Streisand: 2007 Europe Concert Tour
Manchester Evening News Arena
10 July 2007
- Funny Girl (Broadway) Overture - Bill Ross, Conductor
- Starting Here, Starting Now
- Down With Love
- The Way We Were
- Ma Premiere Chanson
- Evergreen (with Il Divo)
Broadway Singers set:
- Something's Coming
- You'll Never Walk Alone
- I Finally Found Someone (Barbra returned on stage in the middle of this song and sang the last part with them.)
- Come Rain or Come Shine
Funny Girl Suite:
- Funny Girl
- The Music That Makes Me Dance (partial)
- My Man
- Music of the Night (Barbra & The Broadway Singers)
- Papa, Can You Hear Me?
- Unusual Way
- What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?
- You Don't Bring Me Flowers
- Have I Stayed Too Long at the Fair?
- Cockeyed Optimist
- Somewhere (with The Broadway Singers)
- My Shining Hour
- Don't Rain on My Parade
BARBRA STREISAND hit MEN Arena to what was described by one fan as ‘almost insane adulation’. Some fans amongst the 14,000 were shaking in their seats, overcome by a singer who is clearly the first lady of American music. Streisand played the large crowd beautifully bringing in Manchester United, black pudding, Manchester tart, fish and chips and bizarrely Fletcher Moss Botanical Gardens and the fact that the city, was the world’s first industrial city.
The talk beforehand had been all about exorbitant ticket prices and whether a notoriously nervous diva would succumb to the stage fright that has plagued her in the past.
But last night in Manchester, it was instead extraordinary vocal ability and enduring star quality that entranced a capacity crowd as Barbra Streisand played her first British concert for 13 years.
There were certainly no sign of nerves as La Streisand made her entrance.
We should as La Streisand made her entrance.
Wearing a black ball gown and sparkling necklace she came on stage to the first of many standing ovations from the 14,000 fans who had paid between £75 and £550 to be there.
The Streisand camp has defended the high admission prices for this and the singer's three forthcoming London shows by describing her tour as "a momentous occasion that ranks up there with seeing Sinatra or Elvis".
Staged in the round and with a superb 58-piece orchestra, the show was divided into two acts separated by a 20-minute interval in true Broadway tradition.
The hiatus helped the 65-yearold New Yorker to conserve her energy for a barnstorming finale which featured the West Side Story standard Somewhere plus an encore of Smile and Don't Rain On My Parade.
Earlier, Miss Streisand had opened the show with the vocally demanding Starting Here Starting Now and sung other favourites should such as her sentimental 1973 weepie The Way We Were.
She was then joined by a young male vocal quartet, her 'Broadway singers' for the ballad Evergreen.
But the highlight of the first act was a suite of four songs from the 60s stage musical and film Funny Girl, the show which helped to make Streisand an international star.
At an age when most performers are well past their prime, her voice was in fine fettle, conveying easygoing intimacy on a jazz-tinged Down With Love and getting the audience on to their feet at the end of an emotional People.
Despite the odd moment when she strained to reach full power on the really big ballads, her tone was impeccable.
Consummate professional that she is, Miss Streisand had also done her homework on Manchester for her first appearance in the city.
Saluting it as "the world's first industrialised town" she complemented the regional cuisine, although her claims to have visited a local chippy and also eaten some farm black pudding that afternoon seemed somewhat dubious given that the city centre is now crammed with cappuccino bars and continental-style bistros.
Her attempts to impress with her knowledge of local sport also met with mixed results as her verbal tribute to Manchester United - "the world's most popular football club" - was greeted by cheers from some fans but good-natured boos from the many Manchester City and Liverpool fans in the hall.
It was for her singing rather that fans had come however and they weren't disappointed by a second half which opened with a wonderfully poised rendition of Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Music Of The Night, a song which she was again joined by her Broadway boys.
The over-riding impression was of a performer who has is now totally at ease on stage. For the fans, the extravagant ticket prices must have seemed worth every penny.
Miss Streisand plays the O2 Arena in London on July 18, 22 and 25.
I've been a fan of Barbra Streisand since I was 5 which was almost 30 years ago! I've been fortunate to see Barbra perform live twice before this Manchester concert - once in 1994 at Wembley's Arena and last year at Madison Square Gardens in New York. To compare each concert is impossible, she is simply Barbra. To this day her songs and voice still fill me with memories, inspiration and awe.
Last night was no exception!
At both previous concerts I can honestly say that I've never seen or heard such an excited crowd. Both before the concert in the outer bar area and during the concert. The crowd went wild! Everyone I overheard milling around was talking about her, what albums they love, which films they love and why they love them. The atmosphere was electric with anticipation.
Then, the back lights dimmed for a minute or so, followed by total lights out with just the orchestra and stage serenely lit by the most beautiful of colours. The crowd quite simply went haywire! After a short intro by the orchestra, the music built up to a climax of brass and full strings at full blast (which were only just audible as the crowd were clapping and cheering so loudly!) — then there was Barbra— standing centre stage under a brilliant white light. As ever, she looked stunning. The crowd weren't going to give up their welcoming applause as it went on for a good 2 minutes. The large screens, which usually don't kick in with close-ups of Barbra until a couple of songs into the concert, appeared almost immediately. Her face was a picture — she was visibly taken aback by the sheer volume of the crowd and the welcome we all gave her.
As the crowd grew quieter, the music began with "Starting Here, Starting Now".
I was actually a little bit nervous for Barbra as she had cancelled the Stockholm concert the previous week due to a sore throat so I was just praying that her voice was up to it. Within the first 2 phrases of the opening song, I was relieved to hear that it was as pure, rich and full as ever.
Throughout the first half of the concert, I knew that Barbra had been holding back to pace her vocal stamina inparticularly, her higher ranged notes were done with caution and refrain. But by the time we had reached the song People, in kicked that famous Streisand power and she ended the first half with every single person in the hall on their feet.
After a (very) brief intermission, her Broadway guys were singing "I Finally Found Someone" which she originally recorded with Bryan Adams. Around the middle part of the song, Barbra appeared from the stairs at the back of the stage to join them and finish the song together. I personally thought she sounded even better than the CD recording does.
The concert continued as Barbra was pushing her voice more and more, knowing that she had more to spare, then we arrived at the song "Somewhere". Usually my favourite song of hers done live, and it was this time too apart from a couple of mistakes and missed entries by Barbra, but, even us fans have to remember that she's only human and is still recovering from being poorly last week.
As with the other concerts on her European Tour, Manchester kept Barbra coming back to the stage to sing to us one last time, finally ending with the song "Smile" (the 3rd encore). Everybody was on their feet, my hands were hurting from clapping so much, and Barbra was genuinely touched by us all saying that she will never forget us or Manchester for being such an amazing audience.
So, here's to giving the little lady a great big hand.... One word to sum up Barbra Streisand?..... Incredible.
Thank you again Barbra — you are my inspiration.
David Valentine, Manchester, UK
The concert was amazing. I have never experienced a more chilled performer in such an unintimate environment. The MEN Arena is not an ideal venue for such a legend, but the chance to see her anywhere in the UK is a bonus I suppose. I hope the folk at the O2 arena have better acoustics.
I won't give a song by song account as the format was pretty much the same as last couple of concerts. Barbra was so relaxed, and obviously still suffering slightly from her throat problems, but that voice still has it. Goosebumps a plenty. I also would like to add that our 150 pound seats had a much better view than some of the top money tickets. You end up so far back on the flat that you are straining over heads, whereas at the side and raised was heaven. You looked down and got the whole stage. Very clever how they had an exit at each of the four sides, and also the trapdoor in the middle.
Ultimate highlight, and I think from the audience recation, probably the same from most, was the penultimate encore of the Broadway version of Don't Rain on My Parade. A barefoot Barbra transported herself back to 1960's New York and became that young innocent Fanny dancing across the stage like she owned it. The audience went wild. A memory I will cherish for a long long time.
Jeff F., Glasgow
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