Barry Manilow says he’s not kidding about the One Last Time! title of his latest — and, he maintains, final — concert tour.
“It’s the last big tour,” Manilow tells Billboard. The trek starts Wednesday in Omaha, Neb., and plays 27 dates before wrapping up June 17 in his hometown of Brooklyn, N.Y. “It doesn’t mean I’m retiring or anything. I’ll do shows and I’ll promote albums if I make any more, but no more big tours. That’s it. It’s too much packing. 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 calling it One Last Time! and I mean it — today, at least,” he adds with a laugh.
The One Last Time! Tour also coincides with the 40th anniversary of “Mandy,” Manilow’s first No. 1 hit and a song that launched a string of 16 top 10 hits between 1974 and 1981. Accordingly, Manilow plans to give fans what they came for during the shows. “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 a while. The last tour rehearsal we did was over two hours. 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.”
After a prolific 2014 during which he released two albums — the Grammy Award-nominated Night Songs and the My Favorite Duets set on which he sang to recordings of late artists — Manilow has “a couple of ideas for future projects.” Chief among those, he says, is finally bringing Harmony, his musical about Germany’s the Comedian Harmonists, to Broadway. “I’d like Harmony to get to the finish line,” he says. “We opened in Atlanta to brilliant reviews. Then we opened in L.A. to brilliant reviews, and we’ve got producers who are trying to get it into New York, which I would love to finally see.” But Manilow also recognizes that bringing a show, especially an original story, to the Great White Way has become a “very, very dangerous” proposition.
“Look what happened to Sting (and The Last Ship),” he says. “I saw his show. It was beautiful — beautiful score, very interesting show, he did a beautiful job and they lost everything. You just don’t play around with this Broadway musical thing unless you just want to lose everything. You put your heart and your soul into it, and when it doesn’t work, as most of them don’t, it just takes a piece out of you. But I’ve been working Harmony for so many years and I so believe in it and it’s such great work I’d just like to see it through to the end.”