Reviews of “Timeless” (Melbourne, Australia)

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March 15, 2000 Review

Melbourne VIP ticket for 15 March 2000

(Above: Gold ticket to 15 March show courtesy of Anthony Lucca)

Barbra Streisand's Timeless arrived at Melbourne's brand-new Colonial Stadium on March 15, the third Australian performance and fifth overall, since debuting the show in Las Vegas on December 31. Fans were delighted to see and hear Barbra's wonderful production, but the sound quality in the enclosed stadium left much to be desired. One newspaper reviewer still glowed—"From ballads to quick medleys, she handled every vocal assignment with ease. ...It's a voice that does not disappoint when heard live, sounding clear and powerful and ensuring every song that the 57-year-old performs rings with passion." Before "The Way We Were" and before noticing the serious echo in the stadium, she greeted the audience warmly ("G'day, Melbourne, it's great to finally be here. How's it goin'?") and complimented the facility, noting its professional soccer affiliation—"the new home of the AFL, formerly known as the VFL." Despite virtual guarantees from spokesmen prior to this evening, the persistent sound echoing throughout the huge space was most noticeable in the cheapest seats but was also evident down front by some in the VIP section. Just after beginning her monologue before "Papa, Can You Hear Me?" Barbra finally addressed it. "There's an echo here, do you hear it?" Some shouted "Yes!" and she replied, "You do hear it? I thought I only heard it. Well, this is a brand-new stadium. Do you really hear an echo?" Barbra asked again, appearing slightly annoyed with the situation. Another roar of "Yeah!" to which Barbra replied, "Is that good or bad? Either there are two of me, or it's very disturbing." One fan told The BSMG that Barbra appeared uncomfortable and upset with the sub par sound quality, perhaps detracting from her stellar talents on display. Still, she praised the audience and the evening just before intermission —"You can hear back there? This is such a nice stadium; it's so close. Doesn't feel like there's 30,000 people here, does it? It feels like you're in my living room."

For Act 2, undoubtedly after Barbra's insistence, sound engineers readjusted the direction of the sound in the stadium, greatly reducing the nagging echo, and Barbra asked the audience, "My echo is better, isn't it? See what a knob will do." Her performance seemed freer and more comfortable in the show's second half. She and Randee Heller (Mother) nagged at each other with more fun, Heller pushing Barbra to eat a chili wrap and a sandwich, in addition to the now obligatory Australian meat pie. "Marvin, you want a meat pie? asked Heller before finally disappearing. Also, during the duets segment, Barbra added that she and Neil Diamond went to the same high school, as their 1980 Grammy Awards performance was screened. "The Main Event / Fight" was a big hit as usual, after which Barbra asked whether everyone had received the Duracell light wands, because one audience section hadn't used them during the number. Again, Barbra impressed the audience with her Australian dialect and expressions. Sprinkled throughout her banter were local expressions, like "fair dinkum," "no worries," "ridgy didge" ("I was in the bush the other day and heard that expression"), and of course "ma-ate." The Melbourne audience was reportedly more enthusiastic and demonstrative from start to finish than the Sydney audiences.

The song line-up was identical to the March 10 Sydney show, with the exception of "A Sleepin' Bee," which was dropped. Again, the final encore was "Come Rain Or Come Shine," which was a major crowd-pleaser. Barbra introduced a new costume for Act 1, a matching glittering silver sleeveless top, long slit skirt and wrap, which may have debuted at the Golden Globe Awards in January or bears a strong resemblance. She returned to her white gown for Act 2. Joining her on stage for "At The Same Time" and below the stage for other Act 2 numbers were the Melbourne Chorale and Children's Concert Choir, totaling 87 voices, with 75 from the Chorale. No official photographs were taken in Melbourne. Promoter Kevin Jacobsen said the sound and seating problems would not be an issue for the March 17 performance. Reportedly, both nights saw around 31,000 in the audience.

Credits: This review was written by Mark Iskowitz and Barbra Streisand Music Guide reporters. It was written May 13, 2000.

Newspaper clipping below courtesy of Anthony Lucca, from his collection.

Melbourne review

March 17, 2000 Review

Melbourne ticket to Streisand concert

(Right: VIP concert ticket to 17 March Streisand show courtesy of Anthony Lucca)

Barbra Streisand's closing night in Melbourne, the final performance of her Australian Timeless tour, was a terrific one. Barbra was outstanding, just as remarkable as the first night in Melbourne. The much-discussed stadium echoes were non-existent for this second show. Her Act 1 costume changed from the previous Melbourne performance, matching pants substituting for the skirt. Act 2 saw Barbra wearing the familiar white gown. Every number was performed with enthusiasm and marvelous musicianship, particularly by the consummate songstress herself.

She was as warm as ever, as was the audience—literally. "It's wonderful to finally be down under, as you say," Barbra said in her formal greeting following her exciting "Something's Coming" performance. "What about this fantastic stadium? It even has a roof that shuts when it rains (I coulda used that the other night in Sydney)," she jested. "It's hot tonight though, huh? Wooh!" to which a male audience member exclaimed, "You're hot, Barbra!" As always, she received the compliment humbly and appreciatively - "Oh, thank you, thank you." Later in the show, remarking on the closed stadium heat, Barbra wondered, "Maybe we should open up the roof. No? It might rain," thinking better of the idea. Another reference to the warm conditions followed "The Main Event/Fight," the number which, as usual, got everyone on their feet dancing. Barbra noticed someone sipping water and sympathized, "Oh, it's so hot out there for you, isn't it? One night it was all rain, everybody was sitting with the plastic raincoats. Tonight they're sweating, what can we do? Life."

Introducing "The Way We Were," Barbra admitted that visiting and performing in Australia for the first time was many years in the making. "You know, this is true—I was about to come here 25 years ago for the opening of Star Is Born, and I got an ear infection, and I couldn't fly. I always felt bad about that, so now the only place I wanted to sing outside of the United States was your country and that's why I'm here [implying that BJS doesn't plan to bring Timeless to Europe this year]. And that's fair dinkum. So we have a lot of catching up to do. There's a lot of Memories..."

Before her comic dialogue with Ziegfeld preceding the Funny Girl medley, Barbra related her experiences with the Aussie pronunciation of her name. "When I first landed in Australia, someone called me 'Miss Strei-sund.' I told them my name was 'Strei-sand' and they said, 'No worries.' Later at the hotel, someone called me 'Bah-bra Strei-zand' with a Z. I tried to tell them, 'It's Strei-sand with an S, like sand on the beach.' They said, 'No worries.' But, now I gotta tell you, I am worried," joked Barbra to the crowd laughing along with her, "because you pronounce Aussie with a zed, though it's spelled with Ss, right? So, of course, you're gonna get my name wrong, but that's okay. No worries, I tell you. I don't mean to sound like a whinger, but it's so rare that anyone gets my name right, ya know?" An interesting localized revision of Barbra's Las Vegas monologue.

They may not always voice her name correctly down under, but Barbra's Australian fans clearly adore her. In Act 1 before "Something Wonderful" when a guy yelled "We love you, Barbra!" she took a moment to respond spontaneously, "I feel it. I feel it too, because I was watching. Yesterday, I went for a ride in the country and went to see the ocean," she recalled. "I was playing this documentary of people coming out of the arena last week, and I just was so thrilled to hear the love that I got from these people that were coming out. It warmed my heart, it really did. So know that I see you, know you, hear you, and appreciate you." These words especially impressed and touched the Melbourne audience.

Speaking of seeing each other, another audience member stopped Barbra's show midway through her "Clickers" monologue. "When I was growing up, there were just a few channels. Now there's cable, satellite, 24-hour news shows," Barbra was saying. "How did information get around in the old days. ...It was word of mouth," she explained. Then, suddenly addressing a man sitting in front of her, she said, "Now, I'm fascinating to know what you're doing. You're looking through binoculars, so you're up my nostrils, right?" causing everyone to start laughing. "I mean you're in the front row, and you have binoculars. This is amazing to me." Everyone continued laughing, and Barbra was nearly speechless—"But what can I say. Oh, well. Every pore, you're gonna see every pore," to which a woman and the binoculars-holder responded, "You're gorgeous!" Of course, Barbra had to be appreciative and humbled—"Thank you, thank you. So what was I saying?"

Among the 31,000 in the audience, Barbra had some special guests, including husband James Brolin and close friend, the fashion designer Donna Karan. Introducing "I've Dreamed Of You," Barbra remarked, "This is a song that I had written for my wedding day. ...And my friend Donna Karan, who's here tonight, made me this beautiful gown (pointing to photo on screen), and this was my wedding veil fabric (waving her costume's sequin-covered overlay)." Before the song "At The Same Time," Barbra turned to Brolin —"My husband has seen every show. What a sweetie pie." Such brief personal tributes and asides are not unusual during Streisand concerts.

With the show nearing an end, Barbra observed, "The more you travel, the more you realize how much we have in common. I may prefer a little cream cheese on a bagel to your Vegemite sandwich, but we all wash it down with a good cup of tea. This next song is a particular favorite of mine. Its lyrics never seem out of date. They're as true today as the first time I sang them many, many years ago. And even though continents and oceans may divide us, at the end of the day, we're just...People..." This signature song needs little or no introduction, and certainly realizing this, throughout the years, Barbra has cleverly customized or expanded the meaning of the Styne-Merrill number to fit each performing occasion.

Knowing she was about to surprise the audience with one of its all-time favorites, Barbra appeared genuinely contented with the evening and in a jovial mood, as she returned for her first encore. "Oh my God! Thank you! Thank you. You're so nice, you're so kind. Thank you so much (and so hot)," which got everyone laughing once again. "I just had a thought—the drapes," announced Barbra. "I finally figured out what to do with the drapes after we close. We'll send them up to the Olympic Stadium to block out the draft on the running track," drawing more laughter. "Isn't that cool?" Then, she got serious—"In ancient Greece during the first Olympics, countries that were in conflict put down their weapons to come together in the spirit of friendly competition. I love that. And, as Melbourne is host (Notice how I say Mel-ben, right? My friends say, 'Are you in Mel-borne?' I say, 'No, I'm in Mel-ben') to the soccer competitions, I want to say may your games flourish in that same wonderful ancient spirit. In September when you open your country to the athletes and the eyes of the world, everyone will come to know the tremendous warmth and generosity that I felt here tonight and throughout my stay. Yes, I'll miss you Australia," Barbra confirmed. "I had a good time here." BSMG sources report that Barbra expressed similar warm wishes to her Sydney audiences, who will host most of the Olympic events.

Getting to her surprise encore, she said, "Now, I usually sing a different song here. I sing a song called 'Don't Like Goodbyes,' but this is a song I haven't done in these concerts until tonight, because I heard that it was a favorite here." As you might expect, the audience was buzzing with anticipation. "So, I'm gonna try it. Go along with me if I goof up the words and stuff," urged Barbra. You don't bring me flowers (Shoulda done it every night, huh?) / You don't sing me love songs / You hardly talk to me anymore when you come through the door at the end of the day (Marvin, I shoulda rehearsed it with you) / I remember when..."

"Wow, I should have done that every night in Australia," a pleased Barbra told the audience before imparting her parting thought. Adding an extra line from her rain-soaked Sydney concert, she said, "We all want to change the world into a better place, but that's an overwhelming task. I think all we can really do is change ourselves a little bit at a time, because that's the only thing we have control over. And as we change ourselves inside, I believe we can change the world. I believe that. Everybody takes a little responsibility, and think of the positive instead of the negative. I believe for every drop of rain that falls a flower grows..."

Before leaving the stadium for the night, Barbra Streisand, perhaps predictably, returned to the stage to a thunderous ovation following "I Believe / Somewhere." "Well, if you insist—a little encore for the encore, huh?" Barbra said, before "Come Rain Or Come Shine," pleasing the crowd to no end. "This is my last performance here in Australia. ..."Well, I'm gonna tell you a thing or two. I love this song. I'm gonna love you like nobody's loved you come rain or come shine (Harold Arlen) / High as a mountain..." How appropriate to wrap her Australian tour with a song about loving regardless of the weather. On this continent during the late summer of 2000, Barbra Streisand and her audiences certainly exchanged overflowing torrents of love on humid evenings, rainy evenings, and perfect evenings. Some would say that every night was perfect.

Credits: This review was written by Mark Iskowitz and Barbra Streisand Music Guide reporters in Australia. It was written April 11, 2000.

Melbourne, Australia Set List

Act 1

Act 2

Encores

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