There’s no maybe about it. Those old songs did bring back the old times and MADE ME WANT TO STAY!
If you have no idea what I’m talking about then you’re probably not a Barry Manilow fan. If that’s the case, I feel bad for you because it’s SO MUCH FUN BEING A FANILOW!
Me and 6,000 of my closest friends were on hand Wednesday night to witness the showman himself in action. OK fine, I didn’t know all 6,000 people. I only knew like 35 of them.
Back in mid-January a co-worker mentioned that Barry was coming to Omaha at the end of February and tickets ranged from $7.99 up in to the $100’s. We all giggled at the thought of a Barry Manilow concert and then thought, hey wouldn’t it be fun to sing and dance the night away to the likes of Copacabana and Mandy? The more we talked about it, the more appealing it became. Particularly if we only spent $8 a ticket! That’s all the more money for food and booze!
Being the social butterfly and “woo” person that I am, I decided to send an email to female co-workers who may be interested, to see if we could get a group to go.
Little did I know 30 people would jump on board! People were not only interested but also signed up to bring their friends, moms, sisters and one even brought her husband!
So I bought us all tickets together and we were off to the races.
However, we had a lot of time on our hands between buying the tickets and the actual show, which got us to thinking.
T-shirts. We need t-shirts.
We didn’t just want to show up to the show. We wanted to make a statement while doing it. So we tossed some ideas around and then decided the best course of action was to keep it simple. We bought some iron-on transfers, 30 white t-shirts and made up a simple design that said “I Barry”.
We also planned out a dinner so that we could all
stuff our faces with pizza eat before the show.
Finally Leap Day rolled around and the time was upon us! I actually wore my t-shirt to work, classed up with a red scarf. I’m loud and I’m proud!
Dinner was fun and really helped us all get amped up for the show! While there, we took a picture of everyone wearing their “I Barry” shirts.
Notice the photo bomber in the background? Lovely.
Then it was time to head to the arena!
Our seats were actually not too bad for being super cheap. We were in the last row of the first “bowl area” in the arena.
We found our seats and got comfie. Out of nowhere, an usher comes up and says he has 7 tickets on the main floor if any of us are interested in going down.
Wait, that sounds bad. He wasn’t propositioning us. We didn’t have to “go down” to get the tix. He just handed them over.
So to the main floor we went!
We no sooner got to our new seats when the lights dimmed and all of a sudden a spotlight hit the stage. The curtains parted and there he was – Mr. Manilow himself! The crowd was on their feet and going wild. We all assumed there would be an opening act so when it went right in to the main show, we were thrilled!
And what a show it was!
He sang our favorite songs, told all kinds of stories, showed old footage and even showered us with streamers.
You know those people at concerts who sit right behind you and are loud and obnoxious? The ones who yell things to the artist, dance like crazy and knock in to you, kick over the chairs next to you and sing at the top of their lungs?
Yeah, that was us.
To be honest, I wasn’t really a Fanilow when I decided to get a group together for this concert. I thought it would just be a good excuse to have a girl’s night. But I’m a Fanilow now!
Barry was so charming, funny and personable. He told us a story of how his Russian grandfather knew little Barry had music in him and so would take him to Times Square (they lived in Brooklyn) every Saturday. There, they would go to a booth where you could record your voice on a 45 record. He wanted 4-year old Barry to sing “Happy Birthday”. 4-year old Barry thought grandpa was nuts. He played us one of the actual recordings and you could hear his grandfather talking in his Russian accent and encouraging Barry to sing! Little Barry just jibber-jabbered, unsure what to do. It was really neat to hear that scratchy recording.
Perhaps my favorite part was when he sang “Mandy.” He left the stage and it went dark. Then on the video screen they showed old footage of Barry making his television debut singing Mandy on “The Midnight Special”.
The audience became mesmerized by this young kid singing a song we all know and love when suddenly the spotlight hit the piano on stage and there was current day Barry, in a white jacket, and he started singing a duet with his younger self! At first he was singing off of what the video was doing (not sure if on purpose or because he couldn’t find the same rhythm) but then all of sudden they synced up and were in perfect unison. Even at age 68 his voice sounds great and together they sounded like one voice. It was so neat and actually gave me goose bumps.
He talked too about the hip surgery he had a few months ago and how he was laid up in bed for 2 whole months. Though he walked around the stage a lot and even did a few hip shakes (sort of), you could tell he wasn’t moving as freely as perhaps he used to. He looked particularly stiff as the show drew towards a close. He could hardly bend over for his final bow.
But never-the-less, he gave it his all and his voice sounded fantastic.
We had a lot of fun playing with the streamers too.
On our way out I grabbed some of them and wrapped myself up. I wanted to take Barry home with me!
To add to the excitement, our group was mentioned in the newspaper review of the concert!
“They gathered in groups of three and four [or 30], towed along husbands, wore T-shirts that said “I Barry” and waved signs that said “Pick me” hoping to get onstage.”
So there you have it – my night with Barry Manilow. In all seriousness, it was one of the best concerts I’ve been to. The singing was great, the songs were fun and he really connected with the audience. Hey, the man’s been doing this for decades….he’s a pro and it showed.
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