LIVE: Barry Manilow @ SPAC, 8/25/11

Barry Manilow @ SPAC

Now that Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Perry Como and Sammy Davis Jr. are long gone, but not forgotten, the musical mantle of the male troubadour-crooner specializing in Broadway show tunes, pop songs and vocal jazz standards is almost vacant.

Yes, the magnificent Tony Bennett is still out there, but, regrettably, he’s slowing down, and his live performances have become fewer and farther between.

With the exception of numerous younger imitators of the old masters (Harry Connick, Jr., John Pizzarelli) and hundreds of tribute artists (tonight only: so-and-so’s tribute to Sinatra), who’s left out there that’s still an original?

Only Barry Manilow!

Manilow is the true male heir-apparent to that stylized Las Vegas singer-showman who still performs with a huge orchestra backing him up and an adoring public that still comes out by the thousands to hear him sing.

Bounding out onto the stage in a whiter-than-white jacket Manilow was instantly embraced by the waves of applause from the all-ages audience that had come to hear his platinum hits “Mandy,” “I Write The Songs,” “Copacabana,” “Looks Like We Made It” and so many more.

Starting off an almost hour-and-half set with “Could It Be Magic,” Manilow’s warmth and energetic showmanship quickly transformed SPAC’s amphitheater into an intimate casino nightclub show.

Not an easy thing to do considering the blanketing sound of crickets and the annoying mosquitoes that are hallmarks of any outdoor performance anywhere during the summer months.

But Manilow did it effortlessly with his personal charisma, loads of vocal talent and the accompaniment of the terrific Youngstown Symphony Orchestra, bolstered by a bevy of back-up singers. And, of course, it doesn’t hurt that he has tons of instantly recognizable, crowd-pleasing tunes to pull out of his popular song-bag all night long.

There was no opening act because the scheduled performer got stuck in traffic on his way up from Washington D.C. No biggie. Nobody seemed to notice.

Review and photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk

Barry Manilow @ SPAC
  1. Helen Holdun says

    In the past four years I’ve seen Barry Manilow perform in the intimate setting of Las Vegas and in adrenalin filled arenas packed with thousands, dozens of times. Each time his performance is astounding. Writing about each show, I use words like phenomenal, spectacular, incredible, amazing… yet they never really seem to fully explain the “magic of Manilow”.

    How do you explain an icon, in the business for nearly four decades, who has the ability to top himself with each performance. Whose voice grows richer and stronger with each year.

    How do you put in words the way Barry Manilow steps on stage and in that first second, he connects with the audience and holds them in the palm of his hand and keeps them there until he leaves. How to describe the way his unique delivery of a song, can bring top of mind, moments of each of our own lives, making us feel and remember; happiness, joy, sorrow.

    It’s not easy, but I try to explain, over and over again.

    Barry Manilow is a consummate, musician, singer, composer, entertainer; the likes of which will never be matched. Many will try, few if any will succeed! As long as he graces a stage, I and thousands of others will be there to witness the best of the best.

    Bravo Barry, you are one in a billion!

  2. Andrzej Pilarczyk says


    Thank you for your beautifully written and heart-felt response/comment. If Barry Manilow comes back next year to SPAC, would you consider writing a review for us at We and many a reader or fan would welcome your passionate appraisal and insight!

  3. Christine Koch says

    A correction: Barry did not open the show with Could It Be Magic. He opened with It’s a Miracle. The orchestra did play a piece of CIBM in the overture, however.

    I, also, have seen Barry MANY times…over 60-some shows since 1988! I am still stunned at how he can work an audience so effortlessly. This SPAC performance was my first-ever front row seat, and I was thrilled at his showmanship and musicality. He never disappoints.

    JFYI, many years ago, Sinatra was heard to say that Barry Manilow “was next!” He was right!

  4. Mary Rinaldi says

    I had the pleasure of being at this concert. Barry truly outdid himself. The show was fantastic! He sang and danced for 2 hours without a break. I hope I have that energy at his age! He is the BEST!

  5. Helen Holdun says

    Dear Andrzej,

    I would be thrilled and delighted to write a review of Barry Manilow’s show, if (when I hope) he returns to SPAC next year.

    Writing about Barry truly comes from deep admiration and respect for him and his music. Four years ago his music changed my life, the story of which I’m sharing in a book set to release in late fall, 2011.

    Thank you and have a great day
    Helen Holdun

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