Cher, Tina Turner and Mötley Crüe didn’t mince words. They called it their “Farewell Tour” because they were done with performing. Never mind that Cher and the Crüe each visited the Twin Cities three times on their exit trek.
Barry Manilow is telling it like it is. He’s calling it his One Last Time Tour. And it’s coming to Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul on Thursday. It will be his final show in the Twin Cities. The 72-year-old explained that and other things in a recent phone interview.
Q: What do you mean by “One Last Time”? Are you retiring?
A: It’s our final American tour. Then I go to Britain in June and that’s the end of my touring life. It’s not the end of my performance life. I’ll probably do a one-nighter here and there, maybe a residency someplace. But it’s the end of the road.
Q: Will you perform a residency in Las Vegas again?
A: I would consider it. We’re not even thinking about anything like that now. We’re just wanting to get through this tour and finish the new album I’m making.
Q: What can we expect on this tour?
A: This show is a little different. I don’t have an album to promote. It’s the last time I’ll be in the cities so it makes sense to do as many hits and album hits like “Bandstand Boogie” that became popular. The show is filled with very well-known songs. The fans don’t want me to promote my latest anything. I haven’t done a tour quite like this ever. “Read ’Em and Weep,” “Somewhere Down the Road,” “Ships,” I haven’t done these songs in years. The audience is having a great time and that’s all I care about.
Q: Are you performing anything from your 2014 “Dream Duets” album on which you sang with Whitney Houston, Louis Armstrong, Dusty Springfield and others who are no longer with us?
A: We have three videos we made when we finished making the album. The one I’m doing on this [tour] is the duet with the Judy Garland song [“Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart”]. The video’s my duet partner. I was nervous. A long time ago, Judy did that. Thank goodness, it’s going over just great.
Q: You know she was born in Minnesota.
A: Right. I have to say that, then. Thank you for that.
Q: You usually bring a fan onstage to sing “Can’t Smile Without You.” What’s the craziest thing that’s happened with a fan in concert?
A: It happened a couple of weeks ago. Somebody just got carried away and jumped up on the stage and I turned into Justin Bieber. My security people rushed her offstage. It was kind of exciting. But it’s dangerous for the fan. In order to get up on that stage, you’ve got to crawl. I don’t want them to hurt themselves.
Q: What do you remember about your previous Twin Cities appearances? Like when you rehearsed at Prince’s Paisley Park for a tour?
A: I did. That was Prince’s place, right. It was always frozen. We had great times there. We played a small theater there once where I did my “Showstoppers” show.
Q: That was in 1991 when they reopened the State Theatre in downtown Minneapolis and we had the biggest snowstorm ever. It was Halloween.
A: That’s what I remember. The biggest snowstorm ever. Wow! I think I’ve been to this area 15 times since I started touring in the ’70s. We’re old friends.
Q: Tell us about your next album.
A: It’s half standards and half originals. It’s called “This Is My Town: Songs of New York.” I’m really enjoying making this. My collaborators and I are writing some nice original things. The touring keeps getting in the way. We’re trying to get it out before Christmas or maybe early next year.
Q: People always talk about how you write the songs. Not enough attention is given to your showmanship. Where does that sense of showmanship come from?
A: Beats the [expletive] out of me. As you know, I never started off wanting to do this. I started off wanting to be a musician, songwriter, producer. That’s where I was heading. Out of the blue, this performing career dropped into my lap and I had to learn to do that. The bad reviews I got, I deserved them. I was comfortable behind the piano, but when I got up and tried to talk to the audience and sing, I was awkward and I didn’t know what I was doing.
But the audience never had trouble with it from the very first time I did it in a little club in Philadelphia. It was on-the-job learning. I really enjoy entertaining these people.
Q: Where does your energy come from?
A: Oh, please! You stand on that stage with 10,000 people shouting, you’d have to be dead not to have the energy that happens. It’s fantastic. I’m going to miss that. I don’t want to stop that. It’s not the job. The performing and concerts are thrilling; it never gets old. Just getting [to the concerts], that’s what’s gotten to me. It’s been 45 years of room service. The audiences aren’t strangers anymore; they’re friends. I’m going to miss that feeling.
Q: Minnesotans want to hear about your encounter with our home-state hero Bob Dylan at that Passover Seder at Burt Bacharach’s in the late 1980s.
A: Before I left, he came over and said, “Keep on doing what you’re doing. We’re all inspired by you.” It was a wonderful thing to hear because those were the days when I was getting absolutely creamed by the critics, so for him to say that to me was a very, very important moment for me.
Q: Some people weren’t sure if Dylan was serious or joking.
A: I want to believe he was serious.
Q: People comment about what great shape you’re in. What’s your workout regimen?
A: When I am home, I work out three times a week. I try to eat right. I don’t have trouble with weight. I’m a skinny guy. On the road, we stay in first-class hotels; they always have gyms, so we go down to the gym whenever we can.
Q: What do you do before a show to warm up?
A: Nothing. I don’t consider myself a singer. I don’t pay attention to warming up. So many singers I’ve worked with have to spend an hour inhaling steam or whatever. I don’t do any of that. The first time I hear what my voice sounds like is when I start the first song.
Q: How do you want to be remembered?
A: As somebody who made you feel. I’m not the kind of guy who makes you tap your toes or has junk words and melodies. I like to make the audience feel — feel good, feel sad, feel inspired. I want them to feel something with my music.