Manilow says farewell (again) with most of the hits, but too many in a medley

Barry Manilow Image Provided by STILETTO Entertainment
Rating:

Goodbye tours are generally taken with a grain of salt by any frequent concertgoer these days, mainly because so few artists actually follow through with their promise. (Cher anyone?) In the case of Barry Manilow, his Fanilows first experienced the farewell frenzy with 2004’s “One Night Live! One Last Time!,” and now just over a decade later on the heels of an extensive Las Vegas residency, “ONE LAST TIME!” is back (in all caps no less!) to visit many of those same arenas all over again.

It was pure heaven for Fanilows and downright agony for those dragged against their will (admitted with a laugh by the showman himself), though it was difficult for either camp to deny the impact of “I Made It Through The Rain,” “Mandy” and “Copacabana.”

Barry Manilow

Photo by Billy Sparks

At the United Center on Valentine’s Day, the singer/songwriter/piano player made no direct mention of a final parting, nor did he come across like a star ready for retirement. Instead the 71-year-old was surprisingly spry and vocally potent, regularly working the catwalk, dancing every so often and even climbing on top of his piano. The only reference to his age (subliminal as it may have been) was the set length, which at a mere 90 minutes, was somewhat paltry compared to Manilow’s double act marathons from back in the day (though at least opening sax man Dave Koz helped beef up the bill).

Time frame aside, there was plenty of pizzazz throughout glitzy oldies “It’s A Miracle” and “Could It Be Magic,” alongside a Brooklyn-themed segment centered around “They Dance!” mashed with Earth, Wind & Fire’s “Boogie Wonderland,” Donna Summer’s “Hot Stuff” and Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours.” Given the duration, there were probably a few too many remakes (including a pair of Four Seasons tunes and a virtual Whitney Houston duet), especially considering over a dozen of Manilow’s monster ballads (like “One Voice,” “This One’s For You,” “Tryin’ To Get The Feeling Again” and “I Write The Songs”) were crammed into a medley.

Regardless of the material, it was pure heaven for Fanilows and downright agony for those dragged against their will (admitted with a laugh by the showman himself), though it was difficult for either camp to deny the unabridged impact of “I Made It Through The Rain,” “Mandy” and “Copacabana (At The Copa).” After an explosion of streamers, Barry’s endless bowing would’ve made it look like a true swansong (had he not hammed it up so frequently in the past), but even if it’s a bluff, chances are Chicago would be back any time he’s “Ready To Take A Chance Again.”