Barry Manilow - vocals, piano; Sid McGinnis - guitar; Alan Axelrod - keyboards; Charlie Brown - guitar; Steven Donaghey - bass; Lee Gurst - drums, percussion; Jimmy Maeulen - percussion; Lorraine "Reparata" Mazzola - background vocals; Debra Byrd - background vocals; Ramona Brooks - background vocals; Ron Dante - background vocals
When he was first signed to Clive Davis' new label, Arista, in 1974, there was a huge buzz about Barry Manilow. After all, he emerged as the pianist and musical director for the Divine Miss M, Bette Midler. His tenure performing in the Manhattan Gay Bathhouses even allowed him a certain hip factor. In the beginning of his career, when this show was recorded, there was talk among some critics that Barry Manilow was going to evolve into a prolific singer/songwriter/pianist (ala Elton John, Billy Joel, and Randy Newman), but then he went excessively sentimental in his show and song selection, and didn't really uphold that expectation, although he has a legion of devout fans that would claim otherwise.
This show was recorded in Los Angeles at the famed Troubador club (where, ironically, Elton John was introduced to America) in 1975. Manilow was promoting his second album, and although he hadn't yet recorded his biggest hit, "I Write The Songs," he did have "Mandy," "Got The Feeling," and "It's A Miracle" under his belt. Although it is arguable that Barry Manilow plays it relatively safe and caters to a more soft rock loving crowd, it is clear that he had an extra energy and spark at the onset.
He dips into his past once on this recording, when he does his own interpretation of the Midler classic, "You've Got To Have Friends," which he recorded when they worked together. His backing band at this show included a cast of interesting musicians: Sid McGuiness would go on to become a guitarist for Peter Gabriel and then in the David Letterman house band; Jimmy Maeulen was a percussionist for Bruce Springsteen and others; and backup singer Ron Dante was lead vocalist of the cartoon group, The Archies, most well known for their hit single "Sugar Sugar."