A Happening in Hyde Park (2019)

Hyde Park, London

July 7, 2019

Great Oak Stage

Streisand singing at Hyde Park

Set List

 

Concert Summary

by Matt Howe

“Riffling through newspaper cuttings and behind the scenes photographs on her display, it felt like an evening of scrapbooking on Aunty Barbra’s living room floor.”

Ifan Llewelyn, QXMagazine.com

 

Barclaycard presents British Summer Time Hyde Park is a 10-day concert event attended by hundreds of thousands of people each year.

On July 7th, concert-goers were admitted into the park at 2:00 p.m. and experienced a day of performances before Barbra Streisand came on at 8:20 p.m.

Barbra’s Star is Born costar Kris Kristofferson headlined on the Great Oak Stage at 4:45 p.m.; Richard Marx, the musician and songwriter (he wrote the Streisand duet “If You Ever Leave Me”) performed on the smaller Barclaycard Stage at 5:45 p.m.; and smooth crooner Bryan Ferry (“You Can Dance,” “Let’s Stick Together”) got the audience dancing as his band entertained on the Great Oak Stage at 6:30 p.m.

It should be noted that the entire Hyde Park concert experience was standing-only. There were no ticketed seats anywhere in the park (except for a VIP section). Food and beverage outlets bordered the concert area.

Photo of Great Oak Stage with woodsy background

The Great Oak Stage was really something to behold upon entering the venue as it was literally flanked by two humongous trees with their branches intertwined. A huge, wrap-around LED screen camouflaged the stage when a serene forest background was projected on it. Streisand even remarked during her show, “This stage looks like something from Into the Woods.”

Fans were monitoring the weather all week – would London turn sunny, after weeks of cloudy days?  Would it rain on Barbra’s parade? (Check out YouTube videos of Michael Bublé performing in Hyde Park during a downpour last summer.  Wet, indeed!)

Well, the day of the concert, we were rewarded with beautiful, temperate weather (although there were some angry, dark clouds to the east.)

Once Bryan Ferry’s band cleared the stage, the crew worked fast to set up Streisand’s musicians.  Before we knew it, 8:00 p.m. had arrived.  The audience was game, ready and excited for the show.  Barbra’s orchestra began taking their places on stage, some of them pausing to film the audience with their phones (we waved at them ecstatically) for posting on their Social Media accounts later.

Barbra Streisand's Hyde Park stage is set

A big wave of applause went through the crowd as a stagehand was spotted placing Barbra’s teapot on the stage – a sure sign that Barbra was coming … soon!

The concert began at 8:20 p.m. with a new overture that featured musical quotes from familiar Streisand songs. Playing behind Barbra was what looked like a 12-piece orchestra, supported by three backup singers – Stevvi Alexander, Andrea Jones, and Vocal Arranger Tim Davis.

Barbra's backup singers

After “Happy Days Are Here Again” alerted us that Barbra’s entrance was imminent, an announcer said, “Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome … Barbra Streisand!”

Streisand strode out on stage wearing a flowing Zandra Rhodes-designed boho-chic gown, and everyone immediately responded to the splash of color, echoed by the giant LED screens behind her.

Instagram’s @streisandstylefiles elaborated that Streisand’s look “was a wonderful nod to one of London’s most celebrated fashion icons. Zandra Rhodes is a British designer famous for her use of bold and unique patterns …. This fuchsia and blue flowing kaftan is silk chiffon. It features a floral rose screen print, oval shoulder cutouts trimmed with round blue beads and finger attachments. Beading also surrounds the V-neck. The hems are hand rolled.” 

Streisand’s co-director Richard Jay-Alexander added, “Part of this ensemble is a flare pants with pleats with contrasting fabric that haven’t really shone through yet in any of the photos I’ve seen…”

Richard confirmed “Barbra worked very closely with Zandra on the idea and look of this.”

Streisand wearing Zandra Rhodes boho dress.

Barbra’s opening number was another bespoke lyric to the tune of “As If I Never Said Goodbye” from Lloyd Webber’s Sunset Boulevard. These were written by Jay Landers, after brainstorming with Barbra about London.

I don’t know why I’m frightened
I know my way around here
It’s not quite dark
In old Hyde Park
But you’re here
When the stars begin to sparkle
Like that ring on Meghan Markle
I may need a moment

(So talk amongst yourselves, 
I’m getting verklempt)

I so adore this city
Just wish I had more time here
All day I dream of clotted cream
When I’m here

On a quiet lane that’s shady
Like a scene from “My Fair Lady”
Oh everything’s as if I never said goodbye

The way we were 
the way we are
The time’s gone by so fast
I have been away too long
But I’ve come back at last

I love your British accents
They always sound so clever
The West End lights
The music of Lloyd Webber

When I hear those royal trumpets
Then it’s time for tea and crumpets
And I’m getting hungry

(Oy! Could I go for a Cornish pasty now)

I love all your traditions
The changing of the guard here
The London sky 
The London Eye
The charm here

I can feel my heartbeat racin’
Walking through Fortnum & Mason
And I can almost smell the scent of Shepherd’s pie

Yes! Tonight it feels as if I’ve never said goodbye …

Thank you, Mark Bliss, for your help on the lyrics! View of Streisand in front of 65,000 people in Hyde Park, London

The London lyrics played extremely well with the British audience, who ate it all up like clotted cream on a scone! You could even hear many of them sing the last note with Barbra: “... Goodbye!”

Barbra greeted a sea of people, reported to be 70,000 audience members. “This place is so huge!” she exclaimed.

London celebrated Gay Pride the day before the concert and Barbra mentioned, “My driver asked me if I went to the Pride parade yesterday. And I said, Why? I knew I would see everyone here tonight!”

Streisand added that she believes in everyone’s right to love whoever they choose, before she announced that the Social Media hashtag for this concert was #AHappeningInHydePark.

Then, Barbra sang a 1960s standard from her past, “Any Place I Hang My Hat is Home,” hitting some amazing 2019 notes.  For me, the Streisand voice still thrills, and she was sounding good in Hyde Park.

Sipping from her tea cup, Streisand settled on a stool and shared some of her memories of London as photos appeared on the gigantic screens behind her. Those memories included meeting Princess Margaret after a Funny Girl show; meeting the Queen at Funny Lady’s opening; interacting with Princess Diana at the premiere of The Prince of Tides; shaking hands with Prince Charles; attending a party with Anthony Newley for her 24th birthday; filming On A Clear Day  at the Royal Pavilion at Brighton; and filming Yentl in England (Barbra introduced Peter McDonald, the camera operator for that film, who was in the audience that night).

With that, Barbra recalled attending the premiere of Alfie and meeting its leading man, Michael Caine … and she sang the theme song.

Barbra touched on A Star is Born next.  Even though there were some technical issues with the sound syncing during a film clip from the movie, Barbra hummed her intro to “Evergreen” and sang a beautiful version, encouraging the audience to sing along. “This is a happening!” she exclaimed as thousands of fans sang with her. Following photos of Kris Kristofferson barefoot on stage at the Troubadour and another clip from A Star is Born (“I hope it’s in sync, guys,” she said), Streisand brought her costar out on the Great Oak Stage in Hyde Park. A duet of “Lost Inside of You” followed. The audience seemed very pleased to see John Norman Howard and Esther Hoffman reunited.

Kris Kristofferson joins Streisand on stage in London.

The audience sang along some more when Barbra did a medley of her big hits, “Guilty,” “Stoney End,” “Woman in Love,” and “Enough is Enough.”  For “Stoney End,” Barbra announced that she was singing Laura Nyro’s alternate lyrics, which differed a bit from the ones we all know. “I was born from love, and I was raised on Golden Rules,” Barbra sang. “Till the love of a winsome Johnny taught me love was made for fools…”

A quick note about the ambience and sing-alongs: This was a very unique concert experience with this audience.  Believe it or not, it was entirely possible to sip some rosé wine or a tall beer, chat with your neighbors, sing along with Barbra, and enjoy it all. The audience was there for a communal experience, but Barbra was always the center of our attention.  And it’s fun to sing with her!  (And she loved it).

Next, Barbra joked that she’d give us a topic: “Ralph Fiennes is spelled neither ‘Rafe’ nor ‘Fines,’ discuss amongst yourselves.” (Fiennes was in the audience and Tweeted later: “I can’t even go into all the feelings I had tonight … in the VIP box with a bunch of crazy-assed legends…”)

Following the lovely medley of “Carefully Taught” and “Children Will Listen,” Streisand flirted with the people close to the stage in the Diamond Circle. After explaining her love of vintage clothes, the orchestra cued up “Second Hand Rose” accompanied by the audience again. “And now you’ve sung with me several songs, and I’m very, very impressed,” Barbra told us.

The very handsome Ramin Karimloo joined Streisand on stage for some small talk before he sang a beautiful “Till I Hear You Sing” from the Phantom of the Opera musical sequel, Love Never Dies.

The orchestra played what most would recognize as Streisand’s Entr'act from previous concerts, while some rare home movie clips and photographs flashed across the stage screens.  Streisand made her second entrance, now wearing a sexy, ruffled, glossy black dress by the designer Azeeza.  She revealed her sexy legs in the dress, and flashed a sparkly bra strap, too.  Karimloo and Streisand sang “Music of the Night” together.

Ramin Karimloo and Streisand sing together.

The gorgeous red curtain background set the mood for Barbra’s touching rendition of “Send in the Clowns.”  The audience let out a collective sigh as the opening notes were played, and some even sang along. (This was the short version of “Clowns,” minus the lyrics Sondheim added for The Broadway Album.)

Barbra told Hyde Park “This was my surprise!” when she introduced Lionel Richie next – He had played the Park the night before. “So this is what your living room looks like?” Richie kidded.  “It’s pretty amazing that you have this crowd, and you sit down and have tea.” “What do you have?” Barbra joked back. They joined voices in an up-tempo version of “The Way We Were” which they recorded together for Barbra’s Partners album.  Later, Richie posted on his Instagram account: “Performing with @barbrastreisand has been on my bucket list for years... “The Way We Were” @bsthydepark was magical...  Barbra, what an honor to share the stage with you tonight...”

Barbra cast her spell over the audience with a serene “Silent Night,” reminding many fans of when she sang it in Central Park back in 1967.  And “People” was sung with an arrangement that sounded a lot like the one used on Partners, too – except with the big, Broadway ending.

Under the stars for Silent Night.

Keeping with the Funny Girl theme, Barbra then brought the house down, strong-voiced, with “My Man.” She was rewarded with long applause, to which she said, “See? I can’t tell if you’re giving me a standing ovation because you’re all standing.”

Streisand finished off the Funny Girl trilogy of songs with “Don’t Rain On My Parade,” presented this time with an introduction about her passion to play Mama Rose in a film version of Gypsy.  “This one is still in the stratosphere,” she teased, then began the plaintive, “Reprise” version of “Parade,” which soon moved into the driving show tune we all know and love.  At the song’s climax, images of Streisand costumed as Mama Rose were shown on the big screen.  Amazing! Streisand should have, could have, and hopefully will play this role!  With a brown, blunt haircut and pearls, furs and hats, Streisand’s Rose looked authentic.

For those who may not understand, when Streisand was preparing Gypsy for the cameras, she posed in makeup and costume as Rose – probably for the studio which was financing the film. 

After “Parade,” the audience went crazy again, and Streisand sheepishly admitted, “I’m really sorry we didn’t get a chance to rehearse that last number. I kinda botched it up. I caught up at the end, so, it’s okay.”

I was in tears as the audience sang along with Barbra’s a cappella introduction of “What the World Needs Now.”  This was a special moment, 70,000 people singing with Barbra about love, sweet love.  Barbra sang the song in glorious voice!

As the orchestra played “People” and Streisand took her bows, her longtime assistant, Renata, wheeled out Barbra’s dogs Scarlet, Violet, and Fanny.  Barbra kissed her Coton de Tuléars and waved goodbye to them.

Because Antonio Banderas was in the audience and had starred in Nine on Broadway, Barbra dedicated her first encore song to him – an exquisite “Unusual Way.”

Antonio Banderas appreciated the song from NINE.

10:00 p.m. was approaching and Barbra conferred with conductor Randy Waldman about the next encore song.  Then – sounding just as good as her 1994 rendition – Barbra brought down the house with “The Man That Got Away.”

As the audience shuffled out of the park toward the Tube, a video of “I Finally Found Someone” was played on the giant screens, with rare video footage of Barbra and Jeff Bridges practicing their dance moves.

I will never forget this very special concert in Hyde Park. Barbra continues to inspire and amaze me, and I love the show that Barbra and her team put together for this amazing Happening!

# # # #

PLUS: Even though there were thousands of fans there, I always think it's fun to list the celebrities who came out to see Barbra, too. Here's who I can confirm were there:

Ralph Fiennes, Daisy Ridley, Antonio Banderas, Kate Moss, Rebel Wilson, Victoria and David Beckham, Tilda Swinton, Helen Mirren and husband Taylor Hackford, Richard E. Grant, Malan Breton (designer) and Tony recipient Baayork Lee, Elizabeth McGovern, Donna Karan, Valentino, Shirley Bassey.

 

Below: Barbra's March 2019 video announcing the concert ...

Excerpts: Press Reviews

Barbra Streisand review — pure pizzazz from the first lady of showbusiness

by Will Hodgkinson, July 9, 2019, The Times

... At 77, Streisand remains a performer like no other. Her voice is a thing of wonder, soaring up to the high notes and warbling with that vibrato so redolent of the Broadway musical world in which she made her name. She is an old-fashioned cabaret singer rather than a pop star, performing with an orchestra for a lush, crystal-clear sound. And she doesn’t take herself too seriously. “I can’t tell whether you’re giving me a standing ovation,” Streisand said after My Man from Funny Girl, in the tone of one used to receiving such a thing, “because you’re all standing.”

[original review]

Barbra Streisand BST Hyde Park review: Tea and timeless magic from a living legend

The Funny Girl invited London into her parlour for an evening of banter, memories, extraordinary songs and a superstar surprise guest. A new, looser Barbra even laughed at a couple of fluffs...

By STEFAN KYRIAZIS, July 8, 2019, Express.co.uk

West End Phantom star Ramin Karimloo appears and belts out a number while Barbra nips off for a costume change, returning in silky black number which shows off those enviable pins. After some flirty banter, they duet on a gorgeous Music of the Night. Alone again, she delivers an aching, spellbingingly delicate Send In The Clowns. The crowd sings along so quietly it's almost reverential but we're soon cheering ourselves hoarse for surprise guest star Lionel Richie who comes out for a rousing Memories from The Way We Were.

This is followed by a gorgeous gossamer-light Silent Night that flips into an utterly barnstorming My Man from Funny Girl. Those lungs still pack a hell of a punch and every song is still sung with utmost emotional intelligence and empathy. It is magic, pure and simple.

... what is refreshing is the notorious perfectionist's willingness these days to immediately confess to her mistake and laugh about it. The same happened when the earlier Star Is Born clips were out of sync. This is a new looser and lighter Barbra. Afer worshipping that wondrous perfection and power for decades, the fans are now able to engage with the women. The voice has gained richness over time, and so much of the range and power on the big notes remain. Only sometimes do the softer notes waver, but that is life, to be embraced rather than mourned.

There is also still the joy of hearing Barbra tackle songs outside the usual repertoire. An utterly spellbuilding A Very Unusual Way from Nine had the entire crowd hold its breath. You could hear a pin drop.

[original review]

 

‘Magical evening with one of the defining voices of the modern era’

Bringing humour, showbiz razzamatazz and undimmed vocal talent, the singer's first UK appearance for six years was a huge success

By John Clarke, July 8, 2019, inews.co.uk

In this world, it seems, there are voices – and then there is Barbra Streisand’s. Others may carry a tune, caress a melody and dramatise the lyrics, but no one can actually possess a song the way Streisand does. Even at 77 and making her first UK appearance in six years, she is still able to dominate a stage with her vocal qualities alone.

True, the voice may not be as powerful as it used to be, but the potency, the ability to turn someone’s lyrics into something approaching high art, remains. And of course with Streisand it’s never just the voice, it’s the whole package – the style, the humour and the showbiz razzamatazz that attracts a hugely devoted following.

... A new side of Streisand also appeared, an ecological one. On global warming, she refrained from naming names but said the “only way to combat lies was to tell the truth” before seguing into Bacharach and David’s “What the World Needs Now is Love”.

The evening ended as it should with Streisand the supreme song stylist giving out the definitive versions of “People”, “My Man”, “Don’t Rain on My Parade” and finally, a song from “my friend Judy Garland”, “The Man That Got Away”. Strip away all the sparkle and the showbiz, and you were still left with one of the defining voices of the modern era and a magical purveyor of the popular song.

[original review]

Barbra Streisand at BST Hyde Park

Brigit Grant dispenses with her hardback chair and finds herself enthralled with the American-Jewish icon

By Brigit Grant, July 11, 2019, Jewish News

Time has not tainted the voice that touches your soul and at the age of 77 her rendition of Jules Styne’s People makes you cry. It was the same with Send In The Clowns, Sondheim’s Children Will Listen and Evergreen From A Star is Born.

... Everything Barbra said and sang at Hyde Park illustrated why there will never be anyone like her, a fact stated by Broadway star Ramin Karimloo who dueted with her for Phantom’s Music of The Night. As a final gift to the audience she brought out her “babies” – three Coton de Tulear dogs Miss Scarlett, Miss Violet and Miss Fanny(Brice). Barbra Streisand is still that ‘Funny Girl’ with a vocal range and power that belies her years. No one thought about hard back chairs on Sunday as standing is what you do in the presence of greatness.

[original review]

 

Barbra Streisand review, BST Hyde Park: up close and personal with an all-time superstar (and 65,000 fans)

by Neil McCormick, July 8, 2019, The Telegraph


Barbra Streisand performed for 65,000 people in Hyde Park as if she was entertaining a few close friends in her front room. She sat at a table, poured tea from a white china pot, chatted about her life, showed family slides and occasionally – almost as if it were an afterthought – burst into song with her orchestral band.

[original review - pay wall]

 

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