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Barry Manilow…The Anti-Christ?

Posted on February 5, 2009

Okay, maybe not the Anti-Christ, but perhaps a lessor demon?

I had the opportunity to ponder the question last night at the Barry Manilow concert at the Verizon Wireless Arena.  I was coerced into attending by a member of the administration who has suffered merciless teasing from me because of her deep abiding love of Barry.  We’ll call her Ellen Salicki for the purposes of this post.

Ellen S. caught me in a moment of weakness when the concert was first announced and there I was last night, blue “Barry Manilow” glow stick in hand, wondering if a convoy of nursing home buses had broken down near the arena and sheltered their gray-haired passengers in rows 1 through 100.

But no, no — these were stalwart Barry fans reliving the songs of their youth with the ageless Barry (actually, aged 65, but the wonders of plastic surgery were on full display.  I later confessed to my daughter that Barry’s real heyday was in the 70s, my high school years, and that his hit Mandy was a slow dance and make-out song (though lagging behind the prom favorite Color My World).

She was disgusted.  Not at the thought of her father making out in high school, but at the thought that Barry provided the amorous soundtrack for those adolescent hormonally charged moments.

So here’s the deal.  I actually found myself enjoying Barry more than I like to admit.  He’s the consummate Vegas showman and his band was tight and his backup singers stronger voiced than him at this point and he knew what his audience wanted.  Barry wasn’t going to make any experimental forays into hip-hop.  He belted out his hits and people loved it and I was surprised at how many of the lyrics I remembered and found myself singing (admittedly under my breath).

And those people with the gray hair and more inclined to sit, even in the front rows, than stand and sway?  Well, my own hair is somewhere between gray and silver.   These were my songs too when radio was our primary source of music and AM was as big as FM and long before satellite and MP3s.  My first album was Who’s Next and my kids would think it as outdated and quaint as Barry. Like so much in life, it’s all about vantage point.

So who am I to judge?  Barry played for his fans, they sang along, knew every word, and everyone seemed to have a wonderful time and you can’t ask much more from a concert.  We ducked out ten minutes before the end for safety’s sake (think of all those cars with left blinkers on…) and we listened to Elvis Costello on the way home.  But earlier this morning I found myself humming the tune of Mandy and smiling.

Just don’t tell Ellen S.

3 thoughts on “Barry Manilow…The Anti-Christ?

  1. Ellen says:

    I must admit, I missed you at Barry’s encore of Copacabana. I think he was looking for you in the audience!
    Thanks for enjoying his music and showmanship with me.

  2. Paul Leblanc says:

    If Ellen wishes to divulge her identity is such a blatant manner I can take no responsibility for the ribbing she has just invited from others…

  3. Dwayne Kwan says:

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