Feinstein’s/54 Below, NYC, Friday, March 3, 2017
Reviewed by Candace Leeds for Cabaret Scenes
Melissa Manchester transported an adoring audience back into the ’70s and ’80s with a winning performance of many of her greatest hits. Her powerful voice, evocative style and winning personality were undiminished, as she traced her 45-year career through stories and song.
Manchester opened with a rousing “I Happen to Like New York” (Cole Porter) as she declared, “Now I’m back to the land of the living—that’s how I feel when I am in this town!” Throughout the lively show, she made creative use of videos, using two screens flanking the stage. For several songs, she managed to perfectly sync her live performance with the image her younger self in concert, particularly in the punchy “You Should Hear How She Talks About You” (Dean Pitchford/Tom Snow). That song, originally recorded for her album Hey Ricky, was a real departure for Manchester, who had previously been known for her ballads. She performed her Academy Award- nominated hit, “Through the Eyes of Love (Theme from Ice Castles)” (Marvin Hamlisch/Carole Bayer Sager), accompanied by a video of the late Hamlisch on piano, and her medley of Barry Manilow songs was a duet with Manilow on video. Her interpretation of “Be My Baby” (Jeff Barry/Ellie Greenwich/Phil Spector), made famous by the Ronettes, brought new meaning to the words. Of course, Manchester totally inhabited her hit song, “Don’t Cry Out Loud” (Peter Allen/Carole Bayer Sager) and the audience responded with a rousing standing ovation. Melissa Manchester treated the audience to a grand supper-club evening.