The casino circuit gig is usually a sad dumping ground for musicians on the last leg of a career; the vestiges of a long-gone music industry, before the Internet ruined everything. Those shows allow them to hang on just a bit longer to whatever amount of money their fame and name recognition can still get.
This Saturday, Sandia Casino will host Barry Manilow. Instead of clinging, Barry still rides the crest of his prowess and fame. His accomplishments are many and varied, even compared to some of the top creative artists in the music world. He retains standing gigs at Vegas hotels. He doesn't really need this. You should be thankful.
Barry Manilow has produced some of the softest music known to man. His songs let us forget about our cruel, mechanistic world and envelop listeners in an aural blanket of explorations into the myriad facets of love. This could rightfully be called escapist. It focuses our gaze close to our hearts. A Manilow song is not like life—it's akin to looking through a picture album and getting idealized, framed views of what life used to be like.
Go ahead and put your head on Barry's chest; it's all right. There's a glossy and hazy sheen to his music. A triumph for him is holding hands with the woman he loves. This tenderness is not winning any wars, but it might prevent them. Manilow's love is the one-on-one, Disney variety. Sex, if ever alluded to, is not the focus, though it is surely an impetus. While the prelude to sex or its aftermath deserves a catalog of songs, the dirty, beautiful act itself is behind a curtain of sentimentality.
Manilow's popularity is the exclusive provenance of older people. It's the sort of music you listen to when you want things to be comfortable and easy. "We Still Have Time" resonates with people that don't really have a lot of time but would like to think so. Kids have no idea life goes so fast. The rest of us like to pretend it doesn't. Manilow isn't looking forward or pushing us forward. He's talking us down instead of picking us up.
Manilow seeks to give his listeners the musical equivalent of a muscle relaxant, and he's good at it. Life's complexities melt away as he croons. Let Barry put his arm over your shoulder. He's here to give without taking, save for a few Emmys, a Grammy and some American Music Awards.