I have a weakness for old style performers of this generation: Neil Diamond, Barry Manilow, Engelbert Humperdinck, Tony Bennett... I eat them up with a spoon. Deep down nothing pleases me more than a cheesy song, belted out with passion and someone up there who isn't afraid to wear a bit of sparkle. These guys know how to please their audience and having seen Barry and Neil live, I can tell you the audience isn't all 70 year olds with blue rinses. I've spotted some teenagers in the audience. I really have and not looking after their grannies either.
This is a big year for me as I am going to see Neil and Barry. I've seen them both before more than once and I am of the opinion that when they tour now, I faithfully trot off to pay my respect because they ain't getting any younger. One day we'll just be left with the likes of Ronan Keating to entertain us and you'll be sorry then that you didn't go to wave your lighter to these legends.
I mentioned before that a dear friend introduced me to Barry. I returned the favour by introducing her to Neil. You can see why we are friends. Barry takes some time to appreciate. He is a bit of a figure of fun, it is hard to get past the nose and the hair. It's worth it though because he knows how to write a hit. And what hits. There are the ones everyone knows: Copacabana and Mandy. And there are the ones that us fans love even more: Weekend in New England, Looks Like We Made it, Tryin' To Get That Feeling, I Write The Songs, Even Now, Daybreak, One Voice.
The definitive Barry song for me is Can't Smile Without You. It starts with a whistle. How can one resist a song that starts with a whistle? And it is such a happy song. This is the one he traditionally picks a fan - a Maniloonie or a Fanilow (yeah Justin Bieber, we're waaaay ahead of you) - and gets them on stage to sing with him. Don't even think this might be you unless you fit the Fanilow/Loonie club as these women wait years and spend thousands to be in the right place in the audience. If you have ever sung with him please post a comment and tell me all about it.
Cam't Smile Without You builds up beautifully and by the end you are swaying along, beaming like an idiot. I've always thought it would be a great song to descend a grand staircase to kicking your legs as you go. Of course one would be wearing something sparkly...
I looked and looked for the footage of Barry singing live with Sue from Bournemouth as that is the video we had at uni (ummm, yeah when we weren't watching Take That, we were watching Barry Manilow videos) but alas, I can't find it. So here is the song with no distractions and no tuneless singing along. Enjoy!