Jenice Armstrong, Daily News Columnist
Wednesday, June 10, 2015, 3:01 AM
MICHAEL Cavacini doesn't look how you'd expect a diehard "Fanilow" to look.
For starters, he's nowhere near middle-age.
He wasn't even born back in the 1970s, when Barry Manilow was in his soft-rock superstar heyday, singing hits such as "Mandy," "Can't Smile without You" and "I Write the Songs."
Still, Cavacini, 27, will be among the throngs of screaming Manilow lovers at the Wells Fargo Center Saturday night, clutching a framed photo of himself with the music luminary, which he hopes to get autographed.
When Manilow opens his One Last Time Tour, it will be Cavacini's sixth time seeing Manilow onstage.
Six times? What guy in his 20s goes to see Manilow six times?
"I don't think my girlfriend gets it," Cavacini said, laughing. "She says, 'Why do you like this kind of music?' I think he gets put into a bucket where he's just seen as this commercial artist, right? He's even kidded around by saying that he's the Justin Bieber of his time.
"He's just kind of a heartthrob," added Cavacini, who blogs at michaelcavacini.com. "It's funny that, like, women still swoon over him and scream and go crazy. He'll sing this one line from 'Weekend in New England' ['when can I touch you'] and these women flip out. When I saw him in L.A., when he sang 'when can I touch you,' the woman next to me screamed, 'right now!' . . . People are crazy."
Crazy about Manilow, now aged 71.
I mean, I liked him, too, way back in the 1970s, even though I didn't always admit it.
That wasn't exactly cool for a black girl growing up in Washington, D.C.
Manilow, who was born in Brooklyn and studied at the Juilliard School of Music, didn't always get the credit for it, but his music helped define the entire decade.
His melodies were expansive; his lyrics catchy. I still know the ones from "Can't Smile Without You." His song "Looks Like We Made It" was our high-school prom theme, which I loved. I also was a fan of the haunting lyrics in "Copacabana, (the hottest spot north of Havana)," about star-crossed lovers who lose each other after Tony is killed in a bar fight, leaving Lola to continue loving him through her memories.
Like the way some diehards love Manilow.
When Mary Flick, who lived in Gloucester, N.J., until recently, moved to Florida, the first thing she packed was all the Manilow memorabilia she'd been storing in her basement. It's now on display on shelves in her Sarasota condo.
Flick, who has Manilow music on her telephone's ringtone, has seen her favorite singer 300 times and counting. This article is from wwwphilly.comShe'll be here Saturday night as well, sitting front row, of course. She also plans to see him perform when he goes onstage in Newark the following day and in Brooklyn on June 17, which happens to be his birthday.
"I love him to pieces," she told me. "I love him so much. You can feel every note that he puts across to the crowd. I've seen him so many times and it never gets old. He's the greatest performer and the sweetest man."
She's not the least bit upset about his recent marriage to his long-time manager, Garry Kief.
"I love Barry. I just want Barry to be happy," she told me.
Smooth-jazz saxophonist Dave Koz, who'll be Manilow's opening act, also is a Fanilow.
"There's something about the way his voice and my sax blend together," Koz told me during a phone interview. "He puts a show on like no one else and has been doing it for 40 years."
"At the core of everything he does is this amazing musicality. That's where we connect," Koz continued. "He knows his stuff backwards and forwards. . . . He keeps up on modern music, new artists. It's very inspiring to be around him."
Why is it, then, that so many dismiss his music as schlock?
"His music is ubiquitous. If you were alive during the last many years and you were near a radio, you were going to hear Barry Manilow music," Koz pointed out. "There's a certain quality to his music that is very accessible and people can relate to it and sometimes that kind of music, some people might say, 'Oh it's not that good.' The truth is, it's still here. He's still here. He's packing in arenas.
"If you prove that you have staying power, which he has done time and time again, even if you weren't a fan you can't help but respect the guy because of what he's done. [He's] managed to remain relevant for four decades making music. It's unheard of. So, I have the most respect you can imagine for a guy like that."
Spoken like a true Fanilow.
On Twitter: @JeniceArmstrong