Barry Manilow, Arena Birmingham - review
‘Age is just a number, look at me’.
That’s how 75-year-old legend Barry Manilow quite rightly put it as he threw on his gladrags and thrust his hips across the Arena Birmingham stage for his legion of fans.
It had been two years since the musical icon made a trip to the Midlands as part of his whistle-stop One Last Time tour across the nation.
But even with 23 UK tours to his name spanning his 50-year career, Manilow still put on a defiant performance proving there’s nothing like a bit of old-school entertaining.
There were no perfectly choreographed dance numbers, fancy pyrotechnics glaring across the stage or extravagant costumes changes. None of that was needed, Manilow managed to command the stage in a way only a true pro could.
A trio of backing singers and a band helped raise the roof as the curtains climbed for opener It’s a Miracle, and a sea of green neon glowsticks swarmed the crowd of devoted Fanilows.
Cant Smile Without You turned the gig into a make-shift karaoke hotspot as the lyrics ran across the screen for just one song, while the disco version of Could It Be Magic brought out the best of the movers and shakers.
This One’s For You really pulled on the heart strings as Manilow paid tribute to his grandfather who he said spotted his musical gifts when he was just a young boy.
But it wasn’t the only moment of nostalgia, with Manilow taking to the piano to duet with his younger self as a clip of him performing Mandy hit the screen. It was the song which gained him international recognition after scoring his first US number one.
Not forgetting Copacabana, which was always going to be a sure-fire hit with the crowd and the most fitting way to launch into a show-stopping finale with rainbow streamers shooting into the air.
There was something quite mesmerising about the star as he delved into collection of tunes, a bit like the way Willy Wonka captivates Charlie Bucket.
Maybe it was those lengthy powerhouse notes which seemed to just naturally roll off his tongue during each song or the Broadway-esque feel which came over the arena – despite the odd but amusing moment everyone put on 3D glasses for a tour of Manilow’s hometown New York.
Whatever it was, Manilow certainly has ‘that something’ the kids could learn a thing or two from. As he said himself, ‘what’s your 75-year-old Grandad doing tonight?'