Barry Manilow knows you want to hear the hits

CorrespondentApril 25, 2013 

Barry Manilow

Barry Manilow will perform at the PNC Arena in Raleigh on Friday.

JACOB LANGSTON

  • Details

    What: Barry Manilow: “Manilow on Broadway”

    When: 7:30 Friday

    Where: PNC Arena, 1400 Edwards Mill Road, Raleigh

    Cost: $19.99-$129.99; 919-861-2323 or ticketmaster.com

    Bonus: Anyone who donates a new or gently used musical instrument to Wake County Schools at the PNC Arena drop-off will receive two free tickets (valid for pre-selected seat locations) for the concert. The instrument drop-off location is open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. The box office is open four hours before the event.

Barry Manilow is a very nice man, and he doesn’t seem to have too much of a problem with people using profanity (as you’ll find out later), but there’s one word he finds really, really offensive.

Tour.

“Don’t say that word!” he mock-admonished, as he spoke on the phone recently from his home in Palm Springs, Calif. “I don’t tour anymore!”

At age 69, the longtime hit-maker prefers to do weekend shows nowadays and then go back home.

He’ll make one of those weekend appearances on Friday in Raleigh, at PNC Arena.

There, he’ll re-create the magic of “Manilow on Broadway,” a recent 27-date engagement at St. James Theatre in New York that grossed $4.2 million.

The sales figures were so big, and the demand so great, the show had to be extended for two weeks, according to Variety.

“It was five shows a week,” Manilow says. “That kicked my butt!”

Still, he calls it “one of the great experiences of my career.”

Manilow devotees who catch the “Mandy” man at PNC can expect pretty much the same show that thrilled New York audiences, and yes, even critics. Fans are going to get two hours of the hits.

And, of course, they wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I know that’s what they want,” Manilow says, adding that he’s more than happy to give it to them.

“They put up with me doing an album cut, and they’re very polite,” he says with a laugh.

“And then I do ‘Ready to Take a Chance Again,’ and the roof caves in.”

If he forgets to do one particular song, he’ll be in big trouble, and he knows it.

“The one I would get killed for, if I didn’t do it, is ‘Copacabana,’ ” he says, probably to no one’s surprise. (His personal favorite is “Could It Be Magic.”)

Unbelievably, though, it surprised Manilow when the song blew up in 1978. One reason is because the usually golden-eared label honcho Clive Davis (then with Arista Records) didn’t like the song.

“He didn’t want to release it,” Manilow admits.

But Manilow got it right away.

“That is a pretty damn great lyric,” he marvels. “I don’t know of a song that tells a story, in three verses, and a repeated chorus.”

Manilow’s spirit of giving doesn’t just end where his listening public is concerned.

In 2008, he formed The Manilow Music Project to provide musical instruments to high schools and middle schools, as well as making music scholarships available at universities throughout the U.S., Canada, and the U.K.

“A lot of schools are either cutting music classes – which is killing me – or if they do have music classes, they’re running out of instruments, or the instruments they have are in just terrible shape,” he laments.

In Wake County, his organization is promoting a pre-show instrument drive. Anyone who donates a new or gently used musical instrument at PNC Arena through Friday will get two free Manilow tickets.

The drop-off location is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.

“I kick it off by donating a (Yamaha) piano, and I hope that the public will bring some of their used instruments that they’re not using anymore that are collecting dust in the attic,” Manilow says.

That kind of generosity may have prompted former Nirvana drummer and current Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl to tell an interviewer that Barry Manilow is “the coolest (expletive) in the world.”

“I love that,” Manilow says. “Dave’s a friend. He could probably feel that the (interviewer) was surprised that we were friends.

“I love his answer, that I’m the coolest (yes, folks, Manilow repeated it, with pride!) in the world.”

And you know what? Grohl’s right.

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