What a treat to hear one of my favorite songs, “Whenever I Call You Friend,” performed twice in one week by its writers: Kenny Loggins at the Wynn’s Encore Theatre + then Melissa Manchester at the gorgeous cabaret-style Myron’s at downtown’s Smith Center, an impressive art deco palace.
Melissa was my very first client in PR starting in 1979, and I’ve worked with her intermittently through the years (although not currently). My first biz trip in fact was to Vegas in 1980 when she headlined the Riviera Hotel’s showroom.
So here it was, 42 later, and Melissa was strong as ever in this stripped-down performance in front of a packed crowd (the first of two sold-out shows in one night). Her soulful vocals soared. Her song choices illuminated her artistry + her life. Her between song patter was witty + tender. Her musical accompaniment was spot-on. And the onstage visuals really enhanced the show by highlighting the songs + her key career moments. Plus she looked beautiful + was outfitted in a sparkling David Josef creation.
Melissa has achieved so much artistically, and the show accented all of it: her soulful NYC singer-songwriter “Midnight Blue” roots + her pop affinity, from the big ballads, to her song collaboration with Loggins, and to the pop-dance hit “You Should Hear How She Talks About You.” Her heartfelt tributes to the Great American Songbook were also outstanding. She grew up on the music of Judy Garland + Ella Fitzgerald, and she gave shout-outs to them.
Some of Melissa’s originals are worthy of placement in a newer Great American Songbook. Like the compassionate + supportive “Come In From The Rain,” her enduring hit penned with Carole Bayer Sager. The song is both specific + compellingly open-ended. When Melissa sang it on Saturday night, I thought about how divided America has become and how the song’s lyrics can also be viewed (to my mind) through the lens of someone who’s lending a helpful hand to an ailing country.
“It’s a long road
When you’re all alone
And someone like you
Will always take the long way home
There’s no right or wrong
I’m not here to blame
I just want to be the one
To keep you from the rain
From the rain”
Melissa noted from the stage that there’s a new album on the way: “RE:VIEW,” a stripped down re-imagining of her classics imbued with the kind of rich, seasoned vocals she displayed at Myron’s.