Manchester Up Close and Personal

     

"After All This Time," was written by Grammy Award winner Melissa Manchester to tell the story of lasting love inspired by her own marriage. That song title made me think of something a little different Tuesday night after her concert at the Orange County Performing Arts Center. After all this time, I had finally found Melissa Manchester and I was sorry it took so long.

Sometimes you can be limited to what you hear on the radio and think that's all that there is to a certain artist. On this night I found that if you look, there is often so much more.

     

Of course going into a show such as this, everyone wants to hear the old favorites that they know so well. Manchester made sure she appeased everyone in attendance by playing her classics, including; "Don't Cry Out Loud," "Come in From the Rain" and "Midnight Blue." By the time she was done though, Manchester left you running out the doors to find a copy of her new album, "When I Look Down That Road."

No song on this night, new or old, could compare to Manchester sitting behind the piano on the mesmerizing "Bend," which by the time it was over I had to bring myself back from wherever in my mind that this song had taken me.

The PAC was such an incredible and intimate setting for this concert, it allowed you to feel Manchester's energy, see her beauty and the pure happiness she has performing. She was able to make the entire near capacity crowd feel as though she was singing to each one individually, or telling her stories to them in the living room of her house.

Manchester relayed the story of meeting Kenny Loggins at a number of awards shows in the seventies and finally deciding they should write a song together. Loggins showed up her house one night with a bottle of wine and by the time they were done the hit song "Whenever I Call You Friend" was created.

Manchester then when right into the song with her guitarist Peter Hume. Hume not only did a marvelous job on the Loggins portion of this song, but also seemed to have a special connection with Manchester the entire night, as his guitar complimented her voice beautifully.

The 18-song set was filled with incredible ballads, which seemed most fitting of Manchester's flawless voice, but she was not afraid to go other directions.

Manchester was not afraid to pick up the pace with another song of her latest album "Angels Dancing," had everyone in the audience just itching to get out of their seats and dance to this great upbeat song. Manchester also gave the crowd a taste of the blues with "So's My Old Man" and "Be Happy Now."

Leaving this show and having that perfect voice still flowing in my memory, it made me ponder how it is that we may have an entire generation that may be missing out on a voice like Melissa Manchester's, while we have millions upon millions of people staring at television sets watching karaoke singers on "American Idol?" Melissa will be at the PAC through March 12 so if you want and up close and personal performance of a real artist, call (714) 556-2787 for ticket information and find out what you may have been missing. For more information on Melissa Manchester and her latest album visit www.melissamanchester.com.

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