About six months ago, I purchased tickets to a Barry Manilow concert. I know what you must be thinking and yes, I am THAT cultured. They were offering a certain nosebleed section for $10 a ticket ($20 with those pesky service fees) and I couldn’t resist seeing an icon for that low, low price. I suspect that was the intended reaction. Last Thursday, the concert finally took place. I was accompanied by a couple of friends and we of course opted to pregame downtown before the show. I’m running particularly low on cash these days, and had saved up all my pennies for this occasion.
There we were, out on the town at an embarrassingly early hour, two hags and a fa – uh…fanilow. After downing a few stouts and a $5 stuffed burger at Stella’s, we made the requisite pre-concert stop at Gardella’s. (Apparently I’m name-dropping in this blog). Next to us at the bar were a few lovely ladies who had “fanilow” written all over their middle-aged faces. I’m not making fun. They seemed legit. We played “Copacabana” on the juke, downed some shots of Rumple and headed to the main event.
We were a bit late getting to the arena, what with all the shots and burgers and re-applying of “anti-chaffing” stick to my inner thighs, so there were no lines to stand in. We waltzed through the doors and started the trek to our nosebleed seats. Once we got to the tippy-top of the arena we were stopped and told that we would be relocated to a lower section. Score! Evidently Mr. Manilow hadn’t reaped the sales-results that the arena had hoped for, and they wanted to consolidate all of us fanilows to avoid any “empty seat awkwardness”. It didn’t work. At least not for me. I still felt bad for the old chap. I had never been to a show there (and I’ve been to a few) where there was NOBODY in the upper bowl. Awkward. I was worried that the show would be terrible and that I’d have to rip Barry a geriatric “new one” in this blog.
It may have been the alcohol talking, but I ended up having a great time at the show. Not great enough to stay for the whole thing, but surprisingly good. My friends also enjoyed themselves. One of them, claimed to be going as a joke and only knew “Copacabana”. By the second or third song he was a converted fanilow. Some phrases he could be heard saying throughout the show were, “can’t we just go on the road with him?!”, “I definitely love Barry Manilow. How gay am I?!” and my favorite, “Wouldn’t it be the best if he, like, died tonight? I mean…that’s national news!”. That declaration followed Mr. Manilow mentioning the famous “GR Lip Dub”. What better to follow that local gem than a dead music icon?! Nothing. That’s what. The entertainment came at me from all angles at the show. My friends were hilarious but Barry’s reactions to the scads of old women in the audience were better than anything I could have hoped for. These women were insane. Following hearing aid-splitting screams and some old photos from the 70s, Barry suggested that he was Justin Bieber before there was a Bieber. It was an analogy that wasn’t necessary for the age-group in question, but I appreciated it. Barry’s shining moment (for me, anyway) came during his self-proclaimed “most romantic song”. The lyrics were, “…when can I touch you…?” to which one audience member replied (screeched) “RIGHT NOW!!” The crowd laughed, Barry turned red and got a bit flustered before exclaiming, “I’ve still got it!”. Amazing. If it weren’t for the empty seats and the lingering scent of “White Diamonds”, I’d have started to believe I was at a Justin Bieber concert. Which would also be fine with me.
Once I had heard all four songs that I knew, I suggested we cut out early and avoid the slow-moving crowds of white tennis shoes. It was a work-night and I had to be up early the next morning so I made the responsible choice to go back to Gardella’s and drink more. With “Mandy” reverberating in my head I started bugging my friends to go do karaoke with me. Nobody wanted to go. I wasn’t about to let loneliness stop me, so I posted a forlorn status on FB, secured another karaoke-enthusiast and headed over to the gay bar, promising to keep my hand on my pepper spray for the duration of the walk. There were other Barry fans at Diversions so I sang “Copacabana” alone, and later did a Grease medley with my friend. Before I knew it, the night had come to an end and we headed outside to make the endless walk back to my car.
Once outside I ran into a local radio DJ. Being such a stickler for first impressions, I decided to tell him that I didn’t like him at all, and that I would never listen to that station because I’m a grownup. I’m a charmer to a fault, I suppose. He took it in stride and offered to walk me to my car since he was also going in that direction. After chatting for what seemed like an hour (no idea how long it actually was) he had completely changed my mind about him and now I’m pretty sure I’ll stalk him to be my new BFF. I’m a little annoyed that I have one less stranger to hate and I was the walking dead at work on Friday, but I had a good night.
“Copacabana” will be my inner monologue for the rest of my life, but it was worth it.