Last night, Jeff sat on the couch holding a set of tickets in his hand. He said, “I never though I would have Barry Manilow tickets as a souvenir.”
A legitimate thought. What nonfan expects to see the Justin Bieber of the’70s (Barry’s words, not mine) in person?
It began as an idea to help my parents celebrate their 35th wedding anniversary. They are the epitome of the impossible-to-buy-for couple. They don’t go out or on trips a because of my brother, and when they want anything, they buy it. I can give Mom gifts, but Dad is especially difficult, as he doesn’t really do trinkets and baubles and jewelry like Mom.
And Mom LOVES Barry. I grew up with him because of her. One of our many songs — we are a family that loves music — is “Can’t Smile Without You.” It’s a cheese factory, but what a sweet ditty.
But if they came to visit, I could watch Joey. They could leave him at our house and go see one of my mom’s favorite artists ever. She’s always wanted to see him, and I through it would be a wonderful surprise.
The problem: She hates surprises. And traveling is hard with Joey. And they were just in town a few weeks ago for a shower my almost- mother- and sister-in-law threw for me.
When I found out I wouldn’t be babysitting, I toyed with going myself. So when Travelzoo sent me an email that it was selling tickets for $9.99, I cleared it with Jeff that he would let me drag him, and I bought the crap out of two tickets.
The day of the concert, we wondered what the average age of the crowd would be. I guessed my mom’s age, 55.
I was off by about a decade — most of the audience was likely between 60 and 65 — and was met with another surprising crowd stat: Lesbians love Manilow. I had absolutely no idea.
When the ticket-taker scanned our tickets, the scanner beeped; we were being upgraded! Our cheapo seats would have assured that Barry was hardly larger than a tick, but our newfound upgrades made it possible to actually see the man, who had bronchitis and admittedly seemed as though he wouldn’t make it to the end of the concert. But he stuck it out. He may not have hit any of those legendary last notes, but the man sounded better than 75 percent of today’s radio-play. Yes, the man’s still got it.
He shared that he had a birthday this month.
“I’m going to be 35 … HA! Times two!”
This man in the glitter blue smoking jacket is 70 this month?? Unbelievable. He showed his age only a few times. In the background of some songs, a video played of a television performance. Once announced the date as 1975, and an impossibly young Clive Davis told the viewing audience that the man he was introducing would surely take America by storm. Cut to a baby Barry at a piano, belting out “Mandy.” The Barry on the state sang a duet with his thirtysomething self, a truly amazing thing to behold.
By the end of the show, Barry was limping, showing some pain from his recent hip surgery. He congratulated himself on making it through the whole concert, admitting that he had wondered if he’d cut it short because of his illness.
I bought a concert tee, because when you go to a Barry Manilow concert, you indulge in the kitsch. Isn’t it awesome?
When we got home, Jeff — who, admittedly, had never been much of a Barry fan — got on iTunes and listened to a ton of his music.
Don’t like, you know you can boogie to some Barry. What’s your fav song by him? Aside from “Can’t Smile Without You,” I heard “Brooklyn Blues” for the first time at the concert, and I dug the jazzy feel. And don’t even talk to me about “Copacabana.” If that’s your favorite Barry song, it’s time to listen to more, my friend.