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 Neil and I had a fantastic time with gambling, dinner and the Barry Manilow concert at Foxwoods on Saturday!  

Planning
There was a meme on Facebook awhile back where people posted 10 concerts, but they had only been to 9 of them, and people guessed which one they had not seen.  It led to wonderful memories about concerts people had attended but also made me resolve to get Neil to see Barry Manilow, one of his main inspirations to start composing and arranging music. 

So I hopped on the internet and looked up Barry's last tour schedule and voila!  He was appearing less than 2 hours from us at the Foxwoods Casino on Memorial Day weekend!  And there were good seats left!  Thanks for Mom's generous bequest to me, I have money to do these things now so I bought tickets, booked a hotel about 30 minutes up the road from Foxwoods and made a dinner reservation at the fancy steak house!  

The Hotel 
We stayed at the La Quinta Inn in Plainfield, CT.  The hotels inside or close to Foxwoods charge ridiculous prices, so I kept shifting my search north until I found a more reasonable rate.  It was right off the highway, with a gas station, Dunkin Donuts, Wendy's and a strip mall with a Big Y grocery, Subway, and even a Chinese restaurant.  The drive from Cambridge was shorter than I thought - only 90 minutes - so we arrived early but they let us check in anyway.  The rooms are recently renovated and quite luxurious!  

Gambling
We had a wonderful time!  We arrived at Foxwoods about 3 pm.  I wanted to get there way ahead of time so I didn't have to deal with pre-concert traffic.  It worked!  We parked (it's free!) and strolled around to get our bearings.  Foxwoods is a megalopolis unto itself with hotels, restaurants, gambling areas and a Tangers Outlet full of stuff I don't need.  We spent about an hour playing the $1 slot machines.  As usual, I had a little luck and Neil had none.  Heh.  I ended up with $75 twice and was bright enough to cash out the second time I saw that number.  It looked amazing until I realized we had put in $80 between the two of us.  Ha ha.  Well, $5 for an hour's entertainment is pretty good! 

Dinner 
We wandered over to the David Burke Prime Steakhouse for our 4:45 pm reservation.  It is a casual, low-key spot, yet quite fancy in it's menu and architecture.  They have a 3-story glass wine cellar.  And an open kitchen and a steak-aging room.  They have special non-alcoholic drinks!  I had the most delicious desert pear lemonade!  Their menu made it tough to choose what to eat - so many amazing seafood and meat and salad options.  We decided on three courses - a salad, an appetizer and an entree.  I got a good start with the triple beet and goat cheese salad. It was tasty but I like the one at Posto better.  Hubby got the Caesar salad with anchovies, made table-side in a lovely little show of culinary expertise.  It was a perfect cool garlicky delight.  They brought us popovers and butter, a very special substitute for the usual rolls.  My second course was the clothesline bacon.  It came on a wooden frame with three thick slices of bacon actually clipped to a little clothesline!  They were grilled in a mouth-watering barbecue sauce.  So tasty and special!  

We both got an off the menu special for our mains.  I tasted the 12 oz bone-in filet with a shelled lobster, garlic spinach and potato hash.  The lobster was tasty but most of the steak was undercooked and the sides were unremarkable.  I was filling up by then so I stopped when the lobster and a few bites of steak were devoured.  This was the most expensive entree I've ever eaten.  Neil got the 55-day aged rib eye with peppercorn sauce and hand-cut fries.  He said the steak may be the best one he's ever eaten!  

They had a tempting list of desserts, but we were too full to even consider them.  I probably would've ordered the cheesecake pop medley if I had the room.  The server brought us a free stick of blue raspberry cotton candy!  Such a fun ending to a special meal.   We were done in plenty of time to saunter on down and across and over and on down to the grand theater and go through the metal detectors.  After the Manchester bombing, it felt good to see some attempt at security.  

Barry Manilow
We had excellent seats in the upper orchestra section on the far right.  The concert was scheduled for 7:30 pm but didn't start until 7:45 pm.  

Barry came dancing out and the place went wild!  He was back by three singers - a man, and two women - and a band with horns, electric guitar, electric and regular base, a grand piano and two electrics, drums... they filled the stage and the place with an amazing sound.  There were big screens so we could see Barry up close.  It felt quite intimate and he talked easily as if we were his best friends and we were catching up.  He joked about being "the Justin Beiber of the 70s" and when he introduced a song from his first album he said it was released "in 1821." 

Barry is 73 years old.  There are no signs of aging.  He sings and dances and chats with the audience.  He sang a duet with his 70's self and his voice is the same.  He did his "Last Tour" in 2015.  He explained that he never expected to live this long, and he meant it when he said he was done.  But then the election happened and people were so unhappy and he felt like people could use his music and energy, so he's back out doing his thing!  He performed for 90 minutes straight!  He can hold a note for longer than I can!  

The concert was fantastic!  That surprised me.  I didn't think I'd get into it.  I like him okay, figured he'd be pleasant.  Then he starts to sing and dance and I tap my feet and I know every word and they remind me of what was going on in my life, for better or worse, when those songs were first popular.  It's fun!  The crowd was almost completely people older than I am, but both men and women were dancing, singing, waving the glow sticks they left on every other seat and applauding like crazy!  

And then he sings "Even Now" and I am crying my eyes out over old love and realizing this man has lived it... felt it... is pouring his heart out and WOW!  

I didn't keep notes on the set list, but it was something like this one reported from another concert.  He has a new album just out - songs about NYC - his hometown.  He shared a couple.  He played the grand piano and the electric piano.  

• It's a Miracle

• Could It Be Magic

• Can't Smile Without You

• This Is My Town (from the new album)

• I Am Your Child (from the new album) 

• Even Now

• Looks Like We Made It

• Weekend in New England

• Let's Hang On!
(The Four Seasons cover)

• Somewhere Down the Line

• Mandy
(Scott English cover)

• Daybreak

• I Write the Songs
(Bruce Johnston cover)

Encores 

• Copacabana 

•  It's a Miracle
(reprise)

The night was made for me when Neil sang along and waved the glow stick and gripped my knee and smiled when Barry played the Chopin prelude that "Could It Be Magic" is based on.  Mission accomplished!  

Hanging out
I didn't want to get stuck in post-concert traffic so we wandered along the concourse and sat in the food court with an iced chai latte for a while.  The people watching there is fascinating.  We waited an hour, then made it back to the hotel with almost no one else on the road. 

Brunch
Sunday we decided no trip to CT is complete without a trip to Rein's Deli, so we crossed the state on lovely back roads and enjoyed a delicious brunch.  I had a trio of sides - potato pancakes, cherry cheese blintzes and bacon - washed down with a spicy virgin bloody mary and OJ!  We got take-out of a reuben, pickled herring in cream sauce, Doctor Brown's black cherry soda and a sour cream coffee cake for later! 

Heading home
I highly recommend driving on the middle day of long weekend!  There was traffic but it rolled along quite fast and we made it home easily in 90 minutes!  

What a special adventure!  

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