Today the Dragon Wins

"Today the Dragon Wins" offers information from Fantasy Author and Professional Editor Sandy Lender. You'll also find dragons, wizards, sorcerers, and other fantasy elements necessary for a fabulous story, if you know where to look...

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Sandy Lender is the editor of an international trade publication and the author of the fantasy novels Choices Meant for Gods and Choices Meant for Kings, available from ArcheBooks Publishing, and the series-supporting chapbook, What Choices We Made.

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Drunk Old People Can't Mar the Barry Manilow Experience
Or…The Dragon had a fabulous time at the Music and Passion show in Vegas

The reason I went to Las Vegas for five days was to attend an equipment tradeshow as the editor of a construction magazine. Now, consider for a moment that group of people. No one in that group is going to admit to being interested in attending a Barry Manilow concert*. EXCEPT ME! I was stoked beyond words.

I've been a Barry Manilow fan for…oh…32 years? And that's kinda bizarre when you consider I'm 37. He he he. I have a Barry Manilow highballer; a Barry Manilow corkscrew; a Barry Manilow hat; of course the music on cassette, CD and vinyl; Music and Passionfruit lip balm for pity's sake…I'm mildly obsessed. One of my girlfriends got me the Barry Manilow bobble-head doll (which is actually a little evil-looking so I keep it in its box where it can't hurt anyone). He has inspired me to market and promote on days when I felt like curling up in the fetal position and telling the world to go screw itself rather than explain to one more old person what on earth "fantasy" is and why on earth Choices Meant for Gods is NOT the same as Harry Potter. There was no way I was going to Vegas and NOT going to see the man.

I had a ticket for Row G, Seat 10. That, my friends, translated to the 7th row, stage left, in line with Barry's eyes every time he sat down at the piano. FABULOUS! You couldn't ask for a better seat.

Well…you couldn't ask for a better seat unless maybe the seat wasn't directly in front of a party of drunk girls who enjoyed saying the F word really loudly. That was bizarre. I think the poor elderly couple to my immediate left was about to collapse in some sort of coronary event shortly after the "ladies" behind us sat down. The good news is that the music gets pretty loud in a concert hall and you can't hear the people behind you so much. Well…you can't hear them unless the person somewhere behind you is an obnoxious old man screaming "sit down" at the top of his lungs. That was also bizarre. He was so loud and obnoxious that the lady in front of me turned around looking confused and bewildered at one point during the opening song when everyone was standing. I shrugged and continued clapping like a trained monkey because I was just so happy to be there.

Now! Enough of the crazy people!

Everything Barry played was great. Holy cow. I've been to several of his shows over the years and I'm just constantly amazed by how that man can shake it. How old is he now? Depending on whether you believe he was born in 1943 or 1946, he's in his early 60s. (Either way, I share his birth date of June 17!) Yet he's up there dancing around and belting out these tunes and running (literally running) around the piano trading off playing with three other keyboardists onstage as if he was a spry young 20-year-old. Geez Louise. I wanna move like that when I'm in my early 60s.

At one point during the show, some geek in the front row LEFT to get alcohol, and Barry, who had just started up New York City Rhythm, says into the microphone, "Wait! I get better!", and then continues singing. I thought I would die laughing. The geek didn't seem to notice. Rar.

At another point in the show, when he sang Moonlight Serenade, Barry went over to the VIP section and held out his hand to one of the ladies in the front row there…and asked her to dance. Hello! He opened this little gate that separated the front row from the stage and led her onto the stage, pulled her into his arms and danced with her. Lucky lady! He asked her her name. "Jane." (I was so proud of her for getting that out.) Then he asked a complex question. He asked why she had come to Vegas. I'm sure most of us in the audience were telepathically sending her the answer, "to see you to see you to see you to see you to see you," because the poor lady, standing there in Barry's arms, hesitated, gulped, and said, so sweetly, "I'm here to see you." Good girl, Jane. We applaud you. And we're all green with envy. Now, Barry had to let her go, right? So he hands her off to a security guy who had snuck up out of nowhere. And thank goodness, too! The poor thing. She sort of did this weak-kneed stutter-step toward her seat, which, bless her heart, is better than I would have done. I probably would have collapsed in the security guard's arms. "You'll have to carry me…"

So he played Weekend in New England, Looks Like We Made It (which actually made me tear up just a bit, for some reason), I Made it Through the Rain (which also made me tear up, for obvious reasons), Copa Cabana, American Bandstand, Boogie Woogie Blues, Can't Take my Eyes off of You, When They Dance (and let me just say that I LOVE his Mayflower album), Daybreak, Can't Smile Without You, I am Your Child, and, the killer, Mandy. Ugh. There were more, but, geez. Every time a new song started up, I was thrilled that I was going to hear it. It was just a fantastic show. I'm stunned by how much energy he can pack into the performance.

Side note: I thought I was going to make it through Mandy without sobbing like an idiot this time. They play a video on a huge curtain-like screen in front of the stage to introduce the song; it's Clive Davis being interviewed about Barry and the new #1 hit song. And then Barry starts playing it on this white grand, right? You've all seen it on TV. Well, the video clip on the curtain-like screen goes all the way through the first verse and I'm holding it together really really well. I figure I don't need my little tissue after all. I've become immune to this version of the song. And then of course the curtain goes up because Barry is behind it (and we all knew this) playing a white grand piano and singing along and the clip fades out so it's just him and I weep like a fool. Sigh. I don't understand what it is. I wonder if something traumatic happened when I was 5 and that song was playing in the background…and I've repressed it…I'll have to check with my parents.

Summation: I highly recommend Barry Manilow's Music and Passion show in Vegas. Get thee to the Hilton and see the show if at all possible. It's worth every penny. Even if you end up in front of a party of drunk girls or obnoxious old men who want everyone to sit down. Those folks are easily ignored when the fabulous Barry Manilow takes the stage (or maybe I'm just used to ignoring obnoxious things because I was married for 14 years). His band is dead-on. His backup singers are full of energy and spunk. His stage is magnificent. His voice is incredible (as always). His show is well-balanced with moments for him to slow down and connect with the audience (and I'm sure everyone knows he has a stellar sense of humor) and then the moments for the show to race into a frenzy when everyone is up "dancing in the streets". It's worth flying out to Vegas just to see the man...

*footnote: I have discovered that many people from surprising backgrounds are closet Barry fans. When in college, I had a greatest hits album of his that I popped into my cassette player/boombox one day, much to my roommate's chagrin (No, not you, Kim, this was my freshman year) and heard much complaining about it for about one or two songs. Then someone walking by the room (first floor; open door) peeked in to say something along the lines of, "omigosh, is that Barry Manilow? I love this song." Pretty soon, someone else stopped with something akin to, "omigosh, I used to love this song! Who is this?" The comments went on for the whole album. The roommate even had a few she liked! So, it has been my contention, since college, that EVERYONE is a closet Barry Manilow fan, even if he or she doesn't realize it. Folks just have to be reminded of it from time to time.

"Some days, I just want the dragon to win."
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Blogger dmercer3 said...

I just loved your article about Barry!
You just about summed up all my feelings about the man.
From One Barry Fan to Another.
Donna M.
North Rose, NY

11:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have to talk with you.

Starting an internet radio show about writers and writing. Consider guesting to talk about your career?

The fact that you're a 32 year long Manilow fan is just icing on the cake for me, been a fan since '74 myself.

Email me at

11:34 PM  

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