Debra Kate Schafer

The Greatest Returns to Radio City Music Hall – Barry Manilow

The thing about Barry Manilow is this: he is as ageless and timeless and joyful and vibrant as you would want him to be. You can take it from me, a veteran #Fanilow, or you could take it from the thousands of people flooding the streets of Sixth Avenue after experiencing what is nothing short of a night to remember. What Barry Manilow does on stage is the quintessential blend of classic New Yorker meets exuberant performer; he is hilarious, self-deprecating, flamboyant, romantic, nostalgic, and quick-witted. He bridges gaps between generations, he entertains the masses with hits and bits that stand the test of ever-changing times, and – pun intended – he sings the hell out of those damn songs. (Some 20-plus songs, actually, including requests and the Wheel of Barry. You have to see him to understand, if you haven’t yet, but really… if you haven’t, why? He’s been all over for five decades!) Like most, we danced down the aisles and out the door of the theatre wishing for another set, another encore, another slew of soul-stirring, memory-inducing tracks performed from the man behind them all. Still, one cannot begin to think of a song missing from the concert at large. Manilow fills every second with entertainment and cheer (and every corner of the room with #Fanilows).

At Night Two of his five-night Radio City residency this April 18, Manilow expressed adoration for his city and the fans who not only call it home, but who flock to it just to hear “Mandy” and “Copacabana” live for the first, fifth, or 50th time. Because like the listeners who buy tickets time and time again, the entertainer loves to return to the stage – essentially never leaving it, too, between big city stints, arena touring, and Vegas residencies. (Speaking of, Manilow beat the record for most performances on the famous Strip, specifically the Vegas International Theater, last fall with 637 shows held there. The record was set by Elvis way back when. Yes, Mr. “I Write The Songs” beat Mr. “Jailhouse Rock” in the year 2023. And, get this – on the fifth night of this run at Radio City Music Hall, Manilow set another record! He has now headlined the most concerts at the beloved Big Apple venue more than anyone else, coming in at a whopping 42. That’s our Barry Manilow.)

Many, many, many of these performances are completely sold out, and they sell out months before the actual show date. Why? Because like we said, the star is ageless and timeless and joyful and vibrant. He lights up with every melody, every audience interaction, every standing ovation. (Still, the 80-year-old is remarkably humble.) With a world class band orchestrating the hits and a backup singers just as elated to be singing these songs as he, the entire production is top notch. Every fan leaves with warmth in their heart, a greater respect for the Brooklynite, and a newfound realization that we, as a society, can’t smile without him.