Three years after he announced his retirement, Bazza is still at it bringing melodrama and self-mockery to an underrated, wide-ranging back catalogue
Ill probably miss the excitement, but Im calling it One Last Time and I mean it today at least, said Barry Manilow in 2015, as he announced his final tour dates. Three years later, with more shows being added all the time (the latest in Las Vegas), theres still no sign that the 75-year-old is going to stop. And who can blame him? He is still inspiring Manilowmania. The singers intro tape Underworlds Born Slippy, of all things is enough to prompt generations of screaming Fanilows to wave their glow sticks and turn the arena into a giant rave.
He bounces on, all glittery jacket and alarmingly tight trousers. His septuagenarian face is eerily unlined and his bouffant has barely changed a hair since 1991. Its a miracle, he sings, before introducing himself as Barry Manilow or as you call me, Bazza.
Bazza has been comedy/satire gold for all sorts of entertainers, but few are as adept at sending him up as he is himself. He refers to albums recorded in 1821 and says that he began touring when I was a foetus. A section devoted to his beloved New York requires the Fanilows to wear 3D glasses in order to hurtle with Bazza around the Manhattan skyline and ends with him singing in front of an old cinema showing Young Nympho and Infrasexon. So whats your 75-year-old granddad doing tonight? he asks, to roars of laughter.