Are you a closet Fanilow? If you were around in the 70’s or the 80’s, some Barry Manilow songs are likely the soundtrack of at least one of your most cherished memories. Just a few piano notes of “Trying To Get The Feeling”, “Mandy”, or “Even Now”, will get your mind racing. Barry Manilow is now 70 years young and still putting countless artists to shame with his high energy concerts that clearly show he’s still loving entertaining his fans.
Surprisingly, Barry Manilow’s concert at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on January 31, 2014 was only $30 with a special Groupon deal. What a bargain it turned out to be. When you entered the show, you were given neon flares to create a special connection with the rest of the audience. I’m sure they only cost a couple of dollars but why don’t more bands jump on this added bonus, it really added to the atmosphere. Barry hit the stage and immediately got the crowd out of their seats with “It’s A Miracle” and “Could It Be Magic”. After the upbeat openers, he sincerely thanked everyone for coming out. “Can you believe we’ve been friends for almost 40 years now?” Then Barry went to the piano for the brilliant “Looks Like We Made It”. If you weren’t emotionally hooked at this point, you’re likely a Bieber/Miley Cyrus fan and you’re in for a long night.
It was hit after hit…..check out the setlist. You’ll even notice a Hank Williams/Garth Brooks cover snuck into the mix! Another surprise moment came when Barry told the audience about his “Manilow Music Project”. He said if wasn’t for high school band class, he never would be on this stage today. The arts are essential for our youth and Barry’s charity has funded countless band instruments for students in need. A spotlight appeared on the first row as Barry applauded a Tampa high school band teacher (34 years teaching) who was treated to a VIP night including limo service and backstage passes to the show for him and his wife. “Copacabana”, “Bandstand Boogie”, and even covers of the Four Seasons “Let’s Hang On” and “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You” kept the energy and nostalgia high all night.
Of course, no Manilow concert would be complete without some of the most beautiful ballads ever heard on radio. People were wiping tears of joy listening to Barry utter those words “and when will I see you again…..” during “Weekend In New England”. Imagine hearing “I Made It Through The Rain” and “This One’s For You” live in person. For the encore, the giant stage movie screen showed Barry singing “Mandy” in 1975 on the Midnight Special. Midway through the recorded version, Barry got on the piano and showed everyone he’s still got it. Then came the finale, “I Write The Songs”…as the streamers came down, you realized you just witnessed a master at work.
“MANDY” Tampa 1/31/14
“WEEKEND IN NEW ENGLAND” Tampa 1/31/14
“IT’S A MIRACLE” From 1975