The show began with a neat video presentation on the giant videoboard. As Manilow took the hallowed Lunt-Fontanne Theater stage, he was greeted with a lengthy standing ovation from the New York audience. Backed by a gifted band of multi-instrumentalists and three background vocalists, Manilow was able to get them on their feet with his opening number “New York City Rhythm.”
“Thank you so much for coming to our show. It’s great to be on Broadway at the Lunt-Fontanne Theater,” he acknowledged. “Let’s get this party started,” he said and immediately broke into “Daybreak,” which he praised for its strong melodies. Manilow noted that these days there is a lack of melodies in songs that are played on the radio. Fortunately for his fans, melodies are alive and well at the Lunt-Fontanne Theater.
“Looks Like We Made It” was an expressive and powerful performance, and he had the crowd clapping and singing along with him on “Can’t Smile Without You,” as the lyrics displayed on the televised screens.
Manilow opened up about his roots, growing up in Brooklyn, New York. While these days, Brooklyn may be more on the “fancier” side, he noted that in his youth, it was more of a slum and his family struggled. “Brooklyn Blues” was about his upbringing and he is proud of the song since Brooklyn is still the place that keeps him grounded and humble.
One of the most poignant songs of the evening was “This One’s for You,” which he dedicated to his late grandfather, who picked up that Manilow was talented even from a young age. The images towards the end of this well-crafted tune of him and his grandfather, that displayed on the screen, left the audience in tears. This performance was filled with raw emotions and it is evident that he made his grandpa proud.
After an impressive sax solo and an outfit change, he sang one of his newer original songs “This Is My Town,” where he took his fans on a virtual tour of New York City as they wore 3-D glasses. Manilow underscored his love for the sounds, smells, sights, and music of New York. “Maybe not the smells,” he said, jokingly.
It was followed by a smooth and sultry rendition of “On Broadway,” where purple and red lights dimmed from the stage. “Even Now” was a controlled ballad that had a stirring vibe to it, as it showcases his ability to hit the high notes.
His three backing vocalists joined him on stage for an upbeat version of “Let’s Hang On,” which had a neat arrangement to it as he paid homage to Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons.
Manilow was able to pacify his listers with a refreshing take on “Weekend in New England,” which was sheer bliss. “Thank you. You’re a romantic crowd,” he told the audience, following the warm reception. “I love doing this,” he added.
He also treated us to several of his commercial jingles that were popular on television. He picked up the pace with an uplifting version of “It’s a Miracle” and honored the Broadway musical Cats with his own version of “Memory.” He shared that only he and Barbra Streisand had versions of that song that were the most successful from a commercial standpoint.
“Memory” earned him a tremendous standing ovation, as did both the ballad and disco version of “Could It Be Magic” that followed. “Thank you. You are just too much,” he told the crowd. “Now this sex God has to six down,” he added, and went on to sing “I Made It Through the Rain.”
He extended his gratitude and love to his audience for all the years, stating that this level of success was something he never dreamed of.
During his chart-topping ballad “Mandy,” he showed a video of him performing the song in the ’70s on the giant screen, and they delivered his own distinct version of the song as the older video played in the background. It is clear that he still possesses the same talent, charisma, and charm as when he first released “Mandy,” and he proved that he is one timeless performer.
Of course, no Barry Manilow concert is complete with his powerhouse tunes “I Write the Songs” and “Copacabana (at the Copa),” and he did them both justice.
Overall, Barry Manilow was able to put on a fantastic show at the Lunt-Fontanne Theater in Manhattan as part of his limited three-week engagement. He took his fans on a journey through time with his music, and there was a feeling of nostalgia in the venue. This production was superb from a technological standpoint (with green glow sticks and 3-D glasses) and the music was top-notch.
His birth certificate may say Barry Alan Pincus, however, in many ways, Barry Manilow is still in a league of his own.
Manilow’s musical catalog is iconic and he was able to touch his listeners on an emotional level. His compositions are part of the Great American Songbook, and they will stand the test of time since they don’t make music like that anymore.
This show is also a substantial indication that Barry Manilow deserves to be inducted as a future member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a significant musical influence to the generations that followed, and simply because he still rocks. His live set at the Lunt-Fontanne Theater garnered five out of five stars.