2019 Concerts

New York, New York

August 3, 2019

Madison Square Garden

Streisand walking on stage at Madison Square Garden

Photo by: Johnny Rudolph

Set List

ACT ONE

ACT TWO

Streisand in first act Azeeza dress

Photo by: Kevin Kane

Concert Summary

by Matt Howe

The Garden (as New Yorkers call Madison Square Garden) was buzzing with a tangible energy when I arrived.  There were many questions, which created excitement amongst the fans:  Would the show be similar to or different than her recent Hyde Park, London concert?  Would she sing with any guests? What would she wear? Was there any new merch?

The energy in The Garden was elevated when the celebrities started taking their seats. There was Rosie O’Donnell, Ben Platt, Whoopie Goldberg, Mary Steenburgen, Billy Crystal, Sally Field sitting next to Richard E. Grant (attending his second Streisand concert!), Brenda Vaccaro, Clive Davis, and Mariah Carey (who took her seat after the first song). 

Barbra’s “political pals” were there too: David Dinkins (the 106th Mayor of New York City); Al Sharpton; Congressman Jerry Nadler; and her friends Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton. When the Clintons entered the arena, the New York audience gave them a warm, standing ovation and applauded for several minutes.

After the orchestra played Barbra’s overture (which was the original 1967 Central Park overture), an announcer asked the audience to “please welcome back to The Garden … Barbra Streisand!”

Barbra was greeted with a standing ovation as she strode out wearing a flowing black Azeeza gown, (“it’s like a bathroom/coat. Sometimes I get cold and cover up,” she said later.)

Photo by: Kevin Kane

 

Barbra’s opening number was a funny and poignant version of “As If We Never Said Goodbye” with New York-specific lyrics tailored by Jay Landers.
 
I don’t know why I’m frightened
I know my way around here
The stage, the band, it’s all so grand
And you’re here
But I have to beg your pardon
Cause I’m back here in The Garden
And I need a moment.


(So talk amongst yourselves, I’m getting verklempt. If you don’t know what verklempt means, it’s fatootsed, ya know?)

Photo: Barbra Archives


Barbra said hello to the New York audience and even sang a playful phrase of “it’s so nice to be back home where I belong.”

“I played that part, didn’t I?” Streisand joked about her 1969 movie role as Dolly Levi. 

Then Streisand thanked Billy Joel for taking the night off “so you could all spend some time with me.”  (Joel began a one-show-per-month residency at The Garden in 2014.) 

Barbra sang two 1960s songs to begin her concert “Any Place I Hang My Hat is Home” and “Lover Man (Oh, Where Can You Be).”  During “Lover Man” Barbra interjected that “it’s hard to work in high heels.”

Between songs, Barbra asked, “You don’t mind if I take my shoes off, do you?” And she changed into gold flats. “They look like crappy shoes, but they’re actually Chanel. Eight hundred-dollar flip-flops,” she said as we laughed.

Photo by: Kevin Kane

Streisand before she took her shoes off

Barbra showed the audience some photos on the big screen behind her, remembering her early days in New York city.  On the talent contest she won at the Lion (a gay bar), Streisand remarked, “It turns out that my first fans were the gay community and I’m still very grateful for their support.”

She also shared some rare photos of herself rehearsing for the 1967 Central Park concert. When a photo of Streisand rehearsing in a green flowered dress came up, she joked “This [outfit] I have no excuse for. I don’t know who found this picture, but I’m gonna kill them.”

Photo: Barbra Archives

Streisand shows photo of Central Park rehearsal.

More laughs when Barbra showed us the sparkly pantsuit she wore for the Timeless concert and said, “Somebody stole this outfit from my dressing room. That was terrible. Never caught him.  Or her.”

A Star is Born was next.  After Barbra explained that the second version of that movie was made by Judy Garland, she sang a sublime version of “The Man That Got Away” sitting at the crook of the piano (after forgetting her mic stage center!).

Still in Star is Born mode, Barbra showed the guitar-playing scene, which was cut from the final film, and also sang the big song from her 1976 version, “Evergreen,” followed by a rousing version of “With One More Look at You.”

The audience sang along a bit during her “hits” medley, which included “Guilty,” “Stoney End,” (like in Hyde Park, with the original Laura Nyro lyrics), “Woman in Love,” and “Enough is Enough” (with backup singer Tim Davis providing the complimentary vocals that Donna Summer would have sung). “I’m glad you joined in!” she told the audience.

Photo by: Johnny Rudolph

Streisand singing Enough is Enough

Barbra spent a few minutes introducing her “political pals” next, and the audience applauded them all.

Introducing “Second Hand Rose,” Barbra explained that early in her career she shopped at thrift stores for her clothes.  She figured “rich people gave it away, so the clothes must be clean.”

“It was my hope that the finale of my musical film career was going to be a new version of one of the greatest musicals ever written, Gypsy,” Streisand said next. “I really wanted to play Mama Rose … I felt like I really knew who the woman was … I even made an 8-minute film to prove my version could work. Well, you can’t always get what you want. But I’m also not the kind of woman who gives up her dream!”

Then, Barbra began the “reprise” version of “Don’t Rain On My Parade” from the Broadway Funny Girl, hitting the spotlight on “At least I didn’t fake it!” and continuing with the driving version of the iconic song we all know and love.  The orchestra played her off the stage, and the hour-long first act was over.

Photo: Barbra Archives

Streisand sings while photos of Gypsy costume tests appear behind her

The second act began with the orchestra accompanying some rare footage of Barbra on the big screen (the same footage was shown in Hyde Park). Barbra surprised us when she appeared on stage wearing a beautiful off-white ensemble, designed by her friend Donna Karan. She sang a plaintive “The Way We Were.”

Team Barbra was counting the standing ovations she received from her home town audience.  After the second act opening song, the count was at nine. Audience members called out to her as she lifted her tea cup and made a toast: “May we all be as wonderful as our dogs think we are!”

“I sang it at your inauguration, Mr. President,” Barbra said to Mr. Clinton as she began a medley of “You’ve Got to be Taught / Children Will Listen.”

Photo by: Kevin Kane

Streisand wearing gorgeous Donna Karan gown

Next, Streisand mixed pathos with parody when she sang “Send in the Clowns” twice – first, the beautiful Stephen Sondheim song, and next with special lyrics aimed at Donald Trump, our troubling president.  “I also respect Republicans; they pay for the tickets just like you [Democrats].” Then, as she began her parody version of the song, she asked the Republicans to cover their ears. 

He says he’s rich, maybe he’s poor
Till he reveals his returns, who can be sure?
Who is this clown?

Something’s amiss; I don’t approve
Now that’s he’s running the free world where can we move?
Name me a town
Just who is this clown?

This is no farce, it’s not just smoke
Is this his art of the deal or some awful joke?
You’ve got to admit, this fraudulent twit
Is so full of ……

The audience laughed and applauded.  A few heckles were heard in the arena (“shut up and sing”).  That’s curious, because most of her fans know that Barbra is a lifelong Democrat and a very outspoken critic of Mr. Trump.  In fact, Barbra already sang a version of this parody in 2016 at a Clinton fundraiser, so the virtue signaling around this is baffling.

When the audience calmed down, Streisand fearlessly made her point one last time, describing Trump’s character with a quote from Oscar Wilde: “He’s a man who knows the price of everything, but the value of nothing.”

In this show, Barbra included the beautiful title ballad from her latest album Walls. She explained that walls “can protect us or they can divide us. And I guess it all depends on which side of the wall you’re on.”  Her performance of “Walls” was melancholic and powerful. This song was one of the standouts from the album, and Barbra sang it beautifully at The Garden.

Photo: Barbra Archives

Streisand sings a song from her Walls album

Climate change was on Barbra’s mind that evening, too. “Without a planet, we have no real home,” she said. She explained that scientists say there is hope and there are solutions, but that we, the people need to speak out, vote, and raise our voices. “Because, like always, it comes down to …. People, people who need people…” Barbra sang the breezy, jazzy “People” that she recorded for the Partners album, with the big concert ending as the finale.

“My Man” showed that Streisand was in powerful, belting mode that night.  Wow! It was a commanding performance, especially as she ended with “forever more …..”

“You know,” Barbra said to the audience (which was standing again), “it’s fun to sing for a wonderful audience. It’s inspiring. It just gives me a higher note!”

As the second hour of her show was ending, Barbra spoke about the power of music, introducing “this little song, that in its childlike way, is quite profound. I discovered it when my son Jason and I would watch Sesame Street together.”

I broke into tears hearing Barbra Joan Streisand sing the simple “Sing / Happy Days” – a medley I’ve listened to over and over again all these years which was on her 1972 Live Concert at the Forum album.  To hear her sing it this evening at The Garden was very moving to me.  She finished with the stalwart “Happy Days Are Here Again,” ad libbing at the end of the song, “yes, they’ll be here again!”

As a closing thought, Barbra wished we could all agree that “the antidote to lies is truth; the remedy to war is diplomacy; and the solution to hate is love.”

Photo: Kevin Kane

Streisand holding a tea cup in concert

“What the World Needs Now” was very special at Madison Square Garden as the fans pulled out their cell phones and turned on the flashlight app.  When I looked behind me, the entire arena was lit by beautiful, tiny lights – like lightning bugs – as we sang along, “what the world needs now is love sweet love.”  Barbra united us all at that moment.

A photo of the audience with their cell phones all lit up

Randy Waldman and Barbra conferred after her bows that she was going to sing “Alfie” as her encore … and she did, and it was beautiful.

Barbra’s hometown received her warmly and enthusiastically at The Garden.  There’s nothing like a New York audience!

 

Excerpts: Press Reviews

Barbra Streisand Eviscerates Trump With 'Send In the Clowns' Parody at MSG

by Joe Lynch, August 4, 2019, Billboard

“The show itself was a mixture of wistful recollections, wry asides and, naturally, iconic material from one of the greatest vocalists of all time. “My Man” from Funny Girl was spine tingling and powerful in its restraint; “Evergreen” and “With One More Look at You” from the 1976 version of A Star Is Born were gentle and affecting; and her voice displayed its robust tones and stylistic breadth during “The Man That Got Away” from Judy Garland’s 1954 version of A Star Is Born.”

[original review]

Barbra Streisand includes political parody during Madison Square Garden show

By Glenn Gamboa, August 5, 2019, Newsday

“.... Barbra Streisand walked an artistic tightrope at Madison Square Garden Saturday night for her first Manhattan show in 13 years ... The early part of the show was like a breezy dinner party, where the host just happened to be one of the greatest singers of the world delivering torch songs like “Lover Man (Oh, Where Can You Be?)” and “Evergreen” with stunning power and elegance, backed by a 15-piece band and musical conductor.”

[original review]

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