Saturday, June 7, 2008

Confessions of a Barry Manilow fan

By Mike Cohen, The Suburban

Barry Manilow will perform June 5 at the Bell Centre.

It was my 45th birthday last October when a family member asked what I wanted as a present.

“The latest Barry Manilow CD would be great,” I told him. “I just got an MP3 player and I’d like to add this to my playlist.”

There was silence at the other end of the line, followed by an incredulous, “You like Barry Manilow?”

After a few bars of Copacabana and Mandy it was clear I meant business. A few days later the Manilow CD arrived by mail with a note which said: “I’d only do this for you. I went to Costco and hid this CD under all of my other items. I did not want anyone else seeing me buying it!”

I am not embarrassed to admit that I am a Barry Manilow fan. And on June 5, I will fulfill a lifelong dream and see him in concert at the Bell Centre.

Over the years, I have seen the likes of the Rolling Stones, the Police, the Eagles, Avril Lavigne and others, but Barry Manilow never seemed to include Montreal on his itinerary. So I settled for his records, CDs and many television appearances. Check out the plethora of Manilow videos posted on Youtube.

Wherever the locale, the people in the audience are standing, dancing and singing along.

I’ll probably be one of the younger fans at the concert since friends assure me the average age will be close to 65, which amazingly is what Manilow himself will turn on June 17.

Manilow was actually born Barry Alan Pincus in Brooklyn, New York, on June 17, 1943.

He began singing shortly before his Bar Mitzvah at the age of 13 when he legally took his mother’s maiden name.

Manilow dominated the soft rock scene in the 1970s with a string of top 10 hits and multi-platinum albums. Those same songs remain as timeless today.

This year, finally, Montreal is part of a busy 2008 tour which will also see him release two new albums. One will feature his greatest hits of the ‘80s and the other new material that he has written.

Last September, he released The Greatest Songs Of The Seventies, an 18-song tribute to number one hit songs of that decade.

What are my favorite Manilow songs? Mandy, It’s A Miracle, Could It Be Magic, I Write the Songs, Tryin’ To Get the Feeling Again, This One’s For You, Weekend In New England, Looks Like We Made It, Can’t Smile Without You, Even Now and the Grammy Award-winning Copacabana (At the Copa) head the list.

To date, 24 albums by Manilow have been certified gold. Half of these titles have been certified platinum, while Barry Manilow/Live (1977), Even Now (1978), and Greatest Hits (1978) are each certified triple platinum.

Barry Manilow performs at the Bell Centre on Thursday, June 5 at 8 p.m.

2008-05-28 11:46:08