Sunday, August 16, 2009

Concert Review: Barry Manilow Brings Vegas To Mohegan Sun

Since 2005, Barry Manilow has been a headliner at the Las Vegas Hilton, but this past weekend he was able to get away for a couple of shows in New England. He brought his Las Vegas show “Ultimate Manilow: The Hits … And More” to the Mohegan Sun Arena on Saturday night.

With his song titles flashing on the giant screens, Barry Manilow appeared magically atop the staircase and danced right into the hearts of his fans with the opening number “It’s A Miracle”. Dressed in black slacks, a black collared shirt and a fire engine red sports coat, Manilow was without a doubt, the focus of the evening. Overwhelmed by the applause, he proceeded with a medley of his hits “Daybreak”, “Somewhere In The Night” and “This One’s For You”. Manilow’s 10-piece band would comprise most of the stage, taking up several levels of the staircase, but were very well hidden. Manilow took up residence at a grand piano located just left of center stage on multiple occasions, starting off with the aptly titled “Weekend In New England”. The chorus brought a huge ovation from the crowd that seemed to distract Manilow as he paused stating “I still got it”. His backup singers/dancers joined him for the dance number “Bandstand Boogie”. After a quick jacket change, Manilow returned to the piano for a couple of his top 40 hits, “Tryin’ To Get That Feeling Again” and “Even Now”. Trombone solo by opener Brian Culbertson brought out the blues in “Brooklyn Blues” written about Manilow’s hometown.

Manilow dove back to his 1973 debut album on a couple of occasions. One of the surprises of the evening was his rendition of his much requested “I Am Your Child”. The newest song of the evening came from his 2001 album “Here At The Mayflower”. Manilow fully engulfed himself in the role of the narrator/singer of the song “Not What You See” by wearing a scarf, cap and glasses. The darkly lit audience swayed blue glow sticks to the ballad of “I’ve Made It Through The Rain” before being invited by Manilow to sing along to “Can’t Smile Without You”. A spotlight shone on a lonely stool at center stage for Manilow to open his heart with a slow rendition of “Somewhere Down The Road”. “Mandy”, his first #1 single, began with a clip of Manilow on the show The Midnight Special. The glow sticks would return for his second #1 single “I Write The Songs”. Fans couldn’t resist themselves from singing along.

The disco beats of “Copacabana” brought on Manilow’s Vegas act in full force. His backup singers wore showgirl outfits as Barry Manilow acted out the lyrics. As he motioned to leave the stage, the audience cheered for more. Obliging to their demand, he finished with the patriotic “My Country ‘Tis Of Thee/Let Freedom Ring”. Throughout the performance, Manilow voice seemed in top shape, holding notes and knowing the limits of his slightly deeper tone. He was also very talkative with jokes and stories that made the audience feel comfortable. It was 90 minutes of musical pleasure presented by one of today’s greatest showman.

Brian Culbertson began the evening with some modern jazz. His 5-piece band ran through a handful of instrumentals that included a tribute to Earth, Wind & Fire. Upcoming shows at Mohegan Sun feature Taylor Swift, Counting Crows and Journey. For ticket information please visit www.mohegansun.com.

Setlist:
It’s A Miracle
Daybreak/Somewhere In The Night/This One’s For You
Looks Like We Made It
Weekend In New England
Bandstand Boogie
Tryin’ To Get The Feeling Again/Even Now
Brooklyn Blues
New York City Rhythm
I Am Your Child
Not What You See
I Made It Through The Rain
Can’t Smile Without You
Could It Be Magic
Somewhere Down The Road
Ships
Mandy
I Write The Songs
Copacabana
It’s A Miracle (reprise)
My Country ‘Tis Of Thee/Let Freedom Ring

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