Friday night at Intrust Bank Arena presented a beautiful dichotomy.
Outside, the coarseness of 2016 was on full display, as Westboro Baptist Church picketers brandished their familiar signs.
Inside, 72-year-old Barry Manilow was in his coattails, representing a time gone by.
A classier time.
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A time when the solo singer-songwriter commanded the stage, spending years honing his or her performance skills.
A time when stages were lined with red velvet curtains.
A time when a live band – trombone, flute and trumpet included – accompanied every live performance.
For about 70 minutes Friday night at Intrust Bank Arena, Manilow transported about 5,000 “Fanilows” back to that time.
And for his part, Manilow looked lithe and agile for his age.
After Manilow was hospitalized last weekend following an emergency oral surgery, he postponed a few concerts this week.
Whatever ailed him back then was clearly history, as Manilow looked and sounded spry, bounding across the stage.
All that, after he had just finished a show Thursday night in Dallas.
Manilow’s show, part of his “One Last Time” Tour, was clearly an homage to the Fanilows who have followed him over the course of his four-decade career.
The largely baby-boomer crowd at Intrust Bank Arena was more than willing to dance and sing along with Manilow throughout the night.
“Oh, I feel like a teenager again,” a woman in the crowd said after he finished his hit, “Weekend in New England.” “I used to sing this in my room all the time.”
At one point, during his performance of “Could It Be Magic,” he assisted a front-row Fanilow onto the stage to slow-dance with him.
Because that’s just who Manilow is.
He cleverly used video monitors to sing two duets – one, off his recent album, with Judy Garland and one with himself.
The juxtaposition of 1975 Manilow with 2016 Manilow was a powerful moment in the performance, and it resonated with fans.
“Look how beautiful he was!” a Fanilow could be heard saying.
Seeing a talented performer like Manilow still be able to perform 40 years into his career is pretty remarkable.
If the “One Last Time” Tour truly is Manilow’s last hurrah, it will be sad to see such a talent retire.
During the concert, Manilow plugged his Manilow Music Project, which gives used music instruments to children in need.
Fans who brought in old instruments were given free tickets to the show, a noble gesture on Manilow’s part.
I would be remiss not to mention his opening act, Michael Lington, a Danish jazz saxophonist. Lington, in addition to performing a high-energy, fun opener, also joined Manilow on stage for his song, “Brooklyn Blues.”
Overall, Manilow dazzled the crowd and showed why he was a mega-star in the 1970s and beyond.
In the interest of full disclosure, I am now the only 22-year-old I know who can say he took his girl out to see Manilow live in concert.
That’s going to score some major points with the parents.