Barry Manilow review fine, funny farewell to a titan of schmaltz

Three years after he announced his retirement, Bazza is still at it bringing melodrama and self-mockery to an underrated, wide-ranging back catalogue

Bazza

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.

Barry
Barry Manilow. Photograph: Andrew Benge/Redferns

Manilow was never cool or cred, but this 95-minute show is funny, endearing and reaches into his catalogue to reveal that there is more to him than mega-selling schmaltz. Bermuda Triangle is strings-soaked melodrama; Stay is gentle disco. Looks Like We Made It with the crowd joining in becomes an emotional anthem of survival. The singer came out last year (revealing a 40-year relationship and marriage), and I Made It Through the Rain (I kept my world protected ) suddenly has a new significance. Still, when he asks, When can I touch you? in classy MOR ballad Weekend in New England and someone screams Now!, he cant resist quipping, Really? Still?

Recent Big Apple eulogy This is My Town aside, most of the set comes from the 70s, and his songs were already heavy on nostalgia then. Much of it casts him as a sentimental Broadway showman an added-sugar Tony Bennett or Stephen Sondheim. But a monologue on his impoverished Brooklyn childhood is oddly moving, and a crackly old record-booth 7-inch of his grandfather urging three-year-old Bazza to Sing, Barry brings the house down. Several decades on, his speaking voice is huskier than usual and fleeting frailties towards the end suggest how difficult it must be to keep doing it at this age, but he palpably retains the thrill of singing and performing.

He duets with his younger self on Mandy, delivers Could It Be Magic both as a ballad and the disco version which was a hit for Donna Summer and Take That, and turns I Write the Songs and Copacabana (At the Copa) into visual spectacles with a huge, gown-wearing choir from Opera North. Bazza may joke about his legacy (I hope my songs will be ruining elevators for years to come), but this is a fine, fun farewell from one of the last old-school showmen.

Original Article : HERE ; This post was curated & posted using : RealSpecific

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