Michael Cavacini

An award-winning arts and culture blog.

Manilow Lights Up LA 

IMG_0073On Tuesday night one of my dreams came true: I got to meet and have my photo taken with Barry Manilow. Having been a fan of his music for more than 10 years, being able to meet the man himself backstage before the concert was a fabulous experience I’ll never forget.

Upon arriving at the Staples Center, my friend and I were greeted by Barry’s team and given these beautiful Platinum VIP passes that were made of metal. I’ve never seen anything like it, despite having been to several meet and greets. These VIP badges are easily the best in the business.

IMG_0084After going through security, we were led backstage to a private room that was elegantly decorated by Barry’s team. The room was adorned with flowers, plants, bottles of champagne, and an oversized lava lamp for good measure.

There were 11 VIPs, including my friend and me, and we were all given platinum-colored gift bags containing a glow stick, a copy of Barry’s newest album, My Dream Duets, and an exclusive One Last Time! champagne glass. While I opted for water, my friend told me the champagne was wonderful.

IMG_0075While waiting to meet Barry, the meet and greet hosts filled us in on how the evening would play out, and they showed us the framed and autographed platinum “Mandy” record we’d all receive in the mail. As you can see from the photo below, it’s a beautiful collectible that celebrates the hit single’s 40th anniversary.

IMG_0083-0Luckily, my friend and I were the second group to meet Barry. While I’ve met and interviewed many celebrities, I have to admit, I was a little nervous when we were about to go in and meet Barry. This wasn’t the first time I met him. I met Barry at a CD signing for his wonderful album 15 Minutes at Radio City Music Hall in NYC a few years ago, and he was extremely nice. This time I wanted to make sure I made the most out of the meet and greet, and that I didn’t blink when our photo was being taken.

IMG_0072When my friend and I walked into the room, Barry greeted us both warmly. We both started chatting with him and then my friend had a brief discussion with Barry. Following this, Barry turned to me and said, “So, what brings you here?” I told him about my blog, my love for his music and how I’ve never seen him perform one of my favorite ballads of his live: “Bring On Tomorrow.” Barry said, “I’ve never performed that one while you were in attendance? I did that one a lot in Vegas. It’s a terrific song. I’m glad you found it.” I ended by saying that I’m doing another meet and greet with Barry when he comes to Philadelphia. He seemed impressed by this and responded with a smile and said, “That’s great!”

Then Barry said, “Let’s take a photo together.” The three of us turned toward the cameraman and he fired away. Barry then said, “How about we take individual photos?” Not being one to object, I said, “Of course!” As you can see from my photo with Barry, it turned out great! We shook hands, and as my friend and I headed for the door Barry said, “I’ll see you in Philadelphia!”

IMG_0074Once my feet landed on the ground, I headed to the merchandise booth where I picked up the beautiful letterman jacket Barry has for sale at his shows this tour. I was told by someone on his team that the jacket was made from scratch and that they designed it themselves. It’s wool and leather, and extremely well made.

With my jacket in one hand and my Platinum gift bag in the other, I made my way into the arena to locate my seat in the front row. As I did, the lights dimmed and music started to play. As the roar of the crowd escalated, I ran to my seat, which was replete with a sign saying it was reserved for me. It’s the little touches like this that make people feel special, and it’s what separates Barry’s meet and greet experience from every other one out there. IMG_0082The red curtains parted, the band broke out into “It’s a Miracle” and Barry took to the stage and was met with deafening applause. For the next 90 minutes he escorted the crowd on a euphoric musical journey featuring his biggest hits, a handful of deep cuts and a track off his new album – “Zing! Went The Strings of My Heart” – where Barry sang alongside a video-screen representation of Judy Garland.

IMG_0079From the songs with lush arrangements to those that were stripped down and intimate, every piece of music Barry and his band performed was compelling and heartfelt. During Barry’s impressive 16-song medley, I was blown away by his ability to seamlessly transition from one song to the next while belting out vocals more powerful and clear than a singer half his age could muster.

IMG_0080My favorite performances of the evening were “Even Now,” which features a spectacular finish, “Keep Each Other Warm,” an overlooked gem from Barry’s eponymous 1989 album, and the song that got me hooked on his music more than a decade ago: “Weekend in New England.”

Barry Manilow is a one-of-a-kind entertainer that everyone should see live at least once. And with this being his last big tour, now’s the time to buy a ticket. I’ve seen him live five times and number six will be when he returns to Philadelphia in June. Barry is an underrated singer, lyricist, producer, and composer whose music is wonderfully complex and deeply emotional. Rolling Stone put it best when they stated that Barry Manilow is “a giant among entertainers…the showman of our generation.”

IMG_0081As the curtains closed and the lights came up, I looked around the Staples Center and saw a sea of smiling faces. Everyone in attendance thoroughly enjoyed themselves and rightfully so. With Barry Manilow, music and passion is always in fashion and on this night he delivered it in spades. While this being his last tour could be seen as a sad moment in time, I prefer to look at it as a celebration of a remarkable career punctuated by songs that served as the soundtrack for so many lives. I’m glad to have been along for the ride and look forward to experiencing it one last time.

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29 thoughts on “Manilow Lights Up LA 

  1. Tom Sawyer on said:

    Nice, Michael!

    Wish I’d known you were coming to L.A. We might’ve been able to connect.

    Tom http://www.ThomasBSawyer.com

    *CROSS PURPOSES The First Barney Moon Thriller!*

    • Tom, I didn’t realize you were near LA. Had I known, I definitely would have told you. Next time, for sure.

      We should grab lunch again this year at ThrillerFest. Looking forward to seeing you soon!

  2. Beautifully written Michael! I know how much this time spent with Barry meant to you! Can’t wait to meet you in Philly and “see the show again”!

  3. Amy Burris on said:

    Another awesome article Michael. I have been listening to Manilow music from the start. Mandy was the first and I remember the others as they came along. I hope he isn’t retiring!

  4. Angela Washington on said:

    Excellent write-up, Michael! You accurately described the young man we know and love 😉

  5. Michael, you made me smile with pride both for you and for Barry. Every word captured Barry to a T…

  6. Great review, Michael! The man is a so talented and connects with the audience each and every time! What an experience to meet him in person!

  7. CAROLE MECCA on said:

    Michael. I l0ved reading your post. You made me feel like I was there with you. I went to Foxwoods A few weeks a go Barry was wonderfull can’t wait for Philly,Newark, and Brooklyn. I’ve been a fan forever. I ran a local BMFC
    here in cental NY called “Believe In Your Dreams” from 1985-2000. best tme of my life I also meet Barry in 89, and sang with him in La. in 93 He just makes you feel so at ease. You’re so very luckey to have front row seats…they are the BEST. Maybe we could meet up in Philly? THANK YOU FOR SHARING

  8. Rebecca Nicholson on said:

    Have seen Barry 100 times since 1976. Have never had the money to buy the platinum experience. It is my dream to meet him too thanks for sharing your story. I’m jealous!!

  9. Thank you for sharing this with us Michael. I’ve been a FANILOW since 77. (7 years old) Barry and his music take me to a beautiful place. I forget about the bills, the chaos, and the drama of everyday life. Although, I’ve never met Barry, we’ve “been together ” so long, I feel like he’s an old friend. Exactly the kind and generous man you described.
    Enjoy Philly!

  10. Wendy Young on said:

    Thank you for sharing your Platinum experience with us Michael. What an absolute joy to read! x

  11. Mary Ann Dupee on said:

    Hi Michael–great review! Thanks for sharing your Platinum experience–sounds like it was awsome. I did one at the Paris before Barry left and it was something I will always cherish!! I agree with what you said about Barry’s vocals being better than singers half his age. I swear he just gets better!!! I will be seeing him here in New York in June–it will be bittersweet but I am sure he will come back for a show here and there!
    Again–thank you for your review!!!!

  12. Alan Markovitz on said:

    Hey Michael!!

    I’m so glad that you were able to see that dream of yours finally come true. I have no doubt that your PLATINUM experience will be a time that you will remember “Forever And A Day.” I really enjoyed reading about your big night!!
    I’ve been around in Barry’s world for the past 45 years, and have been to more concerts than you can possibly imagine…….But believe it or not, even though I am a dedicated supporter of the Manilow Music Project, I still have not had the pleasure of doing a PLATINUM. Perhaps someday before I croak I’ll go for it!! lol

  13. Cindy Weaver on said:

    Thanks Michael – I am taking my best friend and Barry fanatic to Atlanta next month for our own platinum experience. The only thing I told her, was “whatever you do, don’t faint!”

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