CEDAR RAPIDS - Say it isn't so. Two hours of Barryaoke just isn't enough for the Fanilows who jammed the U.S. Cellular Center arena Friday night for Barry Manilow's "One Last Time!" tour.
He did leave the door ajar, telling the more than 4,000 screaming fans: "I hope we see each other again."
So do we.
He's at the top of his game, looking and sounding even better on the brink of 73 than he did on the brink of stardom in 1973.
The following year, "Mandy" struck gold for the golden-throated crooner from the mean streets of Brooklyn, and the rest is history, through Grammys, Emmys, Tonys and lifetime achievement awards.
He wrote the songs the whole world has been singing for more than 40 years, and his Cedar Rapids audience was in fine voice, singing right along with him and dancing in the aisles.
From the opening strains of "It's a Miracle," he sang, swayed and sashayed his way through as many of his greatest hits as he could pack into two hours. He's never sounded better, ending song after song with his signature soaring high notes, in the same keys as in his youth.
The entire concert shimmered with polish and panache, with lush background instrumentals and vocal harmonies from three singers, two keyboard players, two percussionists, a guitarist, bassist and three-piece horn section.
Jumbo screens flanking the stage brought the action up close for everyone, from fans in the far reaches of the balconies to those of us on the floor who couldn't see over the heads in front of us. Manilow looked fantastic, in dashing black tails, later changing to a white tux jacket with satin lapels.
He's a class act, through and through, and a consummate showman.
The concert wove seamlessly down a hit parade, with every song bringing screams from the opening notes and heart-pounding chords.
He romanced us with "Somewhere in the Night," "Can't Smile Without You," "Looks Like We Made It," "Could This Be the Magic" and so many other titles that aptly describe the concert experience. He waxed poetic with "Weekend in New England," still the most gorgeous of them all, enveloped in thrilling, intoxicating piano flourishes.
He ignited the air with blistering horns on his autobigraphical "Brooklyn Blues," fueled by saxman Dave Koz, who opened the evening with his own 30-minute set of hot, cool and smooth jazz.
Manilow also treated us to two stellar duets - the first by harmonizing with a video of Judy Garland on "Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart," topped by a duet with video of his younger self singing "Mandy" on the old "Midnight Special" show. As good as he was back then, he's even better today, singing with a richer, fuller voice and a more confident stage presence honed with time, experience and all the love lavished on him by the crowd.
And of course, he just couldn't say good-bye without showing us just exactly why he continues to make our hearts go zing. He pulled out all the stops for "I Write the Songs," backed by the Cedar Rapids Concert Chorale, before setting the mirror ball and fans' feet spinning through "Copacabana."
Thanks for the memories, Barry. We hope we see you again, too.