Friday, April 4, 2008

Forever and a Day

Finally I can get everything else down! It's hard to sit at the computer and focus on organizing words when my 2 1/2-year-old, recently dubbed "The Littlest Fanilow" (because she's obsessed w/ Barry's videos) needs attention and playtime.
So where did I leave off...? Oh, right, the 60s segment!
The three backup girls were in the Supremes outfits, Barry and Kye were on their own for a bit. I think this was typical according to other accounts where this segment was included. The end of the segment was interesting and I'm going to have to make a few guesses here - so if I'm wrong, I'm wrong.

Toward the end of the segment (with "What the World Needs Now") the "atmosphere screen" (where the opening video was played at the start of the show, displayed the smiley face during "Can't Smile..." etc) started displaying more contemporary images with social and political messages - namely the AIDS quilt, "peace" images, etc. There are a couple of ways to express sociopolitical ideas in entertainment and media. The least effective, and yet the most common one, is the direct and loud confrontation or insulting lecture. When the media portrays a political statement by a public person, it's always in the realm of absolutes - "I'm right, anyone who disagrees with me is not only wrong but evil". My sociopolitical views run toward the conservative, so I tend to notice this mostly in the entertainment/media industry. Of course, one whose perspective is left-of-center would notice this same fault more in other fields. It's simple human nature to point out slights in groups or people that you tend to disagree with.

Barry's brief expression in his show was neither confrontational, nor bullying, nor condescending. It was a simple expression of what he felt was important. Based on what little is available in the media regarding Barry's POV on any given issue (and assuming even that is accurate) I suspect that if our solutions to current events were lined up side-by-side, we'd end up "agreeing to disagree" on quite a lot. But I got the sense that that was OK this time around - the gentle approach simply invites the viewer to contemplate world issues individually. That way, the common ground comes about more easily.

There were a couple of moments when I felt "too close" to the stage. (Yes, that's really possible.) One was "New York City Rhythm". The "round robin" with the other three guys (I don't mean that to sound insulting, I honestly don't have everyone's name memorized) has to be seen from above to be appreciated and the camera crews captured it for the big screens. The other time was the end of "Copacabana". Feathery pretzels. Feathery pretzels eating the 3 girls. Scary. Very scary. Obviously meant to be seen from a distance. Otherwise - let's just say I'm glad that joint from the 60s segment didn't get passed around. ;-)
"Mandy" was a big highlight. On video, it just looks "cute" that he's harmonizing with his 30-year-younger self. But live it took on a grander dimension. Referring again to Sweet Life, there was a good reason he looked scared to death on The Midnight Special - he was! So performing side-by-side with that video was like showing that he survived all of the problems and conflicts of his earlier career days and is still around to talk about it.

Gotta talk about the other fans. Pete and I were expecting all kinds of crazy things. We were relieved to see a whole lot of harmless fun. Like the lady one row behind us with her two daughters in matching homemade shirts and a 6-foot neon-pink sign. And four ladies with feather boas. Didn't know what the deal was there, but visitors to Philips Arena in the future should know that the bars do NOT water the booze! The strawberry daquiris from the Tiki Bar are especially strong.

The only place we ran into weirdness was on the way to the parking lot. Pete, ever the Southern Gentleman, let me use our one umbrella while he braved the drizzle. Some little dude I had never seen before in my life jumped underneath and walked next to me for half a block, chattering away as if he was my long lost preschool pal. I figured he would eventually go away but Pete is ready to persuade him physically to move along. Then some chickieboo that I also had never seen before asked me "Are you a Fanilow?" My jaw dropped open. She may as well have been speaking Martian, my reaction was that blank. You have to realize that Pete is One Big Guy and very protective of his wife. Inviting yourself into our personal space is done at your own risk. So if you're reading this, Creepy Bald Guy With Beady Eyes and Weird Girl With Stringy Black Hair, keep your distance from people you don't know or someone will enforce that distance with less generosity to your person than my husband. That is all.

Final Random Observations:

Air cannons with streamers and confetti. Perfect fun ending to a perfect fun show! I wonder if this is for Barry's entertainment as much as ours! I laughed and my mouth filled with confetti. I got in the car and confetti was on the floor. Getting undressed for bed there was a pile of confetti in the closet that fell out of my blouse. So to the stage hands - I think you have enough confetti. The leftovers with streamers, my ticket stubs, and glowsticks are sitting in a vase on my nightstand.

Barry's "game face" in his performance is perfect. Most musicians I have met or even just seen fall into one of two categories. The first is the one who has a lot going on in his/her head and every last word of it comes out his mouth. Then he gets pissy and defensive when everyone knows what he thinks and does in his private life, or it otherwise comes back to bite him in the ass. The other one is just the opposite - nothing in their head at all. All foam, no beer. Wheel is spinning but the hamster's dead. Nothing between the ears but a strong breeze. Barry bridges those two extremes. You could see in his face, in a way, that there is much, MUCH more to Barry than what is on stage. And there is a very strict line between what he shares on stage (or otherwise to the public) and what he doesn't. The world is probably a much happier place when those of us in the audience just steer clear of that line and let what's private stay that way.

When you're enjoying his concert, you only remember the songs he DOES sing. It was only a couple of days after I got home that I realized "Hey, he didn't do that song." It didn't matter a bit. You enjoy it so much that it doesn't matter one bit what he had to leave out - it's all great and all fun.

I think I understand why some people feel Barry is singing "only to them" in a show, even a major arena. He projects straight to the back of the venue and spends very little time looking right at the rows in front of him. You'd be amazed at how many performers look straight down at their shoes, or across to their bandmates most of their show. I don't think he's "giving" out emotion to the audience members; I think he draws out what's already there. So each person can imprint on the show what they're already feeling.

The finale "Forever and a Day" was sung from the lift where he introduced the 60s segment. It was just as emotional as everyone says it is. I tried to sing along but nothing would come out, so I'm mouthing the words. Eventually I had to give up singing along because the only thought was "don'tcrydon'tcrydon'tcrydon'tcrydon'tcrydon'tcrydon'tcrydon'tcrydon'tcry". The tears receded before they overflowed. Hearing this song with Barry singing it 10 feet away was like getting a hug. This was how we all felt:

My first time getting to see Barry live, after a lifetime of waiting for the chance and it was everything I wanted, needed, and hoped for. Good thing, because unless plans change and he makes a return trip, this will be the only time. I'd like to be wrong about that. It also would be nice if I could return the favor to Barry for the music he's given and the effect it's had. Can't waste too much energy on that idea. But if the situation presents itself, I'll be there with bells on.

Thank you for everything, Barry. It's amazing what you can do when you're in the right place at the right time.

(PS - the photo that I said needed to be framed found its way into an 8x10 this week. The afterglow is still there. Pete's fraternity pledge brother, who we hadn't seen in years visited our home today. His exact quote was, "Geez, you really look happy!" Well, I have a lot to be happy about these days!)


  1. I really enjoyed reading all about your experience at Barry's concert. You have a whole different "fresh" approach to viewing and observing his show. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences with us!


  2. Glad you enjoyed it as much as I did. It's fun to write and more than that, it's fun to dig in and analyze and pick apart and really get into what's going on up there. Cheers!

  3. The long wait was definitely worth it. You sure made me see the show from a whole different perspective. I 2nd the comments about "Forever and a Day". Everytime I see him sing that song LIVE it moves me differently. There just isn't any other performer like him, and I've seen tons of them, including Streisand. He sets the bar so high that every other concert experience just never measures up.

  4. I never thought I was doing anything unique by analyzing a show - or "crawling into" it, to paraphrase Barry. I have friends in the industry who have told me all kinds of stories from the road and how fans and promoters and venues and whatnot are all dealt with. I even got some insight from past tour managers of various acts about tour financing, insurance policies, logistics, and how decisions get made. For me, it makes the "magic" that much more interesting and enjoyable. Glad I was able to pass it on!