Monday, March 31, 2008

Manilow Magic in Atlanta

Maybe the old songs
will bring back the old times

Maybe the old lines will sound new>
Maybe she'll lay her head on my shoulder
Maybe old feelings will come through
Maybe we'll start to cry and wonder why

We ever walked away

This show just might take a few posts to get through. When Pete and I watch a concert or video, we hash it through and try to analyze different observations. Maybe our conclusions are right, maybe not, it doesn't matter - that's just how we enjoy things.

To begin with, we were sitting in the second row, center. Just barely off of Barry's left hand. Definitely less than 15 feet from the mike stand in the center, less than 10 feet when he was standing on the hydraulic lift.

Here's a (crappy) picture, just for perspective:

I did manage to get some pictures with my point-and-pray camera. Most of them suck, although there are a few gems. If you want good pictures, someone posted a link on the BarryNet and you can get to them here. But the pictures on these posts are all mine, for whatever they're worth and will give you a feel for how we felt.

Brian Culbertson has a couple of new fans. Usually opening acts are merely tolerated but he put on a great set - he needed more than 30 minutes - and all kinds of things were impressive. Switching from keyboards to trombone. The great-looking sax player. The personality that came across in the instrumentals (NEVER seen that before). The fact that his dad was on the trumpet. The whole Earth, Wind, and Fire segment - EVERYONE around us was on their feet. Most of all, he was having a good time doing what he loved and was good at. Culbertson knew what he could do and had nothing to prove, and it showed.

Now for the main event......

The usual video opening. First time I saw this was on the M&P video shown on PBS. Much more of an impact when shown in its entirety on a big screen, and not part of a montage.

The backup singers hit the stage....

You can't see it well from here, but IMHO, they should reinstate the name "Lady Flash". Yes, even with the guy (Kye?) there. From the angle we were sitting and the way their dresses were made, nothing was left to the imagination. Nothing.

And the moment I've been waiting for since I was 5, and got delayed 2 months due to weather and the venue's judgement:

Set lists and the like are posted here and there on the BarryNet chat board. He did a bunch of favorites and for the most part, followed the bulk of the set list from the M&P show. He included a segment of cuts from this Songs of the 60s CD, and included "Brooklyn Blues".

A non-telephoto shot during "It's A Miracle"
Miracle - my sentiments exactly! Barry must think the ATL is cursed for him after a major snow and ice storm killed his first show. (I hope the VP of bookings got an earful of four-letter aria personally from the main man - the yutz had it coming.) Then a couple of weeks ago, a tornado totalled a few chunks of downtown within blocks of Philips Arena. Then thunderstorms rolled through north Georgia on Saturday afternoon. Vegas must look pretty good compared to that.

Yeah, I know it's blurry. I went to telephoto because I seriously wanted some close shots.

First impressions: If I am in half as good a shape, have half the energy, half the skill/talent, and half the looks that Barry does when I'm looking up close at 65, I will be One Happy Lady. Yes, I know, stage makeup, lighting, yadda yadda yadda. He didn't look a day over 50. And he performed like a man much younger than that even. So cut out the age jokes already, dude, you're not fooling anyone! ;-)

My favorite shot - I might need to print this, frame it, and hang it on the wall of my office. The only thing that would make it better is an inscription/autograph on it:

Somebody's having a good time! And so was I!

IMHO, the measure of professionalism is how well they hold themselves together WHEN something doesn't go exactly right. Not "if" something goes off, but WHEN. Barry spotted a few things that were off - only a couple were noticable to the audience.

Early on, he asked to turn down the echo on his mic. That wasn't the mic, bubeleh, that was the venue. You were playing in a cave designed for basketball and hockey, not concerts per se, and the acoustics show it. The echo delay back to the stage was almost a full second. Just like the old Summit and Rosemont Horizon. But eventually the sound guy got around it.
Every time I've seen someone flub a line (everyone does) they totally lose it. Someone flubbed a couple of lines in "Looks Like We Made It" and kept smiling, kept his composure and kept going. It sounds like Performance 101 - hold it together when you lose concentration, but no one does. Except Barry last night.

Now for the fun parts - the intro to the 60s segment with special herbal enhancement. I couldn't tell if the joint was real or a prop - you couldnt' smell anything and we were trying. No one who has read Sweet Life is suprised that he inhaled like a pro.

There was a dangerous combination here: I was getting frustrated that I couldn't get a really good shot (or so I thought) and I'm a four-star smartass. When Barry planted it in the chair of the set for the 60s intro, you can't imagine what it took for me to NOT yell at the top of my lungs, "BARRY, SIT STILL FOR A GODDAMN SECOND, WILLYA????" Or at least switch to decaf or something!

Oh, look! Someone brought a special treat. Do you have enough for the rest of the class? (Or at least the first couple of rows?)

"Someone is going to get a raise."

"Ah, tohellwithit."

"Have I...been, a really long time?"

Then he goes through some 60s/early 70s record jackets ("How did The Brady Bunch get in there?")

"Now there's a real desperate housewife."

All of Barry's moves (or any major act for that matter) are scripted word for word. Lots of people have seen M&P in Vegas many times. And some of the same bits have been standards in concert videos for years. (Like the "Sing It" piece and story about Grandpa Joe Manilow) You can't do this kind of banter without scripting and rehearsal - ad libbing would sound awkward. It would be easy to mail it in after so many times but Barry delivered all of these stories and bits like it was the first time.

I'll finish this up tomorrow. There's lots more. It's 2:30 AM after a Very. Long. Weekend. and I finally need some sleep sometime.

1 comment:

  1. Great "shadow" picture! I know what you mean about him sitting still. Half my pictures are of the side of his face because by the time my camera focuses he has turned. That opening montage is one of my favorite parts of the show. It gives me goosebumps every time! I am enjoying your analysis..can't wait to hear more. Loved, loved, loved the Old Songs opening....