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Review: Barry Manilow brings his ‘A Very Barry Christmas’ TV special to NBC

On Monday, December 11, “A Very Barry Christmas” TV special, starring Barry Manilow, premiered on NBC.

Barry Manilow performing in 'A Very Barry Christmas'
Barry Manilow performing in 'A Very Barry Christmas.' Jocelyn Prescod, NBC
Barry Manilow performing in 'A Very Barry Christmas.' Jocelyn Prescod, NBC

On Monday, December 11, “A Very Barry Christmas” TV special premiered on NBC. This show was a blend of Barry Manilow’s pop songs and holiday music.

As soon as Manilow took the stage, he was greeted with a standing ovation from the studio audience in Las Vegas (where it was filmed).

He kicked off his set on a joyful note with “Happy Holiday.” “Merry Christmas, everybody,” Manilow exclaimed.

“Oh, what fun, it’s a great crowd too,” he said. “Thanks so much for coming to our show. Good evening. Let me introduce myself properly, I’m Barry. I’m Barry Manilow.”

A Grammy winner, Manilow went on to introduce his band members as his “Christmas elves,” whom he dubbed as “some of the most talented people you’ve ever seen.”

“We’ve got snow, we’ve got trees. Call me your skinny singing Santa Claus,” he said and immediately broke into “Christmas Is Just Around The Corner.”

“This is one of my pop songs,” Manilow said and segued into “Daybreak,” which was a controlled and resonant performance. Equally remarkable was the expressive “Somewhere in the Night,” which was incorporated as a medley with “This One’s For You.”

It was followed by an upbeat and witty version of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” that was quite refreshing. “Thanks, you’re just great,” Manilow told the audience.

He continued with a stirring and poignant rendition of “All I Want For Christmas is You,” which he jokingly noted should not be confused with “All I Want For Christmas (Is My Two Front Teeth).” “I like them both,” he admitted.

He delivered a distinct and rousing version of “Jingle Bells. “You need to do ‘Jingle Bells’ in a Christmas show, it’s the law,” Manilow said.

Manilow went to his piano to perform “Even Now,” which stands out sonically, vocally, and lyrically (the words are pure poetry); moreover, he was able to hit the high notes at the end, leaving his audience members in total awe.

“I love this song so much,” Manilow said, and rightfully so.

He was able to take his fans on a trip down memory lane with “Mandy” through the video screen (back when he performed it in 1975) and segued to his piano-laden version in the present.

His chart-topping ballad “Mandy” was sheer nostalgia, and it was done with a medley of “Could It Be Magic,” which was an added treat.

Equally noteworthy was “I Write the Songs,” where he encouraged his fans to sing along with him. “Sounds good,” he said, complimenting the crowd. He really proud his heart in this song, and it earned him a standing ovation.

Manilow picked up the pace with his signature hit “Copacabana.” Following a TV commercial break, he went on to share a few of “My Favorite Things.” “And that’s a band all right,” Manilow underscored.

Santa Claus also made a cameo at his show, and he invited some kids up on stage with him, that were waiting in the wings, for a “cornball Christmas medley.”

He serenaded the fans with “Deck the Halls,” “Jingle Bell Rock,” and “Feliz Navidad.” “You guys sounded great, in tune, and everything,” Manilow said.

He closed his show on a fitting note with “Because It’s Christmas (For All The Children,” where he accompanied himself on piano and was joined by the Las Vegas Academy of the Arts Choir, and the iconic crooner left the crowd yearning to hear more.

“Happy Holidays, everybody,” Manilow concluded, and rounded out his show with the up-tempo “It’s a Miracle,” as everyone was clapping along with him.

The Verdict

Overall, Barry Manilow proved that he is the ultimate showman this holiday season with “A Very Barry Christmas” special on NBC. Manilow was able to captivate his audience from start to finish. There is something this holiday show for the entire family.

With this special, it is evident that Manilow is like fine wine where he only gets better with age and wisdom. Even at the age of 80, his velvet vocals were heavenly and he is still at the top of his game musically. “A Very Barry Christmas” garnered five out of five stars.

Markos Papadatos
Written By

Markos Papadatos is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for Music News. Papadatos is a Greek-American journalist and educator that has authored over 20,000 original articles over the past 18 years. He has interviewed some of the biggest names in music, entertainment, lifestyle, magic, and sports. He is a 16-time "Best of Long Island" winner, where for three consecutive years (2020, 2021, and 2022), he was honored as the "Best Long Island Personality" in Arts & Entertainment, an honor that has gone to Billy Joel six times.

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