Archive for April 30, 2007
Anticipating “Music and Passion” at the Las Vegas Hilton
Every generation has their heart throb. Today Justin Timberlake titillates young women and gay men everywhere with his high sexy voice, smooth dance moves, and cocky demeanor. In the 80s George Michael filled girls’ rooms everywhere with his poster displaying his rough five o’clock shadow, black leather jacket, and skin tight blue jeans. Yes, every generation has a man to lust after. But as every decade comes and goes so does the heart throb attached with it. Their looks fade with time and they are no longer the sweet pieces of meat that they once were. This is pretty much the standard procedure for famous idols. They have their time in the sun and then they fade away as fast as the night. However, there are the rare few who go beyond all expectations and who linger around longer than they were supposed to. The elite that are still able to capture audiences in their old age and maintain the prestigious status that they held in their youth. While these men are uncommon, they can still be found. And one such man that has been able to captivate audiences for over 40 years comes in the form of Barry Manilow.
While no one has ever accused Barry Manilow of ever being a sexy young thing, he was and still is viewed as a heart throb. While many would doubt this claim, seeing as how Barry is a short Jewish man with wavy blond streaked hair and a face that has seen more botox than Joan Rivers, his popularity and heart throb status can not be argued, solely judged by his concert at the Las Vegas Hilton. I had the opportunity to not only attend Barry’s concert, but was fortunate enough to sit on the second row stage side at his April 26th show. Now I have been a Barry Manilow fan ever since the 8th grade. His songs have lifted me through rough, angry times and made me forget the world. I have an appreciation for him which runs deep and I am an avid fan and supporter. However, even with my profound respect and admiration for Barry, I was expecting a somewhat paraplegic performance from him. I figured that he would have a glass of water in his hand at all times and that I would be lucky if he stood for more than 3 songs. I also thought I would be stuck in an audience full of seniors hooked up to oxygen tanks and IV drips. It turns out that I was wrong about all of the above, well maybe except for the part about the ailing seniors.
Barry Manilow pauses and prepares for the Copacabana at the concert
What I am about to say is a great claim to make, but I am going to make it anyway. Barry Manilow is the greatest performer of the century. How can this be you may wonder? The man is ancient, he looks like the love child of Siegfried and Roy, and to be perfectly honest the man’s singing about his deep love for the opposite sex while he obviously bats
for the other team. Well even with all those factors playing against him let me just ask you this. Do you know any other 63-year old man who can dance and belt out songs for two solid hours with out stopping for a breather? Do you know any old man who can get away with wearing multi-colored neon jackets and shake his bony rear end to a crowd and still get sighs from 70 year old women in the audience? Do you know any man who can get people out of their wheel chairs and shaking what’s left of their decaying bodies to the Copacabana? Well the answer is that there is only one man who can do all this, and that man is non other than Barry Manilow.
Winding down at the end of the show
His performance at the concert was outstanding. He never stopped moving. He has a genuine compassion to his voice that can make any soul on this earth trust him with their life savings. This trust and compassion, mixed with a jaw dropping talent on the piano and a voice that still belts out the high notes for seconds on end, is all encompassed in what is Barry Manilow. Barry’s concert was in no way shape or form a disappointment. He sang all his hits one after the other. He riled up the crowd and even brought up one lucky soul to come up and slow dance with him. He won the crowd over within seconds and I got to see it all up close from the second row, with my very own Barry Manilow champagne glass (which I had them fill with orange juice) and a personalized Barry Manilow glow stick (all of which came free with the my seat, seeing as how I had to pay a pretty penny to get the upfront action). Looking in the crowd I was the youngest person there at the ripe age of 19. But being there made me feel sorry for my generation. The songs on the radio today are about the pure superficial nature of love, or I should say lust. No one is digging deeper. We get lyrics like “I saw you in the club! I’d like to go take you and make sweet love!” and that’s what my generation is plugging into, as where Barry is singing about something deeper, something more than skin deep. Sure it may sound a bit idealistic, but isn’t that what songs are for. To take you out of reality for just three or four sweet minutes and make you forget about the harsh reality that is life. Well that’s what Barry did for me. His concert was one mesmerizing two hour escape from the rest of the world. I could forget about school, problems, and all the other junk that life throws at you and just have a brief period where I could have hope. That is the magic that Barry can give. For anyone who thinks his music is facile and stupid you’re missing the point. The man has sold over 75 million albums worldwide and just last year his CD of 1950s classics topped the billboard chart at number 1. A man who is facile and stupid could never do that. But more than his impressive resume is the message that his music gives. It leaves you feeling good, uplifted and just plain happy. For anyone in Vegas I highly recommend that you give Barry a chance. You will not be disappointed.
*Thanks to JL’s little sister for this thoughtful review of Barry’s concert. While she is prepared to defend her pro-Barry stance, she maintains that this passion is certainly less bizarre than her older sister’s preoccupation with Manny.
There is no doubt in my mind that American Idol is the best show ever. You may disagree with me. But you would be wrong. American Idol is amazing. Even though I have stopped watching the show following the fall of the great Sanjaya, I have not lost one ounce of respect for the creators, producers, and stars of the best darn show I have ever seen.
For those of you who may not know me very well, I am a music enthusiast. I own a large music collection. I play both guitar and bass. Some people even would go so far as to suggest that “I rock.” I guess that is why everyone is shocked when I tell them that I love American Idol. Immediately people think that I am on the “Vote for the Worst” bandwagon, which I obviously am not. I think it is foolhardy at best to assume that Howard Stern and a bunch of haters could possibly take down the most popular show in television history. No, my love of American Idol runs deep. Real deep.
I guess I love the show because I have never seen such mediocre talent plastered before my eyes every single week. Sure, there are the Melinda Doolittles of the competition, but who gives a rip about her. She is obviously going to win and blah, blah, blah. Who really cares? I will never buy a Melinda Doolittle album. But to see someone like Phil Stacey, or Bucky Covington, or Nikki McKibbin go down singing some terrible rendition of a Rod Stewart classic in front of MILLLIONS is so friggin funny that I can hardly contain myself. What keeps me watching is that despite the fact that every season there is an obvious winner (Fantasia, Carrie Underwood, and Melinda Doolittle) the bulk of contestants actually think they can win. This is priceless. I love to see someone get up there and try to ‘bring it.’ It reminds me of the time that my little sister was in the Sunshine Generation song and dance troop and some sassy little 4 year old would steal the show with her rendition of Gloria Estefan’s version of Conga. And yes, I am talking about you Jordin Sparks.
The truth is that those who don’t appreciate Idol simply don’t get it, the same way that some people don’t get Waiting For Guffman. Sure, there are those feel-gooders out there that watch the show for its ‘star power’ or because the think that Ryan Seacrest is actually talented, or because they actually like one of the contestants. Heaven Forbid. But the rest of us realize that for every one person who succeeds on idol there are thousands that get sent home. And everyone of those losers is actually wondering why. That is what makes Idol amazing; watching the truly talented perform on the same stage as the truly talentless.
It is my prayer that American Idol last forever.