Manilow led his orchestra through a 90-minute set of obscure album tracks and massive radio smashes, and discussed his oldest and newest songs. Everything worked fabulously.
Before getting everybody crying with "I Am Your Child," a ballad which originally appeared on Manilow's little-listened-to first album in 1971, he told of growing up in Brooklyn and having his grandfather take him to Times Square every weekend to work on his music. Manilow played a crackly recording of him as a four-year-old singing Nat King Cole's "Nature Boy," and said Grandpa paid a quarter to have it made, then sat behind an electric keyboard and joined his young self live.
Diehard members of Manilow's fan base, dubbed the Fanilows, let themselves be heard in what was an intimate space for a guy who filled arenas for the last several decades. During a theater-wide singalong of "Can't Smile Without You," a woman old enough to remember that tune's first run on pop radio back in 1978 ran to the front of the stage waving a "Pick Me!" sign. Manilow wasn't conducting any sort of contest at the time, but rewarded her nonetheless by handing her his microphone and letting her take a few bars worth of lead vocals. Another supporter of similar vintage and devotion in the first row wildly waved a placard saying "I've waited 35 years for this!" until Manilow acknowledged her.