Manilow gets to the heart of Vegas 

So far, Barry Manilow appears to be pretty happy in his new home at Paris Las Vegas in the heart of the Strip.

After a successful five-year stint at the Hilton, he made it, as he said during Saturday night’s opening weekend performance, to the “other side of the monorail.”

Designed specifically for the hotel’s relatively intimate 1,500-seat theater, this show is his most cozy and personal ever, pegging to a theme of romance (not to mention tying in with his most recent recording, “The Greatest Love Songs of All Time”).

Always a consummate showman, Manilow (who co-created this new production with director Jeff Hornaday) again displays his excellent sensibilities in this seamlessly paced, crowd-pleasing act. It offers something for longtime admirers who have carefully followed his 35-year career and for casual casino-goers who know him as the guy who sings “Copacabana.” (He did, in the closing and most boisterous number, which had fewer ruffles than did previous incarnations).

Early on, the gem he throws out for “Fanilows” is the up-tempo “I Want To Be Somebody’s Baby,” an obscure but terrific anti-love song off his second album. Another in that vein is the lively “New York City Rhythm,” featuring fun piano solos by Manilow and multiple keyboard players in his band.

Those tunes provide a nice counterpoint to the ballads for which he’s best known: “Could It Be Magic,” “Somewhere in the Night,” “Weekend in New England” and “Mandy.”

“This One’s For You,” he says, always reminds him of his grandfather, who coaxed his musical abilities when he was young boy.

In a particularly touching moment, he plays a scratchy, old recording he made with his grandfather of himself singing “Nature Boy” when he was around 4, then sings a gorgeous adult version of the tune.

Equally appealing are his covers of classics including “Our Love Is Here To Stay,” “Theme from Love Story” and “Love Me Tender.” Yes, Barry even pulls off an Elvis tune.

Despite a power outage that apparently disrupted rehearsals before the opening, the technical aspects of the show — most notably the supercool high-definition video images of Impressionist masterpieces from Paris — serve as the perfect complement to the magic of the music.

Of course, in the end, the show is truly about the music. And in typical fashion, Manilow surrounds himself with an impeccable 10-piece band and convivial quartet of backup vocalists/dancers.

lkatz@sfexaminer.com


If you go
Barry Manilow

Where: Paris Las Vegas, 3655 Las Vegas Blvd. South, Las Vegas
When: 7:30 p.m. Fridays-Sundays
Tickets: $95 to $250
Contact: (800) 745-3000, www.ticketmaster.com

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Leslie Katz

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