You wouldn’t know that it was his final farewell tour by his performance. Barry Manilow hit the stage at the Resch Center with a smile on his face and more energy than other performers half his age. Sure, he might have slowed down a bit from the 1970’s version of himself, but the connection between himself and the crowd was undeniable.
A brief opening set by jazz saxophonist Dave Koz went over fairly well. Especially with a medley that had the crowd dancing to snippets of covers by Kool & the Gang, Stevie Wonder and Earth, Wind & Fire.
With as many chart toppers as he’s had, it was literally one hit song after another once Barry Manilow took to the stage. Starting and ending with “It’s A Miracle”, there were several montages just to fit most of the songs into his performance. Even so… some of the crowd favorites were played in full, much to the delight of those in attendance. “Weekend In New England”, “Even Now”, “This One’s For You” “Somewhere Down the Road” and “Mandy” sounded just as relevant as they did decades ago. Making use of the large video screen behind him, he was able to go back in time and sing duets with Judy Garland and a younger version of himself. Nostalgia played a big part of the night. It was not only embraced, but it was
The unsung heroes of the night, his backing band, get huge props for their spot on performances and rich sounding orchestration. And when they took a break multiple times to let Mr. Manilow perform solo on his piano, a stark contrast to the huge band sound, it was magic. Another nice touch was bringing out the University of Green Bay Choir for the last few songs.
In a world full of performers that will claim they are done touring yet are back a few years later… one can’t help but feel that this is really it for Barry. In his early seventies and with some health issues recently, it’s better to decide when you’re done than have your health decide for you. His entire career has been handled with humility and grace. It’s only fitting that his final tour offers both as well.