Melissa Manchester is not only one of my favorite musicians, she’s one of my favorite friends. Her talent, energy, kindness, and passion are undeniable and all were on full display tonight during her opening performance at Feinstein’s/54 Below. Melissa has additional performances on Saturday (7:00 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.) and Sunday (7:00 p.m.), and I absolutely recommend you attend one or more of these fabulous concerts.
Melissa performed more than a dozen songs, including her wonderful new album The Fellas in its entirety, which was a real treat. While the musicians on stage only consisted of Melissa, her manager and musical virtuoso Susan Holder, and a guitarist, pianist, and vocalist named Michael, they were accompanied by the beautiful orchestral tracks performed by the Citrus College Blue Note Orchestra that appear on The Fellas. These rich, textured arrangements, along with the live musicians, made for impactful and emotional performances that rank right up there with some of the best I’ve ever seen. This was my first time at 54 Below and it was a charming and beautifully lit venue with an intimate atmosphere that is perfect for a musician like Melissa. It feels like an old-school supper club and I’d absolutely go back for future concerts by Melissa or other artists.
In addition to the material from The Fellas, Melissa sang a handful of her most popular hit songs including my all-time favorite “Don’t Cry Out Loud.” Melissa provided the sold-out crowd with charming and insightful stories about the songs she performed, whether they be covers or original material.After the concert, my wife and I spent time speaking with Melissa and Sue who were more than happy to make themselves available to meet the fans, signs CDs, and take photos. We told them how great the show was, expressed our gratitude, and offered best wishes for the future performances this weekend. If you’re in New York or the surrounding area, make it a point to see Melissa Manchester at Feinstein’s/54 Below for a musical tour de force that will have you singing, clapping, and smiling along with this beautiful artist.