4th Of July Manilow Spectacular at the Hollywood Bowl – Review
Barry Manilow, 69Years Old, Still Making Music Move and Hearts Swoon!
By Lorenzo Marchessi – contributing writer
Quipping with the audience “I was the Justin Beiber of the 70’s – just ask your Mom…” the legendary performer, singer, songwriter, author, producer, musician, composer, arranger, plumber – (just seeing if you’re paying attention) deep breath -Tony, Emmy, MTV, Lifetime Achievement Honoree, Peabody, Humanitarian and Oscar Nominated and award Winning – Barry Manilow gave a sparkling performance against the backdrop of the Historical Hollywood Bowl and the Magnificent Los Angeles Philharmonic orchestra! The spectacular July 4th fireworks show at the Hollywood Bowl began July 2 through July 4th and was actually a Birthday gift for me and I could not think of a better way to spend July 4th.
Act One: The evening started at 7:30pm with a nice little tribute to America and all the Armed Forces with the LA Phill’s glorious versions of the themes and songs – lasting about 10 – 15 minutes but it was amazingly directed by the beautiful Sarah Hicks. She was fun, energetic and looked great as she conducted the L A Phil in Williams’ “Liberty Fanfare”, Gould’s “American Salute”, and Bernstein’s “Westside Story Suite”. The first act ended with a rousing “Armed Forces Salute’ arranged by Lowden which was a lovely tribute to all our armed forces. With energy and enthusiasm she then directed Copland’s “Hoedown from Rodeo” and Louis Prima’s “Sing, Sing, Sing”. Sarah has been noted in the New York Times as one of the new wave female conductors in their late 20’s to early 40’s. She has guest conducted all over the United States and abroad and has extensive credits.
ACT TWO: opened with the Legendary Barry Manilow who is ranked as the top Adult Contemporary chart artist of all time with 47 top 40 hits. Opening his show with a wonderful celebration of our country’s 236th birthday –he modestly told the audience – “You have something no one else has…You’ve got me.” As always he gave 110% of himself as he sang and accompanied himself on the keyboards to our old favorites like “Could It Be Magic?”, “Somewhere in the Night”, “Looks Like We Made It” and the crowd pleaser “Can’t Smile Without You”. He gave a nod to how much he loved singing these songs in the 70’s and he sang them to us “…in our cars, kitchens and in your bedrooms …“, and in venues such as at the Greek Theatre, the Pantages and Las Vegas, “The Old Songs” and a beautiful “Even Now” followed . One thing impressed me most was how good he looked for his age. I’m sure there was a little work done…but he still looked good and his voice was still smooth and melodic and he could hold some notes longer than I’ve heard anyone ever do before – in “Even Now” . He did a show stopping conga line to and from the piano and the keyboards as he sang ”New York City Rhythm”.
Manilow’s charm and self-deprecating humor won over the audience with his heartfelt appreciation for his fans that have followed him for almost 40 years.
He gave us what he dubbed as his most romantic song, “Weekend in New England” with a moment when he mention ‘…when I touched you…” and the Bowl Audience went crazy screaming and yelling “I love you Barry”… and his response was – “Really, after all this time? I still got it!” Recently having serious hip surgery – he didn’t seem to miss a step to his hopping all around the stage at the Latin choreographed moves of “Copacabana”.
Then came “I Write the Songs” as his first finale. It was a fun Musical event and evening! He is so inclusive and generous to his audience. Manilow then proclaimed, “I’m not gonna forget this night; there is no place like America and working with the greatest orchestra in the world – The LA Phl!”
His actual finale was “Let Freedom Ring” as fireworks exploded above the theatre as he and a 50 member gospel choir sang along. The pyrotechnic display always is a very special thing every year at the Hollywood Bowl .
Manilow had the L. A. Philharmonic Orchestra as back up to his very own band which included keyboard with Ron Walters Jr. as his music director also on keyboards. His regular band includes Stan Sargeant (bass guitar, background vocals), Russ Mc Kinnon (drums), Mike Lent (guitar, background vocals), David Rosenblatt (percussion), Kye Brackett (background vocals), and Sharon “Muffy” Hendrix (background vocals).
Side note: Barry Manilow’s generosity as he helps to keep music in the public school system – such as back in 2008, when he formed the Manilow Music Project (MMP) and provided $500,000 worth of musical instruments, sheet music and music stands to 21 local schools in the Coachella Valley. And, in 2009, he raised $100,000 for instruments for Los Angeles (LAUSD) and with every concert since, Manilow continues his donations around the country!
ACT THREE: In a new casual sparklin’ outfit Sarah Hicks came back to conduct Eric S. Elias Pyrotechnical Operator, and the L. A. Philharmonic with Sousa’s “The Washington Post” “Semper Fidelis” and “The Stars and Stripes Forever” in a fantastic and amazingly colorful fireworks display with animatronics and moving display and tons of fireworks overhead! “America the Beautiful” closed the evening!
What a night! A memorable 4th Of July with Barry Manilow!
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