Barry Manilow

THE man with a nose for a good song made a welcome return to Dublin last night, just in time for the current revival of interest…

THE man with a nose for a good song made a welcome return to Dublin last night, just in time for the current revival of interest in all things mellow and easy. Barry Manilow, the man who, indeed, made the whole world sing, performed in the round at Dublin's Point Theatre, and he showed the world that, on the eve of his 50th year he's still got that classic entertainer's touch.

Standing neatly and stiffly in his cobalt blue jacket, Manilow put his Julliard education to good use, swinging in and out of every showbiz style, from Latin American to Brooklyn Jazz, at all times keeping one foot in the middle of the road. If Sinatra and Bennett are the cream of easy listening, then Baz is the cheese; luckily, however, he's a mature cheddar and not just an easy single. Watching Manilow perform his studiously schmaltzy routine was like witnessing the reality behind the parody, the original of the species which made Mike Flowers flip his wig.

With his band safely tucked away in the pit, Manilow shared centre stage with a revolving dais and a grand piano, and sometimes he was joined onstage by three of the most vibrant backing singers which central casting could muster. Baz led his troupers through some showy Broad way style syncopation, then switched from the faintly to the strangely sublime, delivering a perfectly paced ballad called Weekend In New England, and almost doing justice to Jacques Brel with a solid rendition of If We Only Have Love. Baz, meet Scott - you two have more in common than we realised.

In true easy listening tradition, Manilow likes to re arrange songs which sounded perfectly good the first time round, defying the if it ain't broke adage with almost stoic abandon. Thus, the rock `n' roll classic Do You Wanna Dance was given the sultry soul treatment by his lead female singer, and the pop duet, We've Got Tonight, was dealt a soft, solo reading. Then the rhythms went wild for Bermuda Triangle and Copacabana, but alas, although Baz was well up to doing the vocal lambada his limbs didn't quite manage to loosen up.


With an admirable eye on changing trends, Manilow did Could It Be Magic in the style of Take That's more recent version, upgrading his disco sound to something vaguely resembling Euro cheese, but he brought things right, back to classic proportions with an unadulterated I Write The Songs. If this is elevator music, then it must have been made to touch the skyscrapers.

Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney is an Irish Times journalist