Articles and Reviews - Archives 7

February 1, 2002"Manilow's Funky Side - No, Really" by Glenn Gamboa, promoting Barry's concerts at Radio City Music Hall in New York (February 5-9)
Barry Manilow nicknamed his current tour the "AWB Tour," the "Average White Barry Tour," his chance to get funky. "I know most people would never use that word to describe me," Manilow said, calling from a tour stop in Chicago. "But I've got a horn section, nine guys with me, and the songs have a sort of funk edge."

After 30 years in the music business, Manilow still likes to throw out surprises and he likes it even more when he gets surprised. His favorite surprise these days is watching his current single, "Turn the Radio Up," climb the pop charts. "Having a hit again is wild. When I walked away from that pop singles world, after 'Read 'Em and Weep,' I never looked back. I never paid much attention to my being on the charts again ... But I knew that this song could be an open door for me. It was so damn catchy" ... Though it seems like a perfect post-Sept. 11 break, Manilow wrote it before the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. "It's just a frothy little pop song," he said. "It has a deeper meaning to people and to pop radio as well. It is landing harder than it ever would have. I wrote it five weeks before, but I was still pretty done with the bad news on the radio, the bad news on TV."

"Turn the Radio Up" is Manilow's purest pop song in years, but it doesn't mean that he's giving up his musical experiments. On Here at the Mayflower, he flows through jazz, swing, Latin, show tunes and, yes, funk. What binds the songs together is the concept of an apartment building, with each song reflecting the life of one of the apartment's residents. "It took 15 years off and on to finish this album," Manilow said. "I started to jot down ideas and all these songs kept piling up so I thought I would finish them up and see if they would hang together. If nothing else, it's very interesting. It is certainly not 12 love songs that I knocked out in a week."

To finish the album, Manilow imagined his fictitious characters in the real Mayflower apartment building, located down the block from where he grew up in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. "I could still see the hallways, the elevator, the door," he said. "That way I could assign the songs to different apartments and see how they fit together. It was like doing a crossword puzzle." On the album, some songs bleed into others, the way apartment dwellers' music bleeds into their neighbors' rooms. The whole project seems more suited for a musical or a revue, which Manilow said could be possible.

However, he wants to see his musical "Harmony," based on the true story of a group of singers clinging to music during the rise of the Nazi party in Germany, on Broadway first... "We are so crazy about this show," Manilow said. "I've seen it and heard it and I know what it is and what I want it to be. Now me and my creative team are trying to make it happen."

January 31, 2002 NewsweekCould It Be Magic?" by Jeff Giles
Many years ago, I interviewed for a job at Rolling Stone, and the managing editor asked me to name the first concert I ever saw. I told him it was a Rush show that I'd seen when I was 15 and I riffed a little about Neil Peart's fanatically precise drumming and about what maniacs Rush fans are, and I didn't get the job � further proof, as if it were needed, that lying is wrong and gets you nowhere.

When I was 12, my mom and I went to see Barry Manilow at Boston Garden. It's not important whose idea it was. Looking back, I remember � well, not a whole lot, actually. A big old orchestra. A great many lovelorn ballads. And an old-fashioned showman who knew how to work an audience. "I'm not gonna sing some of the old songs tonight," Manilow told the crowd, "I'm gonna sing 'em all!" It's been a very long while since I listened to Manilow. Twenty years, maybe. Still, I recently received his new, sky-blue greatest-hits disc, "Ultimate Manilow," and have been, to quote the singer, tryin' to get the feeling again. Manilow has been uncool in certain circles � OK, many circles ... My sense is that his fans love him because they love him and not because he's a kitsch icon ... What's great about Manilow is that, for a singer and pianist who lives in the land of Big Emotions, he's actually sort of subtle. He knows he's there to serve the song, like Tony Bennett, not to torture it with gonzo vocalizing, like Mariah Carey and Celine Dion. Sure, Manilow can hold a note like nobody's business, but he doesn't wave it up and down and all around like it's a rubber ball and he's a schoolkid playing keep-away. "Ultimate Manilow" sounds better than I expected all these years later.

Manilow sings best, and most often, about longing for lovers who are gone � either temporarily or for good. I listened to him years before I got any action whatsoever, so I suspect that his music appealed to me because I was longing for longing itself. My girlfriend hadn't dumped me; she just didn't exist. Same difference, more or less. "Weekend in New England," arguably the tune in which Manilow longs hardest and best, begins with a simple piano figure and a carpet of strings. The lyrics, if you really think about them, are sorta daffy, so the fact that the tune still works so well is a testament to how convincingly Manilow sells it: "Last night, I said goodbye / Now it seems years / I'm back in the city where nothing is clear ... And tell me / When will our eyes meet / When can I touch you / When will this strong yearning end / And when will I hold you again?"

Manilow has always been a better piano player than he lets on. He doesn't show off, like Elton John or Billy Joel do on occasion (or Tori Amos does constantly). He just lays out the chords and gets down to the business of soul-baring. "Mandy" opens with a piano melody that calls some Beethoven sonata or other to mind, and "Could It Be Magic" starts with chords borrowed from Chopin. Both tunes still fly for the same reason that "Weekend in New England" does: they're simple and, if you suspend your cynicism, they're touching. You believe that Manilow knows a thing or two about heartache, even if you suspect he's never really been in love with anyone named Mandy...

Manilow's still at it in 2002, of course. Not long ago, he released a "Rent"-ish concept album about a Manhattan apartment building, titled "Here at the Mayflower," and he's currently on the road, preaching to the long-since converted. Manilow is jazzier and more musically adventurous these days, but he's still reeling in the feelings. His steadfastness makes me feel sort of guilty for abandoning him circa 1979 -- not guilty enough to listen to "Can't Smile Without You" ever again, but still. "I made it through the rain," Manilow sang a couple of decades ago in what may well have been a reference to his critics. "I kept my world protected / I made it through the rain / I kept my point of view / I made it through the rain / And found myself respected by others who / Got rained on too / And made it through." Not everything on "Ultimate Manilow" will soft-rock your world, but what can you do but open your door to a guy who's spent 30 years singing in the rain?

January 31, 2002 The Journal News (Westchester, Rockland and Putnam)"Q&A Barry Manilow" by Ian D'Giff, in promotion of Barry's concerts at Radio City Music Hall in New York (February 5-9, 2002)
Q. As a native Brooklyn-ite, you've had a long relationship with the city. Describe it:
A. It's always a very emotional and warm feeling for me coming back to New York City. I spent the first half of my life in New York and I've got New York in my blood. It doesn't matter how many years I live in California, I always consider myself a New Yorker.

Q. Your music career began in Manhattan writing commercial jingles for TV and radio. How did that affect your songwriting?
A. Very deeply. It was quite a training ground. Frankly, I consider my jingle days college for me. Even though I did go to Juilliard for awhile and I had a lot of private piano lessons and worked with bands on the road for a long time, working in the jingle industry was my college. I did it for three years and it was my college education. When I got out of it, my first album (1973's "Barry Manilow") sounded very much like a jingle.

Q. That was around the time that you were playing for Bette Midler in bathhouses, right?
A. That's funny, someone else recently asked me something about Bette Midler and the "bathhouses." That's such a bit of misinformation. There was one bathhouse, it was called the Continental Bathhouse and I worked there for two weekends and Bette worked there for about a month of weekends and that was it. I accompanied her for two weekends there and then we went on to a lot of nightclubs around New York, Chicago and L.A. and she exploded like a year later. So it really wasn't gay bathhouses, I don't know where that came from. I guess people like to imagine that. And this bathhouse was like a nightclub.

Q. Let's talk about "Here At The Mayflower." You had been working on it for quite awhile.
A. Yeah, I came up with the idea about 20 years ago while on tour in England. The idea was to write an album about an apartment building and each song would be about a different life behind an apartment door.

Q. In terms of concept and the grand type of storytelling going on, it seems that the idea was for "Mayflower" to be much more than an album. Is this work intended turn into a play or screenplay at some point?
A. Actually, it wasn't intended to be that at all. So many people have said that they can see these characters on stage. You know, I know about the Broadway musical thing. I have been soaking in this thing of Broadway musicals for the last eight years, plus I cut my teeth on it when I was a kid. So I know about that. "The Mayflower" is not a Broadway show. At best, it's a revue. A revue with maybe five talented singers and dancers could probably pull it off and you would get a sense of the apartment building. But, it's not a Broadway musical, because that's a different animal.

Q. Would you consider broadening it to get it to that point?
A. Well it's so new and I'm so thrilled with the positive response to it that you never know. I haven't really thought very much about where I want to take this, if I do. If some producer approached me and said, "I would love to put this on a stage," I'd be interested.

Q. You've already got a Tony and a Grammy and even an Emmy. Is there pressure to get an Academy Award at some point?
A. There's no pressure, but I'm always on the lookout for a song from a movie. I'm always available, but they're very hard to get.

Q. Elton John and Bryan Adams keep hogging all the good stuff, huh?
A. Actually, I've done three animated films and one of them I thought should have been right up there, but I didn't know about the politics. You have to take out ads and throw parties. I had no idea. When I did "Thumbelina," which was a wonderful score, I just was stupid. The studio that put it out never got behind it. Had somebody gotten behind the thing, I think it would've been up there. But I'm always on the lookout.

Q. What can we expect from you after the tour is over?
A. I'm soaking in this musical thing. I've done a musical called "Harmony" which opened at the La Jolla Playhouse about three years ago to rave reviews and with a little luck, it will be in New York next year at this time. It's written by myself and Bruce Sussman, the guy that wrote "Copacabana" with me.

January 25, 2002 Chicago's Daily Southtown"Old magic, new material makes for interesting Manilow mix" by Eloise Marie Valadez
Barry Manilow conjured up a bit of that old magic during his opening night show Wednesday at the Rosemont Theatre. The concert was one of four shows to be presented by the popular tune master in Rosemont. Manilow will perform at the venue through Saturday (He was the first performer to appear at the Rosemont Theatre when it opened in 1995). Manilow, currently touring in support of his latest concept album "Here at the Mayflower," unveiled nearly a dozen new songs and dipped into his catalog of hits during the show. Wearing a dark, pin-striped suit, Manilow took the stage a few minutes after 8 p.m. as loyal fans stood up to greet the singer/pianist. Flashing lights, a multi-tiered stage and the cranked up volume of the band added to the energy and high theatrics on stage early on.

Manilow filled his concert with a fair share of hits but dedicated a good portion of the second half of his show to "Here at the Mayflower." The songs on the album, he said, revolve around the lives of the people living in an apartment building called the Mayflower. His show gave a bit of a nod to the Broadway musical genre when he performed the new songs, which weave stories of their own. Tunes such as the ballad "Welcome Home" and the uptempo "Turn Up the Radio" proved standouts in the segment.

The more familiar hits were a combination of ballads and more enthusiastic numbers. On the roster was "Ready to Take a Chance Again," "Daybreak," "This One's For You," "Bandstand Boogie," "Could It Be Magic," "Copacabana" and tunes from his upcoming musical, "Harmony." The performer, who got his start writing jingles for commercials, also performed a few snippets of his most famous ones, including "I Am Stuck on Band-Aid," and "State Farm Is There."

During the show, Manilow talked often to fans in the packed house, acknowledging their support of his three-decades-long career while acknowledging the fact that his show was heavy on new material. "Thanks so much for your love and your approval. I love what I do... And (it was scary) to ask you guys to sit through over 10 new songs," he said. The mix of Manilow hits with the unfamiliar but catchy tunes, though, proved a good blend. The showman ended the concert on a patriotic note with "My Country Tis of Thee" and then the engaging "Let Freedom Ring." As audience members stood up and cheered, Manilow delivered his final number - an a cappella version of the poignant "One Voice."

January 25, 2002 Chicago Tribune"Manilow's newer songs highlight of concert" by Howard Reich:
Love him or loathe him, there could be no argument that [Barry] Manilow gave his audience Wednesday night (January 23) in the Rosemont Theatre everything he had and then some. He was opening a four-night run of sold-out shows, which suggests the man, and the non-rock idiom he represents, still commands a large and devoted following. Better yet, the legions were rewarded with more new material than they might have expected, for the songwriter has two significant new sources to draw upon: catchy pop songs from his recent album, "Here at the Mayflower," and unassailably substantive works from his musical-in-progress, "Harmony." Surprisingly, the "Here at the Mayflower" material sounded more persuasive in concert than on record, because of Manilow's knack for putting over a song in concert and the synthetic quality of the instrumental accompaniments on the CD. By launching his show with "I'm Comin' Back," for instance, Manilow gave listeners precisely the kind of roaring, uptempo opener that a concert of this kind requires. When he unfurled the ballad "Not What You See," there was no question that Manilow still can write a beguiling pop melody with the best of them. But the most disarming, haunting music came from "Harmony," a forthcoming Manilow stage musical. If the script for the show proves equal to the score, "Harmony" may become his most lasting legacy.
January 25, 2002 Chicago Sun-Times"Manilow gives the fans what they want" by Miriam di Nunzio, Review of Barry's concert at Chicago's Rosemont Theatre (January 23)
You will have to travel far and wide to find a more powerful concert showman than Barry Manilow. Whether he ever wanted the fame associated with being the singer out front rather than that of the composer who labors forever in the background, success found Manilow nearly 30 years ago, and it's never let go ... Every concert needs its comfort zone, where the artist carts out the cavalcade of greatest hits to keep the diehards happy. Manilow filled the entire first-half of his show with just such an offering (save for two fabulous cuts from his hopefully Broadway-bound musical ''Harmony'').

But every concert also needs its surprising detours, where the artist challenges the audience to share in a new musical journey. Manilow set sail in the show's second half, with a hefty sampling of cuts from his latest disc, "Here At the Mayflower" (Concord). A wonderful collection of song-vignettes about the inhabitants of a fictional New York apartment building, the concept album could very well serve as the basis for his next musical. Manilow didn't sing the songs as much as perform them, at one point even donning an old scarf and cap to become "Joe," the elderly gent from the album's most poignant cut, "Not What You See." The song's powerful message brought the audience to its feet. A similar reaction was had after Manilow performed the album's most emotional vehicle, "Talk To Me," written with his longtime and perhaps best collaborator, Marty Panzer.

The new material is a refreshing and wonderful departure for the 56-year-old entertainer, who recently described it as "unlike anything I've ever done musically before." And while he's publicly professed some concerns about fans accepting his new musical road, there was no need for such worry on this night. The ovations were deafening, and yet Manilow almost apologetically quipped, "Now back to our regularly scheduled programming--the hits." ... While it's the oldies that the audience is paying to hear, there's so much more incredible music and depth in Manilow's repertoire than commercial jingles and the usual mix of "Copacabana," "Bandstand Boogie" and "It's a Miracle." Pick up "Mayflower" or 1984's "Barry Manilow--2:00 A.M. Paradise Cafe" for proof positive.

January 18, 2002 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette"Polished Pro Barry Manilow Gives His Fans What They Want" by John Hayes, Concert Review
Manilow's crowd loves him to death, and at last night's Benedum Center concert, the first of three sold-out shows, it was obvious that the love was reciprocal. His self-deprecating image drew laughs, his breathy performance drew standing ovations and his well-polished 15-piece band and light crew kept the energy in the red-flag zone. The attitude in the room was palpable, remarkable when you consider that this is no rock act - the guy is a crooner of love ballads. Manilow is still The Man because he does what he does extremely well.

A latent theater fan, he's now the playwright behind two musicals, Harmony and Barry Manilow's Copacabana, which was born at the Benedum in 2000. Tunes from both musicals were spotlighted in concert and even songs from his new studio disc (Here at the Mayflower) sound like musical theater. Any doubt that Manilow has crossed over to the theater side was dispelled when he threw on a sparse costume and sang "Not What You See" in the character of an old man. Manilow writes better than he acts, but the crowd ate up every bit of the deep, new material and asked for more. He rewarded them with "Talk to Me," a powerful and angry love song from Mayflower that he said had never been performed for a live audience.

Pop songs have to push a radio-friendly hook, something that Manilow can do in his sleep. But contemporary show tunes are written to advance a broader story-line. The Mayflower songs performed last night sail in on the turbulent gray area between theater and radio. The diehards loved it. For the first time since at least the first Bush administration (and maybe Reagan), adult-contemporary radio is spinning a new Manilow tune. "Turn Up the Radio," from Mayflower is decidedly uptempo and catchy. "They Dance," another of the new concept tunes, is pure mirror-ball, Studio-54, glittery 70's disco from the guy who gave the world a soft-rock alternative to all of that 25 years ago.

The sales pitch is powerful, but the attraction that filled the house was Manilow's catalog of hits, which he played in abundance. "Mandy," "Bandstand Boogie," "Even Now," "I Write the Songs"... he's got a million of them and he must have played them all. Admirable, he's not a walking jukebox. The live versions show off the trademark key changes and big finishes, but are suitably altered for live consumption. Manilow is a pro and it shows.

January 17, 2002"Barry Manilow to perform his classics at the Benedum" by Rex Rutkoski, promoting Barry's appearance at the Benedum Center in Pittsburgh, PA (January 17, 18, 19)
[Barry Manilow] does not coast through his career, continuing to challenge himself with material, such as his recent "Manilow Sings Sinatra," which earned him two Grammy nominations, and his new, and 31st, album, "Here At The Mayflower." He describes the new collection of original material as an exploration of people, friendships and the cycles in life we all experience. "Right now, I think my critics are confused. They are not sure whether to do Barry bashing as they have all these years, or to admit that they've always liked what I've done but were hesitant to say it. I've had a great run, and I'm very fortunate to be able to continue to make records that go gold and platinum. Where are the (other entertainers) I started with? Where are they now?"

Manilow says that he comes from a musical world where there is respect for the songwriter, the melody, lyrics, arrangements and the structure of the song. "So I showcase all of that, and these audiences don't know what I'm doing. They're not used to seeing it, and they love it. Audiences these days, they sit there and stare out at me like I'm a Martian. They love it, don't get me wrong, and they are very generous, screaming and shouting and throwing their hands in the air when I do what I'm doing. When I sing 'Mandy,' 'Even Now' or 'Weekend in New England,' and crawl deeply into the lyric and find myself lost in the song, audiences don't know what the hell is happening. I guess (other performers) just don't do it anymore. I'm interpreting the lyric. That's what I'm doing. Most people don't get to see that, I guess. That's what I saw when I was growing up. Singers, when I was in my teens, used to take pride in doing that. Now they are thrusting their pelvises at us and take pride in how many curse words they use in a song and how many notes they can fit into a bar. That's all very entertaining. I'm not putting it down. But I don't come from that world."

He is on a mission, he says. "I don't need the money. I don't need more gold records. I don't need to shave with cold water back stage ever again (he laughs). I don't need to wait for a late plane. I'm out there because I have a mission to show folks there is this kind of songwriting, arranging and musicianship from my musicians and orchestra. I don't want to let that die. If I don't do it, who will? That's the only reason I tour..." When it's right, music is all about emotion, Manilow says. "It's all about feelings, all sorts of feelings: nostalgia, joy, inspiration. For me, it's my Bible. It does for me what religion does for so many other people." Manilow sees communication as his strength. "That's what I feel, that's what I want. I strive to move people. I never really wanted to move mountains. I just wanted to move people."

January 17, 2002 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette"Concert Preview: Manilow's suite of originals finds a home at new label" by Ed Masley, interview with Barry in promotion of his concerts at the Benedum Center in Pittsburgh, PA (January 17, 18, 19)
It's been awhile since Barry Manilow could sing "I Write the Songs" (a song he didn't write) and back it up with an actual album of songs he did write. In the past 10 years, he's done a Frank Sinatra tribute, a holiday album, an album of show tunes, an album of songs from the summer of '78, a big band album. Nothing original, either. The '70s icon explains his return to writing songs to make at least a portion of the whole world sing with a concept album he's been working on for 20 years simply, "I missed singing my own songs. [This] last year, I really began to miss singing my own songs. And I just threw caution to the wind and put this album together."

It helped that Manilow had signed to Concord Records, an independent label known for jazz. As the singer recalls his early meetings with Concord, "Not once did they ever mention Britney Spears. Not once did they ever mention Backstreet Boys. Or who was No. 1. Or who was No. 20. Or who was failing. Or who was succeeding. That's not what they're all about. They're all about the music. I never went to another record label. Never even made a phone call to other labels... I knew they were a small record label. I knew that they weren't Sony or Capitol. But it felt so classy and it felt so musical that I pursued it. And this is where I want to be."

The label was thrilled with the music on "Here at the Mayflower," Manilow's suite of story-songs about what goes on when they get behind closed doors at an apartment building called the Mayflower. He woke up 20 years ago in England, he says, with "this idea to create an original album that was based on people's lives in an apartment building. And every cut would be a different life behind a different apartment door. And that was it. I jotted down some ideas. I put 'em in an envelope and I forgot about it for about five years. And then I looked at it again.... And over the years, I just accumulated 20 some odd fragments of songs and ideas." The stories, he says, are fictitious. But it should be noted that he grew up in a building called the Mayflower. "If you go down into Williamsburg, Brooklyn, on Briggs Avenue and South 9th Street," he says, "you will see a building that is actually called the Mayflower. I was imagining getting out of the elevator, walking down the hallways and standing outside of people's apartments and listening in to their lives."

Although the album follows his work on the musical Copacabana, Manilow himself would hesitate to draw a parallel. "Copa, he says, "is such a light, frothy, novelty kind of musical. But my heart lies in writing for situation and character. I've never really been good at writing pop songs, although I've had wonderful success. But that was all guided by Clive [Davis] because that's all he lives for and he knows how to do it.... Left to my own devices, if you asked me to just write a pop love song, I would look at you with a blank stare. But if you told me to write about an older couple who had been together 50 years, now you're talking. I can do that."

"I've been doing this tour for the last three weekends and I have to tell you that this response is beyond anything that I ever could have imagined. It is not just applause. It comes from their toes. These audiences are so enthusiastic.... And they are just as enthusiastic about the new material, which is so gratifying. I was so nervous that they would go out for orange juice when I started something new, but they don't. I've never experienced a reaction like this in all of my years of touring. I think that it's probably because of the times that we live in and what I remind them of, and these songs are landing so emotionally that the response is overwhelming to me. I just hope I'm not dreaming this."

January 15, 2002"Review: Here At The Mayflower" by Russell Hall
The notion of a "concept" album isn't exactly what springs to mind when one thinks of Barry Manilow, but with his latest release, the veteran songwriter delivers a solid entry into that art form. Constructed around the idea of imagined life inside an imaginary apartment building, Here at the Mayflower integrates Manilow's love of pop balladry, jazz, and Broadway show tunes into something with more lyrical substance than that found in most adult-contemporary fare. The project also seems to have sparked renewed vigor in Manilow's skills as a composer. Indeed, to find melodies comparable to these, one has to go all the way back to Manilow's work in the mid to late '70s.

The opening song, "Do You Know Who's Livin' Next Door?," sets the musical and thematic tone for all that follows. Buoyed by Dave Koz' silky sax lines, the composition finds Manilow giving reign to his familiar boyish spirit, but lurking beneath are shades of real gravity.

From that starting point, the album unfolds as a beautifully sequenced mix of soft-lit balladry ("Border Train"), vanilla-smooth pop ("Turn the Radio Up"), and outsized Broadway-style tunes that sound as if they were written with an eye toward live performance ("Not What You See;" "She Should'a Been Mine"). Occasional stylistic surprises dot the set as well -- most notably in the snappy swing excursion, "Freddie Said," and in a salsa arrangement titled "The Night That Tito Played" that would've made a perfect B-side for "Copacabana."

Wisely, to help bring these compositions to life, Manilow enlisted the help of several songwriter-friends whose past collaborations have yielded some of the singer's biggest hits. From an execution standpoint, however, this is Barry Manilow's show all the way, and he's never been in better form. For some people the word "Mayflower" conjures up thoughts of a new beginning. That's exactly what this effort sounds like.

January 14, 2002 Buffalo News"Even now, Manilow keeps his fans enraptured" by Toni Ruberto, Concert Review: Buffalo, NY (January 13)
Would it be magic? Could it still be magic for Barry Manilow and his fans nearly 30 years after the hit "Mandy" first endeared him to the public? From the moment Manilow walked on the stage in HSBC Arena Sunday night with his arms raised to his fans, the answer was a resounding yes. Time appeared to have stood still for the romantic icon during a concert that went beyond magic for an energized crowd that hungrily grabbed Manilow's every word, every movement and every song. They swayed and clapped through "Daybreak," jumped to their feet for "Copacabana," and screamed during "Even Now."

Through a two-hour set of greatest hits and selections from his latest CD "Here at the Mayflower," Manilow displayed a rapport with an audience he repeatedly referred to as "my friends." He was loose and funny, with humor that was as abundant as the passion of his heart-grabbing hits. But it was the voice, that Manilow voice, that was awe-inspiring. Even a nagging case of bronchitis that repeatedly sent him looking for a tissue ("Now and again I might have to stop and blow my nose. It's gross, but I don't know what else to do," he warned early on) didn't affect a voice that still induced goosebumps and chills. It was always emotional and even majestic, often drawing people to their feet as it swelled for the grandiose drama of his hits. Sharply dressed in suit and tie, Manilow began by launching into a four-song hit medley that ran the gamut of emotions found in his music: the hopeful "Ready to Take a Chance Again," into the brightness of "Daybreak," on to the romance of "Somewhere in the Night" and finishing with the powerful "This One's for You."

A lively performance of "Bandstand Boogie" was followed by a story about his first TV appearance on "American Bandstand" where he performed "Mandy," a feat he then duplicated at his grand piano. The Brooklyn-born Manilow talked often of New York City and the events since Sept. 11, merging those thoughts with songs. He dedicated "New York City Rhythm" to the heroic people of New York and lauded the country's outpouring of support with the inspiring "I Made it Through the Rain."

He had plenty of fun, as well. When it came time for Manilow to pick a fan to join him on stage to sing "Can't Smile Without You," people went nuts. Signs of every shape, size and color blanketed the arena with screams of "pick me" and "choose me." Manilow finally chose a fan way in the back of the floor seating who ran up to the stage to sing and dance alongside him before proudly returning to her seat high-fiving rows and rows of other fans along the way.

After nearly an hour of hits and bonding with fans, Manilow took time for songs from his newest recording, "Here at the Mayflower," and its stories of life behind a hotel's closed doors. The jazzier numbers, including "Do You Know Who's Livin' Next Door?," "Come Monday" and the new single "Turn the Radio Up," carried a big, spirited Broadway feel. He put the sparse set design of a simple steel stairway, similar to a fire escape, to good use during this segment. Leaning over a railing or walking and dancing up and down the stairs, Manilow augmented the numbers with an acting/singing performance style similar to that of a musical (could a trip to Broadway be far off?).

After this lively excursion into the newer material, Manilow announced "Let's do some hits" and performed "Weekend in New England," "Copacabana" and "I Write the Songs." The night fittingly ended with Manilow, alone with his fans, to sing the graceful "One Voice" a cappella.

January 11, 2002 Buffalo News"After years of denial, fellow musicians and closet fans give props to the prolific songwriting talents of Barry Manilow" by Toni Ruberto
Barry Manilow may write the songs that make the whole world sing but just try to get some people to admit it. Most folks zip their lips when it comes to Barry (unless it's a joke), since admitting a liking for the king of schmaltzy pop romance often brings ridicule. "We're not fanatics. We're dedicated fans but not obsessed," said Marie Withkowski, director of Manilow Mavens, a chapter of the Barry Manilow International Fan Club in Voorheesville. Heck, even Manilow himself gets into it. He once said his songs are "like anchovies. Some people love them - some people get nauseous."

Even if his music makes you a bit queasy, there's no denying Manilow's talents. He has charted in four consecutive decades; had a string of 21 consecutive songs in the Top 7 with 39 Top 40 hits; and has sold nearly 60 million records making him the top adult contemporary artist of all time, according to Radio and Records magazine. Manilow is so prolific, there's an Ultimate 100 listing fan choices for his Top 100 songs. Still, that wasn't enough. The list is up to his best 150 songs. The heartbreaker "Even Now" is tops; "Swing Street" rounds out the Top 150.

The career that blasted onto the pop scene with "Mandy" in 1974 not only hasn't stopped, it's pretty darn cool again. And though his songs no longer blanket the radio airwaves, fan support is stronger than ever. The Barry Manilow International Fan Club, with offices in Los Angeles, Australia, England and South Africa, is going strong, boasting that it's the largest fan club in the world, with an estimated 10,000 members. (Of note: Fan club members don't just swoon about Barry; they work for charity as well...)

When Manilow performs Sunday in HSBC Arena, there will be plenty of fan club members coming from out of town. "We'll be there," said Withkowski of Manilow Mavens ... Adding to Manilow's resurgence is a scheduled performance during the Super Bowl halftime show Feb. 3.

In town, it's not a surprise to hear a Manilow song on, gasp, Buffalo's hip Chippewa strip. The Universal Grille Band Show performs the high-energy dance tune "Copacabana" weekly at shows, including its Thursday night performance in the Crocodile Bar. "People love it. It's a fun tune, has a great story, and people can sing along to it," said vocalist Cher Vestman. "We are closet Barry Manilow fans - as I'm sure most of the rest of the world is. We think he's the real king of pop. His songs remind us of a time in our lives when music was so familiar. It's corny music, but it's fun. He writes terrific songs."

Vestman is especially impressed by Manilow's rapport with his audience, especially after enjoying a concert in Shea's Performing Arts Center. "We all screamed like a bunch of 12-year-old girls. He's such a great entertainer. He's very professional, yet reachable and he talks to the audience. And he can make fun of himself. It's very attractive to see an entertainer with that kind of sparkle."

Local musician Tom Sartori has also performed Manilow songs in concert, including closing every show for two years with "Mandy." "People loved it. They would wait around for the song," Sartori said, adding he would sing the sad love song back to back with something from, say, Nine Inch Nails to balance it out. "It was bizarre, but it worked." As a musician, Sartori appreciates Manilow's songwriting talents. "I grew up listening to his music and I really can appreciate his songwriting. The songs take you on a journey. He tells stories and he does it so well. It's so rare today - you don't hear it anymore in pop music," Sartori said.

Vocalist and keyboardist Nelson Starr of the Party Squad agrees. "You can make fun of the guy all day long, but he knows what a hook is; he knows how to catch you. He deserves recognition for his songwriting."

Singer-guitarist Scott Celani of the original rock band Rufus Maneuvers considers Manilow underrated. "I put him in the same category as Neil Diamond: It's corny to like him, but he just writes these great songs. I think there are a lot of anonymous fans," he said. After some prodding, Celani even admits attending a Manilow show when he was 14 - as a favor to his mother. "But it was on the condition that no one could know. It was a very clandestine, covert operation. You will pay dearly if your friends know you went to see Barry Manilow."

The word is out now.

January 11, 2002 Columbus Dispatch"Manilow fans love familiar sounds of songs old and new" by Aaron Beck, Music Review: "Last night in the Palace Theatre (Columbus, OH), women held placards proclaiming their love for the singer, who is 55 and existing in some sort of Dick Clarkian realm where men with scooped-out cheeks go to cease aging. Women danced in front of their seats and swayed to the easy beats. Many sang and screamed every word. Their screams rivaled those of fans at 'N Sync concerts. In the first hour of the two-hour show, Manilow and his band (a five-piece rock band plus a nine-piece horn section) matched the hollering with medley upon medley of hits. The songs inspired many a standing ovation. In the second hour, Manilow presented songs from his 31st album Here at the Mayflower. The album [contains] a few songs that sound absolutely Manilow, Turn the Radio Up, being exhibit A. The song, as it did last night, bounces along like the best of Manilow's punchy '70s and '80s fare. The new songs, too, brought the people to their feet. Throughout the evening, Manilow's voice was sturdy and wide-ranging... His voice was most impressive during the first hour when he performed two songs from Harmony, his musical built around the Comedian Harmonists, a singing group trying to live and perform in 1930s Nazi Germany. The concert itself had the feel of a musical, with Manilow, always animated, mugging for the audience, dancing like an eager-to-please vaudevillian and chatting up the crowd all evening."
January 11, 2002 Buffalo News"Manilow's all about the music" by Toni Ruberto, interview with Barry in promotion of his concert at the HSBC Arena in Buffalo, NY
Barry Manilow has a case of bronchitis that "just won't let go." It caused him to reschedule concerts in Hollywood's new Kodak Theatre, where he was "blowing his nose on stage and hacking up the hits. It was quite an interesting three nights of performing," he said quietly by phone Tuesday. But his show goes on with no holding back, bronchitis or not. That's the way Manilow approaches life on and off the stage. And that's why, in the nearly 30 years since "Mandy" began a string of nearly 40 Top 40 hits, he remains a vibrant part of the music industry.

"Commitment is really where it's at for me. When I started off in the business, I learned it's the only way to success. The only way to fulfillment is to commit totally to what I'm doing. Once I commit to a decision, I commit all the way. I don't know how else to do it. And it goes down to having bronchitis on the stage in the Kodak. When I made the decision to go on that night, I went all the way. I can't do it just a little. I can't make a little album. I can't commit to writing a song without going all the way. I think that's the way you have to do it. You can't put your toe in the water. You have to dive, you have to jump off the bridge."

His 31st album, "Here at the Mayflower" [started] with the idea of writing an original album based on people's lives, he said. And it continued with him jotting down titles, ideas, situations and melodies for years. "It felt like if I was going to do this album, it needed a lot of thought and a lot of care and a lot of work." It came together last year when he took about 30 songs and song fragments, put them together and realized he finally had something. "It began to feel like it might hold together as a unit. It began to feel like these stories might work as an album."

"Here at the Mayflower" is Manilow's first recording of original material since 1984's "2 A.M. Paradise Cafe." It follows more than a decade of "event" albums focusing on a theme, including the Grammy-nominated "Manilow Sings Sinatra," "Singin' with the Big Bands" and "Showstoppers."

"I grew up with all of that music. My family constantly played albums of show tunes, jazz and big bands and (Frank) Sinatra. Getting a chance to sing these songs was a thrill for me. I knew how to do it because it was in my bones. It was surrounding me during my formative musical years, as well as my own music, which was the Beatles, the Stones, Laura Nyro, and Blood Sweat and Tears. There was one foot in my pop world, but my other foot was in my parents' world of great songwriting, great interpretations. This was a wonderful experience."

Manilow also enjoys that music, he said, because of his deep respect for songwriting and arranging - crafts he fears are missing today. "Frankly, I don't hear it much on the radio anymore. I hear great groups and I hear great-sounding records and I even hear very interesting vocals. But I fear we are losing the craft of songwriting because I don't hear great songwriting. I don't hear songs that will live past that one hit record version. I can't think of many that we'll hear 10 years from now. You'll hear the particular version that artist does, and that's the last time you'll hear it. Where in the era my parents came from, and where I began, there were songs that continually were covered by artists and became a standard."

He thought about that while working on "Mayflower." "I am so bored with buying the latest pop albums, and by the fourth cut, I glaze over because they all begin to sound like they were done on the same day in the same studio with not really much to do say. I really wanted to make an album that would keep the listener's interest, would shake you up a bit and make you listen and say, What is that?'"

Last year [Manilow] signed with the prestigious Concord jazz label... "They were all about music. All they talked about was songwriting, arranging and great standards. That's what they believed in. That's the kind of music they pay attention to ... For me, it's always been about the music. These people think I'm a really wonderful songwriter and they tell me this all the time. It's such a beautiful experience. They are letting me create whatever I want. And I know that when you deal with it from that point of view, that's when you're most successful. When you're not obsessed by it, when you're just doing it for the right reasons. And I've already begun to feel it. This is a relatively smaller label, and I've gotten more positive response on this album than on anything I've done in a long time."

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