Yesterday I scored a free pair of Barry Manilow tickets from my mechanic. The only dilemma? My man is NOT into Barry. Mr. Manilow may have sold more than 80 million records, but Jimmy would rather get a colonoscopy sans anesthesia than see him in concert.
“Dude, I did a 7:30 surgery today,” he whined when I bugged him at the office. “I put a titanium screw in somebody’s foot. I’m exhausted, plus the Raiders are playing. I’m not into this at all.”
So what I did was trick him. “Totally empathize, but since you’re commuting on 280 from Menlo Park anyway, want to grab dinner?”
We met at our fave Vietnamese place, 19 Market. After we’d polished off the last of the garlic prawns, I said coyly, “You know…HP Pavillion is right down the street. Let’s go to the concert. Just a fly-by. I PROMISE!“
“Oh, alright. But we’re OUT after two songs.”
When we arrived, the arena was packed-ish.
“Are you sitting in the wheelchair section?” Laura, my music snob friend texted me.
“Yeah! And my hearing aid is cranked to 10!” I cheerfully texted back.
Despite the median age of 65, the audience was showing Barry some serious glow stick love. That arena was an undulating sea of neon green.
Botoxed and bronzed, Barry looked fabulous and sounded even better–and, he was strutting his stuff with a sexy, black back up dancer half his age. He also played piano on most songs. Luckily we were late, so we only had to endure a couple of his lesser-known cheesy songs.
“Let me take your pic,” I said.
“No way. I don’t want anyone to know I was here!”
Barry couldn’t have been more personable. Right before he launched into the Christmas-song schmaltz , he revealed that he’d attended a sketchy high school in a tough part of Brooklyn. “Being in the orchestra saved me,“ he said. “Obviously, I wasn’t sporty and can you image me in a gang?“
Not in that sequined fuchsia blazer I couldn’t. Or any of his other 20 other costume changes for that matter.
Finally Mr. Manilow delivered a tune I recognized. “I’m going to play the most romantic song in my catalog now. If you can’t get lucky to this one…” Barry laughed, before performing “Weekend in New England.”
I don’t know if it was the crashing waves projected on the big screen or Barry’s superb showmanship, but the song totally brought me right back to sloshing around on my waterbed, making out with my 7th grade boyfriend, Paul Michael.
“When will I see you againnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn?” Barry hit the high notes like a pro. Even Jimmy seemed impressed. “He’s got a nice set of pipes and I like his piano playing. How old is Barry, anyway?“
“Hold on, let me Google it…OMG he’s 69!”
“Wow! Barry’s BRINGING it!“
Then things started getting really good. Barry sang “Can’t Smile without You” which totally reminded me of sloshing around on my waterbed, trying not to lock braces with my 8th grade boyfriend, Joe DiDuca, then “Mandy“ (slutty/sloshy–you know the drill) and finally, the piece de resistance–“Copacobana.”
The AARP crowd went wild for Lola and Rico, twirling their glow sticks, and when Barry thrust his mic toward the audience, hot damn if we didn’t whip ourselves into a frenzy singing the chorus…
“At the copa (CO!) Copacabana (Copacabana) / The hottest spot north of Havana / At the copa (CO!) Copacabana / Music and passion were always in fashion…”
He wasn’t dancing in the aisles like me, but even Jimmy seemed into it.
Barry might have done an encore, but I can’t say for sure; we hightailed it out to beat the wheelchair gridlock.
On the street, I was positively high–it was as if I’d just taken a couple hits off a big joint of medicinal Barry-juana. “LOOKS LIKE WE MADE IT—through the concert, that is!” I crooned, locking arms with Jimmy as we headed to our car. “So what was your favorite? “Mandy?“ “I Write the Songs?“ Wait, I know—“Copacabana?”
“No, it was that I love you, baby one,” he said.
“Oh, you mean ‘Can’t Take My Eyes off You?’ That was Barry covering Frankie Valli,” I said. “Yay! That means we can go see “Jersey Boys,” the musical about Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.“
“Don’t push your luck.”