Obscurity Knocks

Earnest, empathetic, industrious, unpretentious, gay Virgo in Milwaukee with a great life, amazing friends, and a wonderful family.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Melissa Manchester concert - a 2007 highlight

Words cannot adequately describe the past day. It was both unexpected and amazing. Yesterday at this time I had no idea that I would not only see the incomparable Melissa Manchester perform, but that I would also meet her, have my picture taken with her, and get a personal autograph signed on her latest CD. I'm on a bona fide Melissa Manchester high.
I saw Melissa perform last night at the Capitol Civic Center in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, which is where my parents live. I was my mom's date to the concert, and it was an ultimate mother-with-her-gay-son evening.
Let me say that Melissa looks wonderful; time has been good to her. She has gorgeous eyes, a beautiful face, and her trademark long, curly hair. More importantly she is effervescent, engaging, and incredibly entertaining. She was gracious, honest, and funny throughout the two hour concert. She performed at a Steinway grand piano accompanied by Stephan Oberfhoff on acoustic guitar and keyboards.
Not only does Melissa have a truly remarkable and inspiring voice, she is also a talented pianist, and a gifted and outstanding songwriter. She demonstrated all of these talents in her performance last night. She came on stage wearing a teal patterned jacket and skirt. She opened with one of her newer songs, followed by "Through the Eyes of Love (Theme from Ice Castles)." I cheered extra loud for that classic song at Ruben's request.
Melissa mixed old and new songs throughout the show. Fortunately she performed many of her best known songs, including her first hit, "Midnight Blue." Melissa explained that when she wrote "Midnight Blue," she recorded a demo and sent it to Dionne Warwick's producer hoping that Ms. Warwick would record it. Dionne heard the demo and said that whoever was singing on that needed to record the song because she has an amazing voice. So Melissa recorded it, and "Midnight Blue" became her first hit song, launching a distinguished career. Before singing "Whenever I Call You Friend," she told about how she and Kenny Loggins were frequently paired up at awards shows in the 80s as presenters. After the fifth or sixth time, they decided to collaborate. So Kenny brought a bottle of wine over to Melissa's house, and they ended up with "Whenever I Call You Friend." She also performed "Just Too Many People," which is one of my favorites.
After the brief intermission Melissa returned to the stage wearing black slacks and a white men's dress shirt. She explained that some of her luggage was lost, so she went shopping at the Manitowoc Wal-Mart and bought this new outfit. Of course, she looked fabulous.
Melissa took quite a few years off from performing to raise her two children, who are now adults. She noted that she and her husband will soon celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary, a rarity in her business.
Unfortunately she did not sing "You Should Hear How She Talks About You" or my personal favorite, "Just You and I."
Melissa did a slow and emotional cover version of "By My Baby" by the Ronettes, as well as her own version of "Son of a Preacher Man" by Dusty Springfield. Melissa told the audience that she wrote a number of songs for Dusty Springfield over the years. When Ms. Springfield knew that she didn't have long to live, she called Melissa to thank her for their professional and personal relationship. So Melissa performed "Son of a Preacher Man" as a tribute to her friend.
Melissa closed the show with her signature song, "Don't Cry Out Loud." She didn't play the piano during this number; she sang accompanied by acoustic guitar. There's no doubt that she's a true performer - she has unique and compelling way of looking at her audience when she's playing the piano and singing. When she's not playing the piano she uses dramatic and effective hand gestures, during which you can tell that she began her professional career as a backup singer for Bette Midler.
For an encore she played "A Mother's Prayer," a touching song she wrote with Karen Taylor Good about her love for her children and all mothers' love for their children. This song was particularly poignant for me since I was at the concert with my mom.
Melissa announced that she would be in the lobby after the performance signing CDs. So Mom and I waited for about fifteen minutes in line to meet her. By the time we reached the front of the line, I was so nervous that my knees were shaking and I had butterflies in my stomach. As I typically do when I'm nervous, I talked way too fast. I said something along the lines of, "Ms. Manchester, you're an amazing singer and songwriter and your performance tonight was wonderful. Could I get my picture taken with you?" She said sure, stood up, and Mom took our photo. She was incredibly gracious and kind, signing my CD, "To Steve, love to you, Melissa Manchester." While Mom was taking our picture, I told Melissa that "Just You and I" is my favorite song of hers. She said thank you. Then Melissa shook Mom's hand, and that was it.
It was a magical evening. Thanks Mom, for the ticket, and here's to you, Melissa. You're the best!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have already left my comments on my blog regarding this series of posts. All I can say, is thank you for the music, the songs I am singing. Yes, that is quoting ABBA, but it's appropriate now for having the definition complete for CO vs. OOC.


9:45 PM  

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