I CONCEDE that the great Manilow, more commonly seen in Las Vegas, is regarded as the cheesiest thing since mozzarella, but, boy, can he put on a show!
Singing to 20,000 people, the boy from Brooklyn delighted his fans and won over their partners, many of whom (like my husband) had been coerced into joining them.
This was only the second time I had seen Barry Manilow live, the first having been in the 1980s at Blenheim Palace on a hot summer day when I and two friends sprawled on rugs, drinking technicolour cocktails and wine through endless support acts, waiting for the great man to appear.
By the time he did come on, we weren't actually sure that he had, thanks to the alcohol, impending heat stroke, and the fact we were so far away he was only a little white dot on the horizon.
But no one could mistake that voice!
Even now (to coin one of his songs), BM's voice still makes me melt, particularly when I hear old favourites like Weekend In New England and Looks Like We Made It.
I just wish his very first hit, Mandy, didn't now evoke pictures of Peter Mandelson rising out of the swelling chorus - though the words 'You came and you gave without taking' quickly help to dispel the image of the Labour luvvie.
I prefer BM singing ballads - just him and a piano - but there were several upbeat numbers to satisfy the swingers (in the musical sense, obviously) in this razzle dazzle show, including Copacabana, this time without the frilly shirts, thank goodness.
Barry Manilow also introduced a surprise guest, tightly botoxed '60s star Lulu, for whom he played piano to her old hit To Sir with Love, evoking the times when he accompanied Bette Midler in downtown bars. If only Bette Midler had popped up too!
Another memorable moment was a performance of I Made It Through the Rain, sung in front of a giant picture of baby Barry and the grandad who encouraged him away from his poor beginnings and into music.
Also strangely moving was when a back-projected Manilow, from a concert in the 1970s, was accompanied by his present persona. My whole life swam before me - well the past 25 years anyway- as I pondered on how much has happened in that time - to me, my family and (if it's not too dramatic) the world.
Great show, great venue, perfect production; but I will always feel slightly cheated I wasn't there when it was just him, a piano and a few onlookers, rather than having to share him with 20,000 people, a small backing group and a big band.
Still, at least the traffic flow out of The O2 was swift and well-monitored, unlike the stop-start exit from Blenheim by coach which resulted in my female friends and me getting back to Hayes at about 2am and one of us being sick in her handbag on the way.