Barry Manilow’s April 19 concert in Huntington will be his first visit to the city.
“I’ve been on the road for so many years, to find a place I’ve never played before is a rarity. I’m looking forward to it,” he said, noting he expects to enjoy the crowd.
“I know I’ll have a great audience. That area has always been great to me,” he said.
Even though Manilow’s show corresponds with the release of the new album, “15 Minutes,” he plans to play some of the tunes he’s best known for, such as “Mandy,” “Could It Be Magic?” and “Looks Like We Made It.” He said the songs he’s been playing for years don’t really get old to him.
“They’re so much more than pop songs to me,” the 68-year-old singer-songwriter-producer said. “They’re filled with memories and people and places and who I was with, and as I get older, they have so much more weight and memories to them.”
On occasion, he said, a song might become a bit stale after being performed in concert after concert, but Manilow said he takes it out of rotation and puts it back after a while.
“I’m lucky enough to have so many songs that people know that I can take out one or two for a while,” he said.
The Huntington show also will be the most intimate of concerts, he said, noting he no longer uses a 75-piece orchestra.
“I decided I couldn’t get any bigger so I decided to go the other way and go smaller,” he said. “This is as close to a one-man show as I’ve ever done.” Even though he has a smaller band, Manilow said it’s a gorgeous show that includes beautiful videos. The smaller-scale show also allows him more freedom to change the lineup of the show on a whim.
“What I wound up doing on those (most recent) shows was just calling out songs that I wanted to sing,” he said. “I haven’t done that in years.”
His new album, “15 Minutes,” is a concept album that deals with an issue on the forefront of many minds: fame.
After appearing on three seasons of “American Idol,” Manilow said he became concerned about the road ahead of the young people who came into fame and success suddenly.
“I saw for myself very young people become household names overnight and we would watch them become stars overnight and we would just count down the months until they do something silly and wound up on TMZ,” he said. “It made me stop and think about how people handle fame and success in general, not just in the world of show business but even the guy on the corner with the little store that becomes successful and he becomes president of some great big corporation. How does he handle becoming successful? What does he do to people? Is he kind to his staff or does he treat people badly?”
He said he recalled being overwhelmed when he was 29 with the success of his song, “Mandy” and wondered how difficult it must be for very young people to come to fame on reality television shows. Ultimately, he began writing the album after seeing Britney Spears inundated by media while she was trying to exit a car.
The first original album he’s made since “Here at the Mayflower,” “15 Minutes,” which he wrote with his collaborator, Nick Anderson, tells the story of a person who seeks fame, achieves it, loses it again and seeks it again.
He said he’d read of young people who simply wanted to be famous without specifying what they wanted to be famous for.
”Somebody needs to sit them down and tell them, ‘That’s not a good ambition,’” he said.
He recommends those who listen to the album “15 Minutes” listen from beginning to end to get the full impact of the story that’s being told.
Manilow has had success as a pop singer and songwriter, but also as the writer of jingles, including familiar trademark tunes for Kentucky Fried Chicken, State Farm, Dr. Pepper Band-Aid. In the 1970s, he accompanied Bette Midler, among other artists, on piano during live performances. He went on to assist her with the production of two of her albums. In 1974, his first album was released; his second album contained his break-through number one hit, “Mandy,” which marked the beginning of multiple hits and platinum albums for Manilow, as well as sold-out concert halls in the United States and the United Kingdom.
In the last 30-plus years, his career has included television specials, guest appearances, a movie role, awards, books and live performances. He has sold more than 80 million records worldwide and is known to be a supporter of music education, having endowed the music departments of six major universities in the United States and Canada.
Barry Manilow will perform at 7:30 p.m. April 19 at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena. To place ticket orders or charge by phone, go to Ticketmaster.com or (800) 745-3000
LEE WARD can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2661.