Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Revolving Door

Manilow fans speak of the "revolving door" with fondness. It's that door at the Hilton (and now the Paris) that we enter every time we go to a Manilow show in Las Vegas. It's where "the door that we go out of is the door that we come in" and it's where we meet our friends and make those amazing Manilow memories.

For me, my Manilow memories happened at the Las Vegas Hilton. It's where I first saw Barry and where I met my very first Manilow friend. The Hilton is where those good times happened and as I think back, some places and events hang heavy on my mind and heart. It simply felt like home.

Ah Fortuna. I can still smell the coffee brewing and taste that delicious cappuccino that I treated myself to every time I went there. I remember sitting at the small tables watching the people go by, enter the revolving door and pass by on their way to the casino. It was the BEST place for human theater. I have the best memories of laughter at those tables.

The Hilton Theater
This is where the magic happened. It's where I had my first Manilow moment, met my first Manilow friend, and yelled and screamed when I heard, "right here, right now" before the show began. We hung out at the front of the stage before the show and waited until the last person left the theater after the show. We met our friends there, hugged, took pictures and even got some Manilow handshakes on occasion. The stage seats were where the most amazing moments happened; where the champagne flowed; and where we got "up close and personal" with the Shadowman himself.

The M Store
No trip to Vegas was complete without a visit to the M Store. We viewed (and purchased) all the new Manilow merchandise, watched the videos as they played, swooned over the gorgeous gargantuan photo of Barry on the wall, and stood around and chatted with the M Store staff.

The first time I went to Tempo was right after a fan convention. My friend Mandy and I were invited to join a couple after the show (he had left early and saved us seats) so that we could sit close to the "back" area and see Barry when he came in after the show. At the time, it seemed bizarre but going to Tempo after the shows became one of our routines. We christened the tassles with the tassle dance and were probably the first ones to come up with the idea of a dance floor before it ever appeared. I can taste the margaritas, champagne cocktails and bloody marys, along with that spicy snack mixture they always put on the tables. It was where we danced, and drank and acted generally silly, and it was where we were able to let go, forget our troubles and have some adult fun.

We nicknamed the band "the screamers" and had great fun there after Tempo closed down. Since we could never hear ourselves talk, we mostly laughed as the band got louder and the ancient guitar/keyboard player rocked the house. We named one of the guys "the Klingon" because he reminded us of the Klingons in Star Trek. It was the last stand before heading off to bed and often off to wander around the Hilton.

Paradise Cafe
The food there was average but it was where we ate while we were there. I think the Manilow fans felt some sort of obligation to eat there because of the name. I recall one late night meal (before they started closing at night) that we showed up and they were out of just about everything. We laughed when we asked for just about every item on the menu and the waiter said, "we're out of that." What 24 hour Vegas restaurant runs out of food?

Hilton Buffet
Breakfast wasn't breakfast unless you ate at the Hilton Buffet. Every fan ate there. Rumor had it that "Barry and his entourage" ate breakfast there, so that's where we went. I did see several of his band members and his backup singers there at times, but I never, ever saw Barry. I suspected that he had room service up in his Elvis penthouse apartment. We did, however, spend hours there talking and reminiscing about the previous nights shows, and looking forward to the shows ahead. It too was a great place for human theater.

The Hilton Staff
The people that worked there became our friends: Mattie, Larry, CJ, the Tempo dancers, the Shimmer screamers, the M store staff, the casino hosts. It was like a family and we treated them as such.

There have been some bittersweet memories there and when I go to Vegas next month, I'll walk through that revolving door again and have a cup of coffee at Fortuna and bask in the memories.

"I'll see you then when you and I have made it back from the people and the places we have been",
Texas Fan

Friday, November 11, 2011

On the Road with Manilow-Dallas

This was a special show because it was the first time that my daughter and I had been to see Barry together. We got great fan club seats on the floor on the 4th row right in dead center. It put us smack dab in the middle of the fans (which is where my daughter wanted to be) to experience the human theater. Turns out, the seats and the show did not disappoint.

A little too much wine at dinner, and we were ready to ROCK the house at the American Airlines arena! Since this was her first concert and the first time she has ever sat that close to the stage, she was pumped. She chatted with the ticket takers, those selling the programs; she commented on the "tacky" shirts they were selling (she was not a fan of the picture on the tour shirt--I have to agree with her on that one), and she laughed and joked with a middle aged gentleman selling beer. He asked her if she was a fan and she said, yes, but that I was the "real" fan and she fully expected me to act "crazy" during the concert. He pulled her aside and told her that she should enjoy it with me and that it was 90 minutes in my life of pure joy (he got that right) and she should be happy she got to see me experience it.

When we found our seats she started mingling with the fans all around us. She wanted to know how many shows they had seen, had they been to Vegas, how long they had been fans. Then she started asking them about the Barrynet and if they were familiar with the "leather gang". She told them all it was better than a soap opera (again, she was right). I was cracking up. It was one of those priceless monumental memories that I will never forget.

The music began and then the infamous "right here, right now" started. It was amazing watching the show through my daughter's expressions and excitement. When he walked out on stage I, of course, became ecstatic. She started laughing and smiling and gave me a huge hug. He began with his usual It's a Miracle medley. I never get tired of hearing him sing those songs. And it was great for my daughter because she knew every one of them and was enjoying it immensely.

Hearing The Old Songs in its entirety was special and as always the full version of Could It Be Magic with the orchestra and the light show that goes along with it makes it even more magical. There were so many great moments in the show, but for me there were several that stood out and made this show unforgettable. The next moment was his powerful rendition of Weekend in New England. I have never seen him sing that song with so much emotion. His arms were actually up in the air in between notes and he lifted off the piano seat. At the end of the song he was so overcome with emotion that he sat there for a few seconds with his head in his hands, then he stood up, yanked off his tie and threw it across the piano. He crawled so deep into that song that his heart came out on to his sleeve. This was definitely the highlight of the evening.

He then began to play All the Time and this song always gets to me. When he sings this song, it seems like he's actually acknowledging how much he felt that way and how he knows there are so many of us out there that feel the same.

When he began Brooklyn Blues I was hoping that Brian Culbertson would join him on stage. Since I had the privilege of seeing Dave Koz play that song with him in NYC there was nothing that compared to it until that night. Brian on his trombone and his saxophone player blew me away when they joined Barry on stage for that song. The amount of talent up on that stage experiencing the jazz of it all made me realize that music truly is one of the few things in our lives that can move us to tears and give us such joy.

When Can’t Smile Without You started my daughter started to tear up. She actually had to leave the arena because the song reminded her of her grandfather who had recently passed away. Someone once said that is a sad song and that night, it was sad for her. I didn’t know how sad until we talked about it later on the way home. You just never know which song is going to move you and why.

The show ended too soon with the encore of Old Friends (who's like us..damn few) and Forever and a Day (didn't we show them, weren't they blown away) and I never get tired of seeing him sing those two songs live and experiencing the true gratitude and emotion he has about his fans. The expressions on his face during both those songs say it all and when you are lucky enough to be a part of it, it just doesn't get any better than that.

So it was a night to remember. A mother/daughter moment. A Manilow moment. Some great memories captured on film. And then the Shadowman was gone. As Barry says, "what a life!"

Basking in the memories of Dallas,

Texas Fan

Coming soon--The Revolving Door

Thursday, November 10, 2011

On the Road with Manilow-Philadelphia

When Barry decided to take his show on the road to Philadelphia the "three Musketeers" just couldn't pass up the chance to meet for the weekend. I'm not sure when we dubbed ourselves the "three Musketeers" but I think it might have been at Tempo one night.

After wrestling with the dreaded ticket purchasing system run by Stiletto, we were able to secure great seats in the center on the floor close to the stage. Musketeer 1 and me made plans to fly into Musketeer 3's home airport in Baltimore on Friday night before the show. Musketeer 3's husband, the biggest Barry Manilow fan in America was happy to put up with our foolishness for the weekend.

We were like three excited little girls in the airport that night. The biggest Barry Manilow fan in America was laughing at the three of us in the car on the way to their house from the airport. Of course, he had to put on "Sexyback" on the drive so we could "dance" while we were driving. (A song they used to play in Tempo for the "Tempo dancers"). I I'm sure that the cars next to us thought we were crazy! But first, a stop off at the convenience store where Musketeer 3 bought us both "Three Musketeer" bars in honor of the occasion (which I kept the wrapping and have it safely tucked away with my Manilow memorabilia).

We spent the evening watching Manilow DVD's and looking forward to the show in Philadelphia. The next day we all went out to breakfast and to the Baltimore Harbor for a little sightseeing. Musketeer 3 and the biggest Barry Manilow fan in America were the perfect hosts and tour guides.

It was finally time to pile in the SUV and head out on our road trip to Philadelphia for the concert. We listened to the music in the car and looked forward in anticipation to getting our grubby little hands on the 70's CD at the concert. After a quick dinner stop and so excited we could hardly eat, we arrived at the arena and saw MANILOW on the marquee out front. Making a quick stop at the merchandise booth, we were ecstatic to find the CD was indeed on sale.

Our seats were perfect and Brian Culbertson was the opening act. That guy can really jam. The music got everyone pumped up for the show with an Earth, Wind and Fire song. We were singing and "dancin' in the aisles" before Barry even came out.

We were so close, I got some great pictures that to this day bring back some of the best memories of that show. He used the catwalk to choose a dance partner and come out past the stage and sing a few songs during the show. I can't remember the song set or much about the show, but I do remember the ending. It was the first time I had ever heard him sing "Old Friends" and "Forever and a Day" live. I swear you could have heard a pin drop in that huge arena. It was awe inspiring.

After the show, the "three musketeers" headed to Atlantic City to spend the night. We popped the new CD in and started listening to it. I have to say, at first listen, I didn't like it very much. But after listening to it a few more times over the weekend, it quickly became one of my favorites of the decade CD's.

The next day in Atlantic City we walked the boardwalk, got some corn dogs and took some pictures next to Barry's handprints in the wall at Resorts International. It was a day I will always cherish because of the great conversations in the car to drop off Musketeer 2 at the airport, and afterwards with me and Musketeer 3 on the way home to Baltimore. We talked about the new album, what the songs meant, and what Barry's music meant to all of us. It was such a time a naivety and shear excitement over the music.

Musketeer 3 and I had sushi together that night and went home afterwards to watch the QVC special and yell at the moderator. Every time QVC has Barry on with that same moderator it reminds me of that first time we watched it and how frustrated we were that she would not stop talking. The next day I was dropped off at the airport for my flight home.

These two women will always be forever planted in my Manilow memory banks.

To the "Three Musketeers",
Texas Fan

Next up: On the Road with Manilow-Dallas

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

On the road with Manilow-New York City

What's better than seeing Barry LIVE at Madison Square Garden?New York...the Garden...and Manilow. What could be better? It was another of those "on the road" with Manilow experiences that I will never forget.

I took the train from Boston to New York into Penn Station. I love taking the train because it's something we can't do in Texas. Everyone in our state has a vehicle (aka truck) and are not the least bit interested in mass transportation. Trains are soothing forms of transportation to me and I always enjoy riding and watching the beautiful New England scenery along the way.

I was meeting Mandy in New York (she was flying in) later that day, so I decided to walk from the train station to our hotel on Broadway, navigating the melting ice and snow with a rolling suitcase. It was one of those quaint older hotels that had been renovated. The lobby was small but the rooms were huge and we had an amazing view of the city. We just happen to score this deal on a discount hotel site a few weeks before.

When Mandy arrived, we took a stroll to Madison Square Garden to look for Manilow signage. To our surprise, we couldn't find any, but we did come upon something even more special. It was a painting of words on the brick wall inside the entrance to the Garden that said, "The Best Seat in the House" We both looked at each other in amazement--how perfect was that? Of course, we had to snap a picture to commemorate it!

After dinner we got to the venue early to do some merchandise shopping and find our seats which unfortunately, were not on the floor. We had once again made a last minute decision to attend so were forced to take seats in the stands off to the side of the stage. Of course, we could see the "celebrity arrivals" from a distance and watched the fans as they circled the wagons to grab a picture or a handshake.

As a sidenote: It's always been interesting to me how people are so fascinated with celebrities. When you think about it, they are just people like you and me. Would I want an autograph? Probably not. Would I even approach them for one? Absolutely not. Would I ask for a picture with them? Not really. I've been around quite a few in my lifetime and I've never intruded on their personal space. I have never even approached Barry, his band, or his backup singers for a picture although I have had plenty of opportunities.

When the show began, the sound was completely off. We were having a hard time hearing Barry and the background music was overpowering. We wondered if it was the huge venue and the fact that it required different acoustics than the Hilton theater. But after about 10 minutes, they fixed the problem and we were enjoying the show.

About halfway through, Barry starting talking about his friend Dave Koz's new album and the song he sang on it. It wasn't long before we were treated to his beautiful saxophone and Barry singing Moon River along with him. We were ecstatic to be able to see the two of them together, especially after watching the Farewell DVD and Dave's wonderful Brooklyn Blues rendition. After Moon River, we were treated to the same song that night. Hearing Dave Koz live and seeing how much fun he and Barry had together on the stage was the highlight of this trip for me.

After the show we walked around for a bit and grabbed some coffee and dessert. The next day, Mandy headed for the airport and I for the train back to Boston. But the memories of the show were still fresh in our minds and the memories of sharing this once in a lifetime experience would be with us forever.

See you on the road again Philadelphia!
Texas Fan

Clicky Web Analytics