensefully drawn-out crescendo to the final chorus of "Weekend In New England."
But Manilow by the very nature of his music represents what's good about America: the citizens' optimism and good will. That point was driven home the day after the concert when an article in the October 17 edition of the Columbus Dispatch reported that "huge majorities [of foreign citizens] said they have a good opinion of Americans" even though they have strongly negative opinions of American politicians. It wasn't surprising to see a "Manilow for President" sign, among many others, in the audience.
Barry Manilow remains hugely popular to a broad cross-section of listeners. Even though he joked that the contestants of American Idol didn't know who he was, they know his music, which permeates public consciousness. Now that some jazz artists are reconsidering the music of Burt Bacharach, the lyrics for whose music can be just as saccharine, it's a miracle that Manilow's music hasn't more often been material for improvisation as well. After all, Manilow approached jazz artists like Gerry Mulligan and Sarah Vaughan to record on his 2:00 AM Paradise Cafe album. But jazz artists haven't gravitated to him, with occasional exceptions like Diane Schuur for whom Manilow wrote music for her Midnight album. Nonetheless, the logical musical simplicity of "Weekend In New England" is as direct and affecting as "A Child Is Born." "When October Goes" provides the material for a ballad with the same potential for improvisation that many jazz standards offer.
Manilow knew his audience. As he said, "You've all come here to adore... me!" At 58 years old, Manilow, still elfin, is threatening that this is his last tour; his fans wouldn't miss it. Part of his appeal is he doesn�t take himself seriously. Dressed in an outfit suggested by Keanu Reeves of Matrix, sunglasses and floor-length coat signaling his coolness, Manilow made his entrance by rising pneumatically, phoenix like, in the middle of the stage set up in the center of the arena. But after the put-on, Manilow assured the audience that "It's just Barry from Brooklyn" and that "This is what Clay Aiken will look like in 30 years." Dancing around the stage, and quite limber at that for a person approaching 60, Manilow said that he continues to entertain "because I'm still able to do it." Indeed, while other performers like Rod Stewart continue to reinvent themselves, Manilow has succeeded by being himself and by remaining prolific.
So prolific that he recently finished the score for two musical productions, Copacabana and Harmony, which opens on Broadway in 2005. Even though Manilow's new CD, Scores, contains selections from both shows, he performed only "Copacabana," "Sweet Heaven" and "Dancin' Fool" from the former and "Every Single Day" from the latter. Manilow knew that his audience was there to hear the older songs that assured his place in the Songwriters Hall Of Fame.
And he delivered, at first alone on the revolving stage under projection screens for the audience in the upper decks, with "This Song's For You" and "Singin' To The World." "Mandy," his breakout song of 1971, began with video footage of the then-25-years-old Manilow singing at a white grand piano in his first television appearance with Mike Douglas. And then, dramatically of course, Manilow rose from below the stage seated at a black grand piano to sing it live.
Debra Byrd, the vocal coach from American Idol, joined Manilow in mid-concert, being allowed her own time in the spotlight with "I'll Never Love This Way Again." A mostly anonymous back-up band made Manilow's "Brooklyn Blues" successful as they laid down a Memphis shuffle for it, and three other singers besides Byrd joined Manilow on stage.
Those in the audience who resisted the temptation to dance, particularly the women, were overwhelmed by the disco-tinged version of "Copacabana." Then, all the troubles of the world and all of the tribulations of the political season dissolved in the massive dance hall that Nationwide Arena became. Everyone clapped without being told to when Manilow sang "Turn The Radio Up." Everyone sang along without being told to when he sang "Can't Smile Without You" on stage to a lucky girl from the audience. (She was chosen because shrewdly she held up a sign reading "I'm the luckiest girl.")
The previously non-apparent political content of Manilow's songs, innocent and uplifting, became obvious at the close of the concert. Telling his audience that "You touch my heart" by continuing to value his music, Manilow stood at stage center and stared into the spotlight to sing "America." Rousing the audience to patriotic enthusiasm, Manilow, ever the showman, had more to sing, of course: specifically, "Let Freedom Ring," which he performed during the 2002 Super Bowl pre-game show. American flags unfurled from all four corners of the overhead trusses. Confetti shot into the audience. The applause was deafening. And the audience remained standing after Manilow's fake exit before he came back on stage to sing "I Write The Songs."
The audience left uplifted and positive, its collective self-esteem restored from perhaps the last opportunity to see Barry Manilow perform in a live concert. The transformation lasted until the audience members went home to watch the television news. Once again, unfortunately, the volume of reality increased, and they unable to turn the negative down.
For more information: http://www.manilow.com
|October 31, 2004 ||Tampa Bay Online||"Manilow Brings The Magic For Possibly Last Visit" by Jennifer Barrs|
|Say it ain't so, Barry Manilow! You'll be back, right? This really and truly ISN'T your last major tour, is it? I mean, c'mon, dude. Seriously. If Cher can pull a ``last tour'' fast one, so can you! And it's your fault anyway. Making middle-aged women act like 14-year-old Fanilows. Why, even the men in our lives have learned the words to "Copacabana." (And we've caught them wiggling their hips too! Funky, yes, but fun.)|
You've been selling us through song for nearly 30 years and 43 albums, convincing thousands of rabid Maniloonies we "Can't Smile Without You." Honestly, you did it again Saturday night in Tampa, where 10,824 of the screaming faithful gathered at your altar of adult contemporary hits.
We swooned through "Could It Be Magic." Wept over "Even Now." Boogied at "Brooklyn Blues." And silently, selfishly cursed that Sophie gal who got to go onstage for the traditional "Smile" sing-along. Yeah, Barry, some of us still want our chance on stage. Indeed, the same could be true of your favorite few. Among them Debra Byrd, the "American Idol" coach who joined you on stage for more than one or two songs. She had the jazzy, happy chops to show off. How unselfish of you, and how unexpected of her. And how Bette Midler of you both.
Really, Mr. Manilow, how can you leave it all behind, you with the concert charisma? True entertainers - dramatic, big-voiced, go-for-the-gutsy emotion entertainers - like you are so few. Sure, sure, you'll get to Broadway. Those songs you sang from your upcoming musical, "Harmony," were terrific. Particularly, the lovely "Every Single Day." But your world remains on our radio waves. Songs like "Somewhere Down The Road," which you played last night. And "It's A Miracle." And even the bodacious, boo hoo ballads like "I Made It Through The Rain." Oh, and don't even ask me how I feel about "Weekend In New England." Heck, the whole tune left me a tearful mess.
But I love it - me and my thousands of sentimental sisters. Look, here's what I'll do. I'll throw away the Wayne Newton key chain. Or, well, I'll stick it in a drawer somewhere. And I'll replace it with a Manilow magnet, T-shirt and a complete box set. I'll buy stock in your Broadway baby. Whatever it takes. `Cause Rolling Stone magazine said it best. You are "the showman" of my generation.
So, please, Barry, buddy, Don't go. (Or at least let me hear "`Mandy" one more time.)
|October 31, 2004 ||St. Petersburg Times Online||"Manilow charms crowd with hits, humor" by Louis Hau|
|After an opening rendition of "It's a Miracle," the middle-aged guy with the spikey blond hair figured it was time to introduce himself. "I'm Barry Manilow," he said. "And this is what Clay Aiken is going to look like in 20 years." Warm up the crowd with a familiar fan favorite. Then hit 'em with a joke. Who would expect anything less from a professional showman? And the former Barry Alan Pincus of Brooklyn, N.Y., is nothing if not the consummate professional.|
The 58-year-old Manilow proved it during a two-hour performance Saturday at the St. Pete Times Forum, as he entertained 10,824 fans with a mix of old hits, a few musical surprises and his charmingly self-effacing sense of humor. If they were to build a Mount Rushmore to the easy-listening icons of the '70s, Manilow would be its George Washington.
Naturally, the rock establishment hated the guy. Part of the reason was, as anyone born before 1970 can attest, there was a prolonged spell when there was simply no escaping the guy. Top 40 and soft-rock radio stations would play his singles again and again. And even shutting off the radio didn't help because his music would greet you as you got your teeth cleaned at the dentist's office. As you walked down the dairy aisle at the supermarket. As you rode up the elevator at the local department store.
But it was more than simple overexposure that accounted for the near-homicidal hatred some music fans had for the man. Perhaps Manilow's greatest crime was that his syrupy ballads and up-tempo, showtune-like ditties sounded as though the entire previous decade hadn't even happened. Rock was now supposed to be about artistic self-expression, a point even other easy-listening artists like Bread and Gordon Lightfoot seemed to understand. But all Manilow seemed to be interested in was - the nerve of the guy! - entertaining his audience. As he showed Saturday, old habits die hard.
For what must have been the 10-zillionth time, Manilow trotted out "Mandy," "Daybreak," "Copacabana" and a slew of other hits. If he minded, he didn't let on. In fact, in the middle of "I Write the Songs," Manilow said that he's often asked whether he gets tired of singing his old songs. "The answer is a resounding no," he said to cheers. Some numbers were reworked, such as the melodramatic bombast of "Could It Be Magic," which shifted midway into a surprisingly effective disco version. On other songs, Manilow stuck to the script, as on his faithful and well-received run-through of "Weekend in New England."
While he's billing this as his "last" tour, Manilow admitted that he's already done one of those before. But ultimately, he decided to hit the road again because, he said tongue in cheek, "You need my fabulousness." No doubt his fans agree.
|October 30, 2004 ||Sun-Sentinel|
|"Manilow as sappy, splendid as ever" by Sean Piccoli|
|Introducing a song on Thursday night at the Office Depot Center in Sunrise, Barry Manilow said three times, "I really hope you like it." He added, "Am I begging?" A plea for approval could fairly describe this hawker of song's career. Since he graduated in the 1970s from cabaret, session work and jingle-writing to solo pop stardom, all Manilow has asked is that his sentimental music be liked. Romantic chestnuts such as "Could It Be Magic" and "It's a Miracle" are freighted with nothing except their eagerness to please.|
Manilow, 57, got all the approval he could have wanted on the South Florida stop of his "One Night Live!-- One More Time!" farewell-to-arena-tours tour. More than 10,000 people turned out for a career-tracking set of pop ballads and spangled show tunes, and an in-the-round performance whose aim was a general aura of splendidness.
Manilow spent a pair of one-hour sets on a center-stage platform, with his band spread out like a theatre-pit orchestra on the arena floor below him. This was Broadway staging writ large, and Manilow played multiple roles: singer, entertainer, host of hosts and self-deprecating comic. "I'm Barry Manilow," he said at the outset, presenting himself in a dark suit and bottle-blonde hair, "and this is what [American Idol's] Clay Aiken will look like in 30 years."
Manilow's own voice barely registered the 30-plus years of use and mileage he's put on it. He sounded freshly wounded on the swooning breakup song, "Mandy," which he performed as a then-and-now collage. The first verse arrived on-screen, as a video of Manilow's debut on television's old Midnight Special music show. For the second verse, he rose into view on a hydraulic platform, sitting at a black piano and singing his cabaret-trained heart out.
Manilow's audience-friendliness is just as intact. Every number ended with show-stopping bravura, every segue was lively, and no heartstring was left untugged. He brought a 5-year-old girl -- named Mandy -- up from the seats to sing with him on "Can't Smile Without You," which she did surprisingly well. He and four backing singers turned in a witty, jazz-vocal rendition of Rossini's galloping "William Tell Overture." And "Copacabana (At the Copa)" rumbled along genially as Manilow's band opened the song up for an extended instrumental jam. Manilow at one point sang old jingles for State Farm and Band-Aid, and noted, "I actually wrote those obnoxious little melodies that won't leave you alone." It's hard not to notice that many of his songs have the same quality.
|October 29, 2004 ||Florida Times-Union|
|"IN CONCERT: Oh, Barry: Looks like you made it - Pop stardom took Manilow by surprise" by Eyder Peralta|
|Being a pop star was the last thing on Barry Manilow's mind. "Pop music had nothing to do with my life at all. When I was a young upstart, I had no, no intention of ever becoming a performer, singer or pop anything," he said. "It was going to be either conducting and arranging for other people or writing for the Broadway stage. And this funny little song called "Mandy" just happened, and it took me into a whole other world that I had to learn how to do and put all those [other] ambitions on the side."|
That funny little song called "Mandy" was released 30 years ago, after Manilow signed a deal with the help of Bette Midler's name. Manilow began his career writing jingles for companies like Dr Pepper, State Farm and McDonald's. After graduating from Juilliard in New York, he became the musical director for CBS' Callback, and in the early '70s met Midler. He was behind her infamous bath house productions, and he was behind her first two albums, The Divine Ms. M and Bette Midler.
Off that, Manilow signed with the Bell label, which later became Arista, and at the beckoning of Arista's main man, Clive Davis, Manilow recorded "Mandy." It went to No. 1 and launched a career that has remained steady since. His 2002 album, "Ultimate Manilow," entered the charts at No. 3. Now, he is touring in promotion of his latest release, "Scores." The tour stops at the Veterans Memorial Arena tonight.
"I'm doing arenas in the round," he said, "which I was nervous about, because after all these years, I'm lucky if I can play Chucky Cheese in Levittown somewhere. So when Clear Channel came and said, 'We think that you can fill up arenas.' I said, 'No guys, really.' But they seem to be right because it's big audiences [coming out], really big audiences."
He said he is playing all the hits. "When you play for audiences this size you don't, in my opinion, you don't give them album cuts. You give them hits, and so I'm doing as many of the ones that they would like to hear as I think I can squeeze [in]. Plus I kinda of squeeze in a few from the new album, and hopefully they don't run up the aisle going for orange juice when I do that."
"Scores," however, is the Manilow he always wanted to be. It's seven reinterpreted songs from Copacabana, a Broadway show birthed from Manilow's three-minute song, and seven songs from Harmony, a Broadway show written by Manilow and collaborator Bruce Sussman. "I was able to take seven of these songs and strip them down to their basic 32-bars songs and make them into renditions that I could sing," he said. "I was trying to do pop renditions of all of them. I wanted them to feel [like] comfortable listening."
And after all these years, these songs still excite Manilow. That, and he's not protective. He allowed Copacabana, one of his signature songs, to be remade into a "2005 dance version." "I gave it to these guys ... [and] I told them, don't feel like you have stick to anything I did in 1978. Just do what feels good."
Barry Manilow. When: 8 p.m. today. Where: Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena, 300 A. Phillip Randolph Blvd. Tickets: $37.50 to $134. Information: (904) 630-3900.
|October 29, 2004 ||Sarasota Herald-Tribune||"Barry Manilow's tour makes people cry one last time" by Melinda Newman (of Billboard)|
|TAMPA -- Barry Manilow has had a busy fall. Concord Records recently released "Scores: Songs from Copacabana and Harmony," Manilow's 43rd album. The CD is a collection of tunes from two musicals penned by Manilow. On Saturday, the superstar performs his "One Night Live! One Last Time!" tour at the St. Pete Times Forum. It's his last major concert tour, he says. Manilow talked to Billboard during a break at rehearsals for his tour.|
Q: You're so well-known for your songwriting. Assess today's songcraft.
A: What songcraft? That's the part that makes me sad, because I don't hear craft; it's dying. The (records) sound great, and certainly the singers -- because they have no lyric to act any more -- have learned to sing rings around anything I could ever imagine. But the craft of writing a song seems to have taken a vacation. And when I listen to the radio, I don't feel anything. And I miss it. I've joined the old-fart club. In the car, I play old CDs where people make me feel something, because 30 years ago, they were still doing it.
Q: Why are you quitting the road?
A: It's not that I don't like performing, I just don't like leaving home. But it's not like I'm giving up and retiring. I'll probably still wind up at the Pantages or Universal Amphitheater now and again. I just don't want to do these big tours where they keep me away from my life ... 35 years of no life. (Laughs.) I've decided that I need my life back: To play with my dogs, go to the movies, visit with friends. I need that. I've never been able to sell out arenas before. Neil Diamond has sold out arenas all of his life. I always felt that I do better in a small house. I communicate much deeper and much more easily. But I guess I'm to the point of once before I croak or something, (imitates ticket buyer): "Is he still alive? We'll see him before he croaks."
Q: You immersed yourself in German classical and pop music of the late '30s to prepare for "Harmony." What drives you to educate yourself in this way?
A: My mission is to pass it down. My next album I'd love to have Concord release is the Johnny Mercer collection that I've written (music) to. Ginger Mercer, his widow, gave me the stack of lyrics. There were about 35 of them in there, and over the years, I've musicalized all of them. And I'm going to ask everyone I've ever known to do one. I'm going to ask Bette (Midler), Norah Jones and Gillian Welch and Willie Nelson, and just send them all one and say, "You do your version of this and see if you can stick close to what he wanted." That would be my dream, just to keep this kind of stuff alive, because this kind of stuff is dying.
|October 28, 2004 ||BellaOnline: The Voice of Women||"Barry Manilow is Back!" by Ellie Eynon|
|Barry Manilow is one of those people who everyone likes but not a lot will admit to it. However, while I'm not a die-hard fan myself, I happen to think this guy's music can send a few shivers like it's supposed to, to the right spots. His new release, "Manilow Scores," is a jazzy little number filled with dancy tunes taken from the stage productions of Copacabana and Harmony. It's a very clever idea ... you certainly get your money's worth. Copacabana, of course, featuring the legendary Lola (that was her name, she was a showgirl, y'know) plus Harmony which tells the tale of 6 brilliant men, apparently living in dodgy times.|
For those who have seen either Copacabana or Harmony, I'm positive you will love this album. [As] nice as it is for a group of actors to play sing-a-long-a-Barry, it's so much nicer that Barry sings them to you instead... and what a job he does. He always manages to get across the whole emotion of the songs he's singing, particularly track 3, "Who Needs to Dream?" which is one of the reasons this guy is so darn popular. This album also includes a lovely duet with Olivia Newton John on track 6, "This Can't Be Real." Their voices match beautifully and it's a tingler.
Nice one, Barry, I shall be sending this to my Mam for Christmas, it's a good idea you all go out and pick up a copy too as this is a nice Christmas gift.
|October 27, 2004 ||Sun-Sentinel|
|"After being dismissed, Barry Manilow finds fans are ready to take a chance again" by Joan Anderman|
|[See Articles and Reviews -- October 1, 2004 (Boston Globe); "There's been something about Barry: He's been dissed and dismissed, but Manilow has still got it" by By Joan Anderman]|
Barry Manilow. Where: Office Depot Center, 2555 Panther Parkway, Sunrise. When: Thursday, Oct. 28 at 8 p.m. Tickets: $50-$134. Info: Call Ticketmaster (561-966-3309, 954-523-3309, 305-358-5885).
|October 25, 2004 ||Flint Journal First Edition||"No joke -- Manilow in top form as he quits road" by Doug Pullen|
|Time has been good to Barry Manilow. Once the butt of jokes and the scourge of critics, Manilow has withered the derision with his dignity, and, more importantly, his music intact. Now, at 58, he's ready to move on to a new phase of his storied career. The self-described "Broadway baby" says he wants to have a life and to focus on writing for the musical theater he's loved all his life. He's bidding adieu to life on the road with his 21-city "One Night Live! One Last Time!," which energized a mostly middle-aged, mostly female crowd of about 10,000 fans Saturday at The Palace. "I'm so over those little bars of soap in hotel rooms," he joked Saturday, "but I'm gonna miss you."|
The tour is a bittersweet experience for fans, who've seen their hero bumped off the radio by a generation of video stars. But he's earned respect from a new wave of young singers, thanks to "American Idol," a show that celebrates light pop and solid singing, which devoted an episode to him last season. Manilow's new "do" looks more than a little inspired by "Idol" alum Clay Aiken, who has been called the Manilow of his generation (and looks like Manilow's and Rod Stewart's love child).
Fans, however, won't get to see their idol do his thing in concert after this tour's conclusion next month, and that's a shame. Manilow is part of a retiring breed of entertainers who prefer substance over style, ability over looks. His voice is more powerful than when I first heard him in concert nearly 20 years ago, capable of repeatedly hitting soaring notes so vital to the dramatic buildups common to his theatrical songs like "Weekend in New England" and "I Made It Through the Rain," It's also supple enough to sing the sultry stuff.
It's also admirable that Manilow continues to update his hits rather than dust them off. Staples like "Mandy," "Could It Be Magic" and "I Write the Songs," which elevated him to superstardom in the '70s, were imaginatively rearranged to fit the mood and the abilities of his band and backup singers. His disco-era party anthem, "Copacabana (At the Copa)," got a very contemporary dance club remix that was perfectly suited to the celebratory nature of the night and provided the evening with an appropriately climactic crescendo.
While he hauled out several elements of past tours - a medley of the commercial jingles he wrote in the early '70s (such as "Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there"), hauling a female fan onstage to duet on "Can't Smile Without You" (preceded by a video montage of other amateur duetters over the years) - Manilow also added new touches. A rousing performance of "Every Single Day" from his forthcoming musical, "Harmony," teased his new musical direction. An inventive vocalese version of the "William Tell Overture" that showcased his four backup singers showed how the arranger in him loves to tinker. A patriotic tribute near the show's end reminded us "there's no place like America; we're so lucky" and avoided partisan politics.
The in-the-round format kept the focus squarely on the singer/pianist/entertainer and his music. The band and backup singers were positioned in a pit on the floor next to the stage, with video screens providing close-ups of the star and his supporting cast. Manilow barely reminisced during the two-hour, two-act performance, though he did try to recount some of the venues he's played in Detroit over the past 30 years.
Whether you consider yourself a fan or not, the quality, quantity and high standards to which Manilow has aspired are increasingly rare today. Pop music's loss is definitely Broadway's gain.
|October 23, 2004 ||Chicago Sun-Times||"Manilow runs circles around his many hits" by Miriam Di Nunzio|
|...Calling this his "One Night Live! One Last Time!" final tour, Manilow has pulled out all the stops in a visually breathtaking show. From his decidedly Elvis-like entrance from the back of the house through a phalanx of security staff and bodyguards, to the fact that he alone (his band was situated on the floor level behind his stage) stood in the spotlight for much of the evening, there was indeed much to visually appreciate. The sound, however, was vintage Allstate -- swallowing up Manilow's vibrant and delicately raspy-edged vocals with ravenous delight. When that carnage was finally overcome by his sound techs, by the time the artist made it to a nicely updated version of "Mandy" (complete with a video clip of him performing the song some 30 years ago), the music part of the evening was on its way to wonderful.|
The lineup of hits was somewhat unusual. Manilow knows what his fans want to hear, so the evening had its evergreens --"Even Now," "Somewhere Down the Road," "I Write the Songs," "Copacabana" and that confounding crowd-pleaser "Can't Smile Without You." But there were moments of truly delightful surprises, such as a finger-snapping, uptempo take on "I Made It Through the Rain," a nicely choreographed "Elevator Operator: They Dance," a smart disco version of "Could It Be Magic" and the showstopper, a gorgeous and -- from the look on his face -- emotionally exhausting "Weekend in New England," which brought the audience to its feet for the longest, most deafening ovation of the night. There was the evening's most dramatic moment, a beautiful rendition of "Every Single Day" (from his Broadway musical "Harmony"), perhaps one of Manilow's most gorgeous ballads ever.
Manilow insists this will be his last tour, but we all know how much that term has come to mean in the pop music realm. (Hellooo, Cher!) With nearly four decades in the business behind him, Manilow might very well be ready to sell the tour bus. He's quite content in simply having a marvelous time out there, whether he's searching for a screaming female to join him for a duet onstage or blithely poking fun at himself by declaring: "This is what Clay Aiken will look like in 30 years." Years ago, Rolling Stone magazine proclaimed Manilow "the showman of our generation." If ever an entertainer embodied that accolade, it is indeed Barry Manilow.