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Barry Manilow is out on the road for One Last Time!
Barry Manilow is calling his current concert trek the Once Last Time! Tour.
And he says he means it.
"It is. It's the last big tour," the man who writes the songs that make the whole world sing (though he didn't write that particular one) says. "It doesn't mean I'm retiring or anything. I'll do shows and I'll promote albums if I make anymore, but no more big tours. That's it."
How come? "It's too much packing," says Manilow, 71, a Brooklyn native who was Bette Midler's musical director and wrote commercial jingles before launching a career that's sold more than 80 albums worldwide and earned Manilow, Grammy, Tony and Emmy awards.
"It's 40 years -- more than that, really -- of packing and waiting for room service. People think it's glamorous, but glamorous is the last word I would use for this job. You don't see anything; you see the inside of your hotel room, you see the inside of a car, you see the inside of your dressing room and then you're gone. I haven't gone sightseeing, ever. It's a job.
"Listen, Tony Bennett seems to be wonderful at it and he has no problems doing it. For me, it's enough. I'll probably miss the excitement, but I won't miss the touring. So I'm call it One Last Time! and I mean it -- today, at least," he adds with a laugh.
If it truly is his last go-round, Manilow promises that his fans will get what they came for. Though he had two albums out during 2014 -- the Grammy Award-nominated "Night Songs" and "My Dream Duets" with a variety of deceased singers -- the One Last Time! shows will focus on the familiar and beloved.
"I'm trying to do as many of the well-known songs as I can, hardly any album cuts this time," he says. "I'm doing the longest show that I've done for awhile. I'm trying to get in as many of the big hits as I can. Hopefully people will remember them, but I'm going to do them anyway."
The tour coincides with the 40th anniversary celebration of Manilow's first hit, "Mandy," a rearrangement of Scott English's 1971 U.K. hit which hit No. 1 in 1975 and launched a string of 16 Top 10 hits between then and 1981. "They gave me credit for making the first 'power ballad,' " Manilow recalls. "I didn't know I was making the first power ballad. It was a very nice song, and I had no idea it would be a hit. Matter of fact, I thought it would be the last song on the album that could get on the radio since there was nothing like it on the radio, a romantic ballad.
"So I finished in the studio, picked up the dry cleaning, fed the dog, walked the dog -- and a month later, my life exploded into a million pieces."
Success, of course, gave Manilow the license to explore all sorts of creative avenues as the hits dried up during the early 80s -- starting with the jazzy "2:00 A.M. Paradise Cafe" in 1984 and including a series of "Greatest Songs" collections dedicated to specific decades, Frank Sinatra and big band tribute albums, and scores for films such as "Thumbelina" and "The Pebble and the Penguin." His continuing endeavor is "Harmony," a musical about the German singing group the Comedian Harmonists (1928-34) that premiered during the fall of 1997 in La Jolla, Calif., and that Manilow still hopes to show on Broadway.
And he certainly anticipates there are more musical projects ahead.
"Y'know, one of the things I'm very proud of is I have ideas," he says. "You give me a project, give me a couple hours and I'll come up with a way of doing it, whether it's a song or a show or a tour or a record. It always starts with an idea, and so far I haven't run out of them."
Barry Manilow and Dave Koz
7:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 15.
The Palace of Auburn Hills, Lapeer Road at I-75.
Tickets are $19.75-$149.75.
Call 248-377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.
Note: Fans can bring new or gently used musical instruments for the Manilow Music Project to the Palace in exchange for two tickets to the show. The instruments will be donated to the Pontiac School District.
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