2019 Concerts

Chicago, Illinois

August 6, 2019

United Center

Streisand on stage in Chicago

Photo by: Kevin Mazur

Set List

ACT ONE

ACT TWO

Streisand sings in Donna Karan dress in Chicago

Photo by: Kevin Mazur

Concert Summary

by Matt Howe

This was my first time seeing Barbra Streisand in concert in the Windy City.  Her concert set list was similar to what she sang in New York three days earlier, so I won’t repeat the songs here – although there were a few surprises which I will detail.

Barbra’s opening number, like London and New York, was tailored for the Chicago audience (new lyrics by Jay Landers) and went like this:

I don’t know why I’m frightened
I know my way around here
The stage, the band, it’s all so grand
With you here
But I’m shaking as I enter
In this vast United Center
I may need a moment.

(So talk amongst yourselves, I’m feeling verklempt. I’ll give you a topic:  Deep dish or thin crust. Discuss!)

Chicago’s architecture, and all of your museums
Why, I could stay a month or more to see ‘em
Or a trip to Gibson’s Steak House
Take a doggie bag to my house
The many reasons why I just can’t say goodbye.

The way we were, the way we are
The time’s gone by so fast
I have stayed away too long
Now I’ve come back at last!

I have so many mem’ries
Of places I could see here
They bring me back to 1963 here
In my mind it was a lush treat
Taking taxi cabs to Rush Street
Down to Mister Kelly’s

We only have this one life
And I plan to embrace it
So watch me fly, no I’m not gonna waste it
Cause tonight right here in Chi-Town
Well, it feels just like my own town
Come on and take a ride with me on Lake Shore Drive
Yes, tonight it feels as if I’ve never said goodbye

Photo by: Kevin Mazur

Streisand sitting on piano with music director Randy Waldman 

In her opening remarks, Barbra joked that someone said her concert in Hyde Park, London looked like “Barbrapalooza.” (Chicago had just hosted a 4-day music festival called Lollapalooza, and the audience chuckled at this reference.)

After her first two songs, Barbra showed some rare photos and talked about her memories of Chicago.  First, she recalled how, in 1963, she studied Italian with a teacher during the day and performed in the evenings at Mister Kelly’s.  Next, she showed her dog Sadie as she performed at Soldier’s Field in 1966.  She also shared outtakes of the photos she took at Michigan Avenue Beach, one of which became the cover of her album People.

Barbra mentioned her autobiography a couple of times, joking “if it ever comes out,” which referenced the five years she has been writing it.

After Barbra sang a lovely rendition of “Evergreen,” a bold audience member yelled out to her from Section A on the floor. “I’ve got a great title for your book!” he said. “You should call it ‘Like Sand on the Beach.’”  Barbra didn’t miss a beat: “Write down your thoughts and give it to me later. If I use your title, you know you’ll get a $10 check!”

The biggest surprise came during Barbra’s “hits” medley.  After completing “Woman in Love” she told the audience, “There’s one song that I didn’t include in this medley … yet!”

Photo: Kevin Mazur

Ariana Grande joins Barbra Streisand at the United Center, Chicago

The opening strings of “No More Tears (Enough is Enough)” began and Streisand sang the first line (“It’s raining, it’s pouring…”) Then, walking onto the stage, Ariana Grande sang, “No sunshine, no moonlight, no stardust…” and she was welcomed by tumultuous applause.  Grande and Streisand dueted on the ballad introduction. “And we won’t waste another ….. tear” and the disco beat kicked in.  The audience stood on its feet and clapped and sang along as the two girl vocalists had a blast singing with each other.  As the song was wrapping up, Streisand said to the audience, “Ladies and gentlemen, I’m so glad to have one of the great new voices of our time – Ariana Grande.” Ariana Grande returned the compliment: “The greatest voice of all time, Barbra Streisand!”

Grande, her hair tied back in a long pony tail, said goodbye to the audience. “I’m going to pass out.  You’re just going to find ten pounds of hair.”

Photo by: Barbra Archives

Ariana Grande and Barbra Streisand take their bows

Streisand had hinted at the collaboration days before when she posted a photo of her manicured fingers alongside a “mystery hand,” also immaculately manicured. Posted on Instagram and Facebook, Barbra wrote: “Made a new friend.” 

Photo: Barbra Streisand

Photo of manicures

Why Ariana Grande?  Grande has said what a huge fan she was of Miss Streisand.  In fact, 12-year-old Grande can be spotted several times in the audience with her mother in the home video of Streisand: Live 2006, which was filmed in Florida.  For her birthday, Grande also posted a video on Social Media of she and her friend Doug Middlebrook lip-syncing to Barbra and Donna Summer’s original recording of “Enough is Enough.”  Barbra even re-posted the video and stated: “I love this video! Happy birthday little one.”  Grande was in Chicago headlining the Lollapalooza music festival and stayed over to share the stage with Streisand at her show.  Afterwards, Ariana Grande posted to Twitter that she was “shaking and crying.  thank u @BarbraStreisand. don’t have words yet …”

Below: Joan Grande and 12-year-old Ariana at Barbra Streisand's 2006 concert in Florida.

Ariana and her mother on camera at Barbra's 2006 concert.

Ariana’s mother, Joan Grande, even posted her thoughts about the iconic duet saying that “we have truly come full circle, from singing Barbra Streisand with Ariana in our house and in our car to last night’s performance. Seeing the woman I have loved my whole life performing with my daughter whom I have loved her whole life was truly magical … Thank you @barbrastreisand you are magnificent, you are the woman I had always imagined you would be and I am beyond proud that I had the opportunity to be in your circle for a few days.”

The day after the concert, Barbra posted on Instagram: “Having Ariana as my duet partner made my night –  she was so sweet and so much fun to sing with!” 

Social Media exploded with news of the duet – both Ariana Grande fans and Barbra Streisand fans embraced the collaboration with excitement.  One tangible result was that Barbra’s Instagram account reached one million followers after Tuesday night’s concert.

Ariana and Barbra at sound check. Photo by: Kevin Mazur

Ariana Grande and Barbra Streisand rehearse at the piano.

When Barbra was speaking about her desire to film Gypsy she said she really wanted to play Mama Rose. “By the way, Ariana could play my daughter, Louise,” she said.

For the second act, Streisand emerged wearing the beautiful off-white Donna Karan gown again – this time with white boots.  For completists, you should note that she wore black boots with the first act Azeeza gown – no high heels or Chanel slippers like in New York.  As she sipped tea from the rose patterned Roy Kirkham teapot and mug next to her chair, a fan asked what she was drinking.  Streisand replied “I don’t drink, I don’t like alcohol.  It’s just green tea, decaf, with honey.”

Streisand offered up a new introduction to “Children Will Listen” by mentioning the orphaned baby from the El Paso shooting, which happened days before.  The crowd cheered when she said assault weapons should be banned, that “they’re meant for war, not for Walmart.”

Streisand’s parody of “Send in the Clowns” once again made fun of Trump and most of the audience laughed – although a few people yelled out again.  “Shut the hell up,” Barbra said.  When she got to the last line, “this silly halfwit is so full of …” the audience shouted out the rhyming word for her this time. This prompted a standing ovation of support. Barbra hit her point home by reading a quote from Teddy Roosevelt that he made in 1918: “To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.”

After her last song, Streisand recognized one of her biggest fans. “This woman has followed me around the world.  Thank you, Robin!  Robin Lipman, thank you.” (Robin was verklempt, to say the least!)

Streisand thanked everyone by name on “Team Barbra,” including her musicians and backup singers.

The Chicago crowd turned on their cell phone lights (just like New York) and created a magic atmosphere for “What the World Needs Now.”  This was, again, an incredible sight!

For the Chicago encore, Barbra sang a note-perfect version of “What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?”  When she sang, “I have only one request of your life, that you spend it all with me …” the audience took it literally and cheered!

We experienced two magical hours at the United Center with Barbra Streisand.

Here's Barbra's Thank You's for the shows, which she recited to the audience in Chicago:

“A show like this doesn’t happen all by itself. It really does take a village… and I would like to thank everyone on Team Barbra including Renata Buser, Soonie Paik, Kendall Errair, Grace Handy, Nellie Beavers, and members of my Creative Team, Richard Jay-Alexander, Jay Landers, my Musical Director, Randy Waldman, lighting, Peter Morse, sound, Chris Carlton and his great team. I must thank Michael Weiss and Marty Hom and everyone backstage. Rich, Molly, Vickie, Jeff, Tommy, Kevin, Gio… and especially you, John Cox, I know you’re back there.  Our Wonderful Background Vocalists Tim, Andrea, & Stevvie, this wonderful band of musicians… and, of course, my long time manager, Marty Erlichman. THANK YOU!”

 

Excerpts: Press Reviews

Barbra Streisand’s show in Chicago has a slap at Trump, a duet with Ariana Grande and that once-in-a-lifetime voice

by Chris Jones, Aug. 7, 2019, Chicago Tribune

“Streisand is, of course, a singular phenomenon: her interpretations of the parts of her repertoire that really require acting — say Alan and Marilyn Bergman’s exquisite “What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?” — sound better than ever. There are no technical wobbles nor easy vocal ways out at a Streisand concert...Is there one secret behind this six-decade career. Who knows? Maybe part of it is her ability to embrace the lush swoop of melodramatic, diva-driven grandeur while simultaneously letting us know that she has always been the kind of outsider willing to to undercut the cheese with words like “pizza” or “verklempt.” Part of it is the way she transmits her own control of self. Part of it is an accident of birth.”

[original review]

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