Streisand: 2006 North American Concert Tour

Boston, MA

October 22nd

TD Banknorth Garden

Streisand in Boston

This page:

Video above: Streisand sings “Dont Rain on My Parade” as the Boston crowd goes nuts!

Set List

Act One

Il Divo set:

  1. Unchained Melody
  2. Unbreak My Heart
  3. My Way (dedicated to Barbra)

Funny Girl Suite:

Act Two


Press Reviews & Photos

Boston Globe Review

Streisand returns with class, personality

By Joan Anderman

October 23, 2006

People who have money may not be the luckiest people in the world, but they were fortunate enough to be able to buy tickets -- which cost up to $750 each -- to Barbra Streisand's first concert tour in more than a decade.

The icon performed a 2 1/2-hour show on a terraced, lavender-lit set outfitted with opulent bouquets of roses, a spotlit "S" seared onto center stage, and a lush 58-piece orchestra. It was a classy affair that emphasized material with slow tempos and gentle phrasing. There was no disco, no "Stoney End," and the only duet was with Il Divo, the classiest of boy bands. At 64, Streisand's voice has lost some of it's plushness and elasticity. There's an airiness to her tones where once there was silken clarity. But with her excellent pitch and colorful personality completely intact, and most important her remarkable powers of interpretation, Streisand entertained a sold-out house at the Garden with a cornucopia of songs that spanned her 46-year career.

Following the original "Funny Girl" overture, Streisand materialized from below the stage in a floor-length, sailor-style black sequined suit to sing a short opening set and wax poetic about the Celtics, the old Frolics nightclub at Revere Beach, and Boston food. Every word of her between-song chatter, and all of her song lyrics, scrolled on several large teleprompters, which the singer uses, she explained, since forgetting the lyrics to three songs in 1967.

Never for a moment, however, did Streisand seem to be reading. She remains a consummate entertainer, creating intimacy on "The Way We Were" that felt more suited to a supper club than an arena. The orchestra, led by Bill Ross, accompanied the singer with elegant, string-laden arrangements on show-opener "Starting Here, Starting Now," " Down with Love" and "Come Rain or Come Shine." Streisand briefly sat at the piano for a whimsical stab at "Ma Premiere Chanson," the first song (of a mere 10) that she ever composed.

Il Divo, a sort of Josh Groban-meets-the-Three-Tenors popera creation, then performed its own highly melodramatic miniset ("Unchained Melody" in Italian, for example) and supplied a harmony tsunami on Streisand's gorgeous version of "Somewhere," from "West Side Story." She called that song a prayer for tolerance, compassion, and peace -- a message underlined by the singer's outspoken politics, on full display in the form of Steve Bridges, a George W. Bush impersonator, with whom Streisand bantered for a full 10 minutes. While she was heckled for this quasi-humorous stunt in New York, where she (now famously) responded with an expletive-strewn retort, the Boston audience laughed exuberantly.

Streisand's musical set list could have used a bit more of that exuberance and vitality. Her "Funny Girl" medley (the title song, "My Man," and of course "People") was lovely, as was "In a Very Unusual Way" and Michel Legrand's exquisite "What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?" But the show was decidedly low-wattage up until the final 20 minutes or so, when Streisand broke out the big-money notes and brassy energy. Perhaps it has to be rationed now, and if so, she chose well. The concert's closing stretch featured vibrant, colorful renditions of "(Have I Stayed) Too Long At the Fair," "Cockeyed Optimist," and the incomparable "Don't Rain on My Parade," which inspired Streisand, who was by this time barefoot, to kick up her legs like a chorus girl. It was a sight, and a sound, to behold.

Photo by Lisa Hornak

Boston Herald Review

She's Still Like Buttah

by Terry Byrne

No question about it: Babs has still got it.

Sen. John Kerry — sans Teresa — slipping into his center floor seat after the lights went down . . . Gubernatorial wannabe Deval Patrick pressing the flesh on the floor during the Demmie lovefest’s intermission . . . Streisand’s hubby, actor James Brolin, cheering on his Funny Girl from third row, center . . . Mayor Tom Menino and wife, Angela, heading backstage . . . Senate President Bob Travaglini glad-handing before the Like Buttah One took the stage at the TD Banknorth Garden . . . “Game Plan” PR guy David Linck and wife, Rose, celebrating their anniversary . . . Jeweler-to-the-stars Donna DePrisco admiring Babs’ baubles . . . Travel and sports titan Steve Belkin and wife, Joan, getting verklempt in their primo seats . . .

Last night’s performance at the TD Banknorth Garden showed a Barbra Streisand mellowed by age, but still looking and sounding fabulous.

Babs’ politics don’t rain on Hub fans’ parade The Boston crowd greeted her like a rock star, and even with her first number, “Starting Here, Starting Now,” her deep, almost husky voice created a few goose bumps. Dressed in a sequined sailor suit (with pockets!) and accompanied by a 55-piece orchestra, she looked remarkably relaxed. She mentioned her concert appearance at Frolics in Revere (in 1963) and worked mentions of several Boston-area restaurants into her between-song patter. Although “The Way We Were” was only the third song on her set list, and “Evergreen” was soon to follow, she did dip into her catalog with “Ma Premiere Chanson,” her own composition from her early album “Je m’Appelle Barbra,” and played it on the piano. The “man band” Il Divo came out to join her on “Evergreen,” and sang four songs on its own while she took a break. The pretty-boy quartet seemed like Streisand’s version of chorus boys but added nothing to the evening besides a little bass on “Music of the Night” from “The Phantom of the Opera.” But the break seemed to give her a chance to warm up. When she returned, she seemed eager to let her voice leap along the scales. She can’t hit those very high notes anymore, but she’s still got great control and impressive volume. Her selections from “Funny Girl” proved her amazing ability to pack an emotional wallop in a story song, with “My Man” and “People” bringing down the house. After a 20-minute intermission, Streisand returned with a medley of “You’ve Got to be Carefully Taught/Children Will Listen,” dedicated to her son Jason, before launching into “Unusual Way” from the musical “Nine.”

After appearing in two sequined outfits, she emerged in the second act in a flattering Egyptian-style number, but took her heels off and sang the rest of her set in bare feet, including “What Are You Doing The Rest of Your Life?” and “Have I Stayed Too Long at the Fair?” Her much talked-about Bush impersonator was a striking double, but his jokes were moldy Vegas schtick. Fortunately, the musical duet with him (which earned catcalls in New York) was cut, and Streisand sang the haunting “Happy Days Are Here Again” alone. She did philosophize a little too much, but managed to fit in “Cockeyed Optimist,” a lush “Somewhere” and “My Shining Hour,” returning with “Don’t Rain on My Parade” for an encore. It’s good to see Streisand back onstage, despite the painfully steep ticket prices. If this is indeed her last tour, it was certainly worth it.

Streisand in Boston

Fan Reviews & Photos

Notes About the Concert by Jeffrey B.

A few notes from the concert: During her talk about how valuable teleprompters were began with her misquoting that in 1967 during her One Voice concert she forgot the words to three songs and she didn't handle it well. Then she says that in 1986 during her One Voice concert she could perform again because they had invented teleprompters. She then related how much easier it was until they sang America, The Beautiful and everyone stood up and blocked her view of the words.

She was much more relaxed than when I saw her In Vegas and New York in 1994 and 2000. Someone yelled we love you BaaaHBraaH and she laughed. She said "Baaston, It is almost like a New York accent. BaaaHbraaah - what did you do with my r's. Come to think of it I got rid of one of my r's early on." Very relaxed and mentioned her early visits for Funny Girl and I can Get it for you wholesale tryouts. She also related her time at Frolics in Revere Beach in 1963 and how they had dancing chorus girls just like in the movie Funny Girl.

Best question read that night. Barbra, how does it feel to be over 50? She made a great face and said, well, I am so glad you didn't ask how does it feel to be over 60!"

There was no second encore of Smile on Sunday night. The band and cameraman actually sat back down as if she was coming back. After about 5 minutes the house lights came up and the band started to leave.

INTERESTING ITEM OVERHEARD REGARDING LONDON: The man working the Ask Barbra table let some news out that has been floating out there. 2 ladies from London were filling out cards and he said. "my, you have come along way to see her. By the way, if we come to London will you guys come to see us?" He said that there are ongoing talks to bring the show to London.

A great show all around except for some extreme feedback during Il Divo's solo set and the volume of the solo set was 3 times louder than the rest of the show.

Streisand in Boston

Doug from NY's Review

"Starting here, Starting now", .......Starting to realize that I was actually there to see the one and only Barbra Streisand!! :) Boston was more than eager to witness this exciting moment that would forever leave it's mark as one of the most memorable experiences of our lives!!

First, let me say that Barbra looked absolutely stunning!! Her voice was in top form from the moment she sang the first lines of "Starting Here, Starting Now", till the last note of "DOn't Rain on my Parade"!! I was with my wife, my Mom, Dad, Brother, and a friend of our family. This was the second time my wife and I were fortunate enough to see Barbra!! We saw her in Vegas for the Millennium show. However, this was the first time for the family. What can I say? How does one put into words the emotions that were felt by all!!

I have always credited my Mom for introducing me at such a young age , to the most beloved talent that anyone in my lifetime could possibly imagine!! Barbra's music, movies, and shows have been with my family since I was four years old!! We have memories of decorating the Christmas tree to the classic Streisand Christmas album. Barbra was always there for me to inspire me and to touch my soul with her artistry!! I am also a singer and have always felt that Barbra was indeed the guiding force for me to be musical, and last night in Boston being there again with Barbra, the magic truly did come full-circle!!

The selection of songs was not only great but it just seemed to all flow so smoothly together. This show truly did have a more intimate setting and feel to it.

Barbra sang every note with such style and grace and when she reached for the high notes not only did she reach them, she brought the notes to new levels!! It was often hard to believe that throughout the concert we were experiencing a woman who entertained the world for over 40 years,it was unbelievable!!

I have to say that I enjoyed Il Divo, they added so much "class" to the show!! They sounded great with Barbra, especially during "Music of the Night" and "Somewhere"!! Over all, the concert just seemed to get more exciting with each song she would perform!! My brother at one point said, "we have been listening to her since we were kids but seeing her live, it was actually a very humbling experience!"

I really enjoyed "Children Will Listen", Barbra spoke about the importance of how we speak to our children and that they are innocent precious sponges and look to us as being the "example". Having two children of my own, it became very personal, I truly was touched!! Another highlight was when Barbra and Il Divo performed "Somewhere" from West SIde Story, it happens to be one of my Mother's favorite songs and holding my Mother's hand at one side of me and then on the other, my WIfe, it really was an emotional experience I will NEVER forget!!!!

As we were leaving the show to walk outside to get a taxi to go back to the Hotel, our friend asked me, "If you were ever lucky enough to meet Barbra, would you ask her for her autograph?" Without any hesitation I responded, "No, I would not ask that of Barbra, instead I would simply say to Barbra, Thank you for ALL that you have given to me throughout my lifetime, for the many gifts that you have shared and for the profound influence you have had on my life!!!!"

The concert truly was a memorable SUCCESS!!!!!

Alan's Concert Report

... I'll say one thing about the intermission: I walked from my seat (row 14 on the floor) back to where the musical engineering equipment was located, and struck up a conversation with a man who wore a "staff" ID. Among other things, he indicated that the Ft. Lauderdale concerts would be recorded for ultimate release, though I'm not certain if he meant for CD or for DVD. He also stated that Barbra had rehearsed an additional 30 (thirty) songs, in addition to those that she has typically sung during this tour, in case she wants to make any musical changes along the way. I'd mentioned "Where or When" as one song that, through the Barbra-Archives reporting, had been sung on just several occasions .... and he indicated that she wasn't going to be singing that for the Boston performance (which is too bad, since that's always been an important Barbra song for me .... along with a few zillion others). He said that in rehearsal, earlier that day, Barbra had rehearsed 4 additional numbers (including "I'm Still Here"), which she wasn't planning to do that evening.

... In her question/answer segment, she received a question from a Rhode Island woman who offered Barbra an opportunity to check out her selection of Stickley Furniture. Barbra responded that she had a piece of Stickley, but concentrated on a certain period of history in her furnishings (the details of which escapes me, at present), and that she was working on a green room in her house, but if she ever needed further Stickley items, she'd call her. Another question was from a man from Toronto (Barbra, sounding somewhat incredulous: "You came HERE?? You coulda seen me in Toronto!" ... audience laughs). The man identified himself as a newer film director who had gotten inspired in his career direction by having witnessed some of Barbra's directing efforts. Barbra said that she felt touched by this. He asked if she'd consider returning to film another musical (audience applause). She responded by how much she likes to have time for gardening (audience expressions of humorous understanding as well as disappointment) ... and that she plans to write a book .... since telling the "truth" is important to her and so many inaccuracies have been stated in relation to her.

Shawn's Review

Barbra's concerts have been well described in previous entries, so I will concentrate on what may have been different in Boston: During the Q&A section, a fan inquired as to what Barbra likes about being over fifty. Barbra's answer was that she liked that the fan didn't ask her what she likes about being over sixty! Another fan offered a tip as to where Barbra can find Stickley furniture in Rhode Island. Barbra stated that she is currently focused on 19th century furniture and is building a library based on the works of a particular architect (I can't recall his name.) However, if she should need Stickley furniture in the future, she will give the fan a call! During the build-up for "Happy Days Are Here Again", Barbra said that she hopes that she can sing it again in 2007 "For real, real, real. Right, John?" She was addressing John Kerry, who was in attendance. Barbra enjoyed fried clams while in Boston and "loves fried clams" [which is true, as she and Jim stopped in Ipswich, Massachusetts - a seafood haven and home of the "Ipswich clam" - a few years ago while driving through the area.] She recalled a particular dessert at Durgin Park that she had enjoyed while in Boston during previous performances, which included pre-Broadway performances of "I Can Get It For You Wholesale", "Funny Girl" and her nightclub act at The Frolic in Revere, Massachusetts. Barbra had wanted to see the location of the historical Boston Tea Party, and it sounded as though she may have been by that location during the afternoon of the concert, as she made several references to traveling to "the harbor." Barbra was in good voice. As noted, her intonation and sustains were impressive and she improved as the show progressed. There was evidence of raspiness in her mid-range during "The Way We Were", however her upper and lower registers were sure and true throughout the evening. Performances of "What Are You Doing The Rest Of Your Life?", "I Stayed Too Long At The Fair", and "Funny Girl" were particularly 'youthful' and strong. The sound quality was most unusually good for the venue, just as I had hoped for based on Barbra's reputation for carpeting arenas to improve acoustics, etc. Barbra's vocals were crystalline and 'real.' Not a trace of added reverb, sweeteners or excessive volume. I can't say the same for Il Divo, though. They were clear but excessively loud.

Tom Rubeck Review

Of course, she was fabulous. As much as you try, you can never anticipate just how overwhelmed you are when she first rises from the stage. It's electrifying... So much has already been said about the show as a whole, that all I can add is she sounded smoother than I've ever heard her before in concert. Seriously, I don't know if it's maturity or the drugs... but her voice was silkier than it was when I saw her in '94 and again in '00. When she sang her "Funny Girl" medley... you really felt like she was performing, and not just singing the words for the one-millionth time.

I was with a friend who saw her in DC last week, and said she sounded 10-times better in Boston. Maybe it's the chowder. Whatever it was... when she started doing her little kick-dance routine at the end of the show, it was fabulous...!

The only thing missing was the second encore... which I think took the orchestra by surprise. Poor Bill was out there not knowing what to do. The lights came up. The lights went down. The lights came up again... finally he turned around and frantically waved to the crowd like, "that was it". (I heard a rumor that since John Kerry had left before the encore, Barbra wanted to talk to him before he left the building. Even if not true, it makes a good story...!)

That's it... Hopefully she'll be just as good when I see her again in Florida.

Cheers...! Tom Rubeck

Eva Rice's Review

This is a completely different Barbra. She doesn't sweat the small stuff any more. It's not about having the right fabric on her concert stool, or exactly the right tea service on the stage. She doesn't care if she shows her human side. She's completely comfortable with herself, her age, her weight. And it's all OK, because she's given up obsessing on perfecting every detail. Around the time we saw her in "Timeless", it seemed like she had really let go of a lot of old "stuff", but now she seems to be totally there. The happiness seems real and complete, and she radiates it.

Yes, she still has the tele-prompters to follow, but I don't think she keeps so strictly on-script anymore. One example: She was talking about how she used the tele-prompters because she forgot the lyrics during A Happening In Central Park, and she didn't sing live again until One Voice. However, she screwed up and referred to A Happening In Central Park as One Voice. She didn't even catch her error. Or maybe she did, and she just didn't worry about it. Everybody knew what she meant anyway. My point is that she doesn't seem to hang onto her tele-prompter for dear life every single second anymore. Now, it's like: "Hey, here I am! How ya doin'? Let's have some fun together. I hope you enjoy this. Oh, and I really am enjoying being with you and singing for you." It's like she showed up in your living room and sang for you, leaning over the back of the sofa.

No, Barbra did NOT add Smile as the second encore. However, the more and more I considered it, I realized that she made the perfect call in NOT adding Smile. Here's why: The encore performance of Don't Rain On My Parade was one of the most the most amazing things I have ever witnessed in my life. Something must have literally possessed the woman. Barbra gave a performance that I cannot even describe and will remember for the rest of my life. She literally poured everything she had in her body, soul, and voice into that song. I'm sure you must have read about this by now, but I'll try to describe it: When she got to the high point of the song where she began "I'll March My Band Out...", she began marching across the stage in her bare feet, kicking her legs up like a chorus girl! OMG, we were screaming! What an adrenaline rush! Everyone was already on their feet and cheering by the end, and I was in tears. Where did she find whatever it was deep inside herself to be able to give us that much at the very end?

When it was done, and after many, many bows (running back and forth across the stage to bid farewell to each side of the audience), she exited the stage at last. Deafening cheers and applause went on, and on, and ON -- seemingly forever! We were all begging her to come back, complete with foot stomping and chanting "Barbra, Barbra" and "One More!" The conductor waited and waited and waited for her decision. I've never seen anything like this go on for so long. No one wanted to give up until she came back. But finally, Bill Ross folded his sheet music and exited, followed by the rest of the musicians. It wasn't until then we realized she wouldn't be back.

There was a brief moment of disappointment that we weren't getting a second encore, but then it hit me: Barbra's genius is that she always knows exactly the right call to make. She certainly did not skip Smile because her voice was too weak, or she was just too tired. Smile would have been a walk in the park for her to perform after Don't Rain On My Parade. Barbra simply knew that NOTHING she could sing after Don't Rain on My Parade could ever compare or live up to we had just witnessed. Instead, Barbra chose (rightly) to leave us wanting more. She chose to leave us forever with the memory of this 64-year-old woman who is even more amazing today than ever. It was perfection. I swear to you, that is why I will always love Barbra Streisand until the day I die. If that performance of Don't' Rain On My Parade was the only thing she had ever given me in my entire life, it would be enough.

Natalie's Review

OMG!!!!!!!!! That was the BEST night of my life!!! I can die happy now. She was soooooooooo amazing. First of all that voice..shes still got it!! and the way she looked.........all i can say is she is HOT lol!! She is the best looking 64 year old I have ever seen. She is also sooooooo funny!! Omg in the begining she was talking about all of this food that she ate in Boston and how she went to Boston harbor so she's going on and on with a list of foods and then she goes..."and then I realize I have to get back to have dinner before the show" I was dying!!!!! Another thing she said that I LOVED was "there are soo many rumors about me like how i make people look down when they pass me, and how this one time i walked into a room and fired everyone on the left but if anyone knows me I would have fired everyone on the right!!" Only true fans would get that so I was hysterical. She could be a comedian. I was like the youngest one there but it was sooo sweet seeing so many older people crying!! The biggest thing that hit me was that there were deaf people there because they had a signer and it is amazing that people who can't even hear her go there to see her. INCREDIBLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Also, I am so proud to be a young fan. People were like staring at me at the concert and I just smiled at them like yup, I'm young!!!! Today in school I wore my My Man t-shirt with all of the pins proudly!! I LOVE IT!!!!!

Jeff Dixon's Review

Barbra was just FANTASTIC! I do think she should have thought a bit more about the song selection because in some spots the "flow" was kind of off. I could have done without Il Divo all together. I really wanted to hear HER sing Evergreen and not have to listen to them attempt to drown her out. I'm not sure why Boston didn't get the second encore of Smile, which was a big disappointment for those of us who read your site and thought we were going to get to hear it. So in short the voice was great (I won't go there with the "she doesn't sound like she used to") routine. We should all just be grateful that she decided to do this at all. The crowd was very excited to hear and see her, but I would have thought that people that paid that much for a ticket would have dressed a little better! Shame on anyone wearing sweatpants?? What on Earth? All in all, very exciting for any fan! On a scale of 1-10…..a solid 8!!!

Richard Audet's Review

Early on in the Boston concert Sunday night, Barbra recalled appearing at the old Frolics club at Revere Beach outside Boston in early February 1963 -- Frolics, she said, was a throwback to the kinds of clubs the young Fanny Brice worked in, with chorus girls and such. Coincidentally enough, it was during that Boston visit that I, then age 12, saw and heard the young Barbra Streisand for the first time. She made an appearance on a local tv program called Boston Ballroom (it was a knockoff of American Bandstand), and that Saturday afternoon she appeared lip-synching to her single of “My Coloring Book.” I could not take my eyes off this unusual girl, and her voice and the story-telling just grabbed me -- a “Fan Is Born” moment, though I didn’t know it at the time. But I certainly remembered her, and she occasionally reentered my world: spotting her on Ed Sullivan singing “When the Sun Comes Out,” hearing “People” for the first time on a car radio on a summer evening, and finally at some point, at age 14, buying a couple of her albums -- from that point on, I became a genuine fan, admirer, and student of her music and performances.

Forty-plus years later, anticipating this concert, I think I was preparing to make certain allowances for the passage of time -- the voice probably not what it once was, the performer more “mature,” and thus more an object of veneration and nostalgia for past accomplishments -- i.e., I guess I was expecting a “thanks for the memories” occasion. I’m here to say that is not what I witnessed Sunday night -- Barbra Streisand’s performance, at its best, was as wondrous as ever, the voice as musical and intense and “deep” and reaching, creating all those hooks into heart and mind and soul that are characteristically her gift.

I first saw Streisand perform live at Madison Square Garden in July 1994, and recollect the initial impressions of actually hearing that voice live, of experiencing it “in the moment,” so to speak, and how remarkable it is, and I was less surprised but certainly still impressed Sunday night. Beyond that, what I was most struck by was the Streisand persona of 2006, which seems to evoke the young Streisand of the 1960s, in fact seems the natural evolution of the young Streisand -- it was almost as if the Streisand of the intervening decades, and that music and those achievements, had evaporated, and that we were seeing what had become of the brash, free-spirited, “gotta move” Barbra of those days. Almost all of the music performed is from that era, or was written and already current in that era, and it interested me that she was sort of going back to her roots in style and substance, to the musical climate of her early years, not to resurrect the old days in some complacent way, but to reconnect with her earliest inspirations and re-center them in the present tense.

That is, when she sings “Don’t Rain on My Parade” as her encore (the only one in Boston), the choice seems not only a crowd-pleasing finale; rather, it seems a fresh, renewed, authentic declaration of identity and will -- how many 60-somethings could pull off that song with absolute conviction and still sing it with such drive? Streisand playfully strutted her way through the final verses, having lived up to and earned every syllable of that song -- I imagine she could only have topped it by at long last singing “I’m the Greatest Star” as her own self (and not as Fanny). She’s earned that too, and it would bring the house down. (Go for it, Barbra!)

There seems a kind of ambivalent logic to the song sequencing -- the promise of “Starting Here, Starting Now” balanced by the mordant “Down with Love,” the rueful “Way We Were” paired with a determined “Come Rain or Come Shine.” Streisand dedicated “Unusual Way” to those experiencing complicated relationships, then dedicating the next one, “What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?” to “all of you” (not “us”) enjoying more satisfying ones. This yin and yang within the selections of love songs seems again very much like the early Barbra -- leaving it an open question whether she herself today finds the issue more complicated or satisfying.

I loved that blending, I loved the way the word “carefully” in the close to “Carefully Taught” inevitably prompts the word “careful” -- but reverses its meaning and import -- in the opening line of “Children Will Listen.” I loved Barbra’s “jazzy” (her word) enjoyment of “Down with Love,” her musicality releasing itself even in her hand gestures. That was fun to see. I thought using “When the Sun Comes Out’’ to open Act 2 was an excellent idea, a charged, swinging, delivery and arrangement. And like so many others, I thought the performance of the movie song “Funny Girl” was a beautiful touchstone of how ripe Streisand’s voice still is.

I know that Il Divo seems to get the back of everyone’s hands, and I am fairly unfamiliar with them, but I enjoyed them more than I expected to, and I would say the Boston crowd especially liked their version of “My Way.” Their performance of “Music of the Night” with Streisand was the high point of their duets with her, all the more impressive to me because I usually don’t care for the song that much. I thought the “Evergreen” duet was an opportunity lost in the way it is arranged and staged; given that Streisand herself recorded the song in several languages, I think more could have been done with that in creating a musical interplay with Il Divo.

I very much enjoyed the lighting -- this is the kind of thing that will probably be lost on any possible dvd of the concerts. But the shifts in lighting between performer and orchestra, upstage and downstage, ripples of light floating over the audience -- let’s just say I love that stuff. The use of lighting managed to combine theatricality and expressiveness, very Streisand I thought.

The Boston references were fun -- she mentioned Durgin Park and Legal Seafoods and Boston cream pie, and (to me, a little improbably) Trident book store on Newbury street, a funky place that 60s Barbra would have no doubt found on her own. Receiving several exclamations of love throughout the concert, Barbara had fun remarking on all the dropped “r”s in the Boston-accented “Barbra”s.

I liked Steve Bridges the Bush impersonator. If you just focus on him, he is obviously a remarkable mimic, and kind of inspired in his own right. It seemed to me that he is let down by the material he is working with; the skit feels long I think because it is so one-sided. Given the streamlined, occasionally rushed, feel to Sunday’s concert -- the audience question-and-answer section seeming perfunctory; and then one encore, not two -- I think most audience members, even in this bluest of blue cities, would have given up “Barbra Meets George” in favor of the pooch and “Smile.”

As for the dropped encore: the audience clapped and cheered for several minutes, trying to entice Streisand out on stage for a second encore. Bill Ross and his orchestra seemed primed for this to happen, the suspense cresting, until Ross with a stooped bent to his shoulders seemed to signal apologetically that it was not to be. A kind of “ouch” moment, given what had preceded, and all the raised expectations.

I hope one day Streisand revives “Who Are You Now?” which she has never recorded or apparently performed since the original Broadway production of “Funny Girl.” She did allude to it Sunday night, which got my hopes up for an instant -- I have always thought the lyrics were profound, and am curious to hear how an older Barbra might render them. Be that as it may, I can only assure you that Barbra has not stayed too long at the fair, she is still the most womanly performer around (those “ribbons” she sings about in the song are still looking just fine), and if I approached the concert wondering “Who Are You Now?” the answer turns out to be all good. Barbra is ever-green.

Fan shot from afar

Werner Matrisch's Review (from Germany)

Confident, intimate and very warm-hearted:

Barbra Streisand, … a white soul singer in Boston.

Guest: IL DIVO

by Werner Matrisch

When I experienced Barbra Streisand live in Boston on October 22, 2006, she had already done eight concerts of her tour of twenty cities. There has been an incredible amount of reports on her tour by the US press and numerous fans alike. I deem it virtually impossible to add something new to that, except that I can tell you how I experienced her concert personally. When you have been a fan for forty years, yet have never watched your star live, your expectations are naturally great. On the other hand, I have tracked Streisand’s career from LP to LP, from CD to CD, from movie to movie for over decades with a lot of focus and I thought I knew very well how her voice should be evaluated after 46 demanding years that make up her career.

But when I saw her live and listened to her performance everything turned out to be a little bit different. The arena, which was crowded with people to the very last place, gets darkened and only the silent stage gets floodlighted in a purple tone. The orchestra plays the overture of “Funny Girl”. The 55 musicians (as well as the sound arrangers) produce a surprisingly perfect sound: dynamic, distinguished, transparent. The hearts of all hard-boiled Streisand fans begin to leap with joy now. I’m with them: the music for the musically “Funny Girl” automatically gets identified with Streisand and her exceptional personality. The anticipation of the joy, which is huge already, rises even more.

The track has come to an end and SHE walks from the background on stage – slowly and without producing a sound. Dressed elegantly, medium in size and far from being as fat as the yellow press would have it recently, she is standing there while she welcomes the audience with a friendly smile on her lips. Then she proceeds to say a few nice things about Boston, where she had not been for some 40 years indeed. Everyone cheers and applauds. Tears start to flow with the young woman next to me. As the audience calms down, Barbra starts gently with “Starting Here, Starting Now”.

Her voice sounds extraordinarily beautiful and also steady and pure-toned. Then she continues to the high-pitched and stressed note “nooow”, which pushes the song to its height with lots of effect and which requires great amounts of vocal force. Even more so, because the next note is stressed equally but even higher! Unfortunately, the first long note gets drowned in the loud rejoice and clapping of the audience. Only after that you can hear how Barbra manages to hold the tone with a tremendous force and how she is able to push it even higher. The sound of her voice develops a dramatic fullness and widens to embrace the whole room … with a bit more echo than known from CD, but at the same time warmer and closer. She’s alive. Now. The audience claps like crazy and cheers to the stage in passion. The people there accompany each new song of Barbra with lots of applause from the very beginning of the concert.

Next, she rouses everyone with “Down with Love” which is swinging with a lot of temperament. Even more than with her concerts of 1994 and 2000 Barbra turns to the classical ballads and musical songs this time. During this concert you realize that songs like “Down with Love”, “When the Sun Comes Out”, “My Man”, “People” or “Have I Stayed Too Long at the Fair” are doubtlessly of highest quality and that they open up the possibility to show all of her talents. The case with good artists goes something like that: the better the original, the better (the cover of) the artist can be. Some of her songs in this concert are very much geared towards jazz. That is why the new live version of Harold Arlen’s “Come Rain, Come Shine” is her most impulsive one yet. The arrangement is better than in earlier recordings, too. Barbra transforms “When the Sun Comes Out”, that “belt-out-song”, into a tour de force: her voice belts out with lots of vigor against the great big band – awesome, this is how it should be, how it should sound like.

But it is not only that voice that is so fascinating. Barbra can demonstrate her unique presence on stage in an extraordinary way and thus can lend her performance truthfulness. This is well-known and a lot has been written about that and everyone who saw her before me has fantacized about it. I live through that now, today, in this very moment: I can sense that she reaches everyone in this hall, even those in the most backward and highest places… You cannot clearly tell if it is some kind of secret magic of Streisand or just her professional musical knowledge about these wonderful songs: stories on disappointments and unfulfilled love, which she lives through again in such a great performance. Certainly, at the same time it is the sheer admiration of her fans that gets projected unto her. Thus, a mutual effect of identification develops.

The confidence the fans have in Barbra lends her more self-confidence and even makes her more sensitive concerning her performance.

In her younger years she impressed critics and fans alike with the force of her voice, which she used permanently and which was almost unbecoming. Furthermore, she used these high and oftentimes steely pitch levels. Naturally, she has made less use of such excursions and of that great volume in recent years – which is a good thing, because her voice sounded beautiful, relaxed and unspent. Certainly, her voice has lost a bit of volume and endurance. On the other hand, it has won an exceedingly beautiful deeper register full of warmth. It unfolds very clearly in her ballads during the evening.

It is hard to decide which song was the absolute highlight of the evening … taken individually each song was its own highlight. Yet, the ballads “What are You Doing the Rest of Your Life”, “People” and especially “Have I Stayed Too Long at the Fair” have proven that Barbra is able to sing these songs with more nuances than in her younger years due to the experiences of a full life. During the song she moved to the right side of the stage, almost right in front of me, and sat down on a chair there. This proximity along with the irresistible mellowness of her voice touched me in a way beyond all description. She emanated so much presence, fragility and warmth, her ravishing charisma totally caught me.

And the most melancholic “Have I Stayed Too Long at the Fair” did its own part to carry me away. Her singing, which was artfully distinguished while very natural at the same time, created a sparkling expression of atmosphere: she granted the audience a glimpse into the fragile emotional world of a human, who believes to have lost the grasp on life, who does not know where he or she is standing right now. It is a sublime, dear moment when a Barbra Streisand convinces with such a line of text: “no daddy dear, you never could have known that I would be successful, yet so very much alone”…

Ray Charles once said on Barbra Streisand: “She is the greatest living white female singer today. She doesn’t just sing notes but sings feelings.” For me Barbra is the greatest white woman soul singer, which may sound strange to some at first. Streisand does use other forms of musical expression than what is normally known as soul music, because she does not have that rough or hoarse voice and stomping rhythm is not her cup of tea. But soul music essentially revolves around expressing ones emotions and the reality of the environment in an intensive and authentic way. And soul music cannot be the monopoly of coloured musicians. Is it possible to think of something more authentic and intensive than a Barbra Streisand? She has exposed her soul in countless songs. Who can sing with more depth of expression? Isn’t she the original who has set standards for many woman singers? From the very beginning she has always remained true to herself and she has not copied anyone to this day. It is easy and shallow to put a Barbra Streisand into the Las Vegas glamour corner just because she also sings at such places.

Barbra Streisand was able to transform the huge arena in Boston into an intimate club with most of her songs this evening. No coloured wafts of mist on stage, no goofy dancers jumping around her without which no other pop star moves on stage these days. She just stands silently on stage most of the time or she sits on a stool and 18.000 people listen to her charming performance, which is warm and real and does not have a thing in common with Kitsch. (I will relate to Kitsch later when talking about the performance of Il Divo.)

Her singing, her voice embraced everything, just as if she had wanted to stroke the audience with it. There were people of all social classes and of all ages. Behind me were some wheelchair users. Among them was a woman of approximately 80 years, who had an oxygen cannula in her nose. Very young people were there, too. I met some of them in the break. They addressed me, because they appreciated my self-made Barbra t-shirt. They had come exclusively for the concert from Rome, Paris or the Saarland. Martina, a student aged 20, came over from Vienna. A young Israelite fan I know travelled from Tel Aviv to New York only to see Barbra in the Madison Square Garden. Yes, Barbra is being loved – in a rather unique way.

When the guest stars Il Divo walk on stage later that evening I feel disturbed in the otherwise harmonic order of the concert. The bombastic song “Don’t Break My Heart” by Toni Braxton is performed in an acceptable way yet. But then they sing Sinatra’s “My Way”. Before that, the four tenors, who are young and attractive, declare that they dedicate this song to Barbra and that they want to sing it in “Streisand’s way”. (Whatever they mean by that, oh my God!!) What follows then is super schmaltzy roaring performed with greatest volume. Their trained voices indulge in a constant obsolete tremolo and are full of pathos. They sing mawkishly, coo, belt out and yodel and thus find themselves a full hundred years before Sinatra. In volume their performance reached the pain threshold and it was the loudest, most trashy and insensitive performance of the whole evening. Il Divo confuse depth of expression with volume. When I set high standards for the quality of music I cannot but deem this performance terrible. The tenors think their voices are enough – but what good is good voices when they just bleat that uninspired and loud?

Some critics had Andrew Webber’s “Music of the Night” as the highlight of the concert. I was not especially content with this song either, although Barbra joins in in the second part of the song and her voice fits well in succession with Il Divo. The same is true for “Evergreen”. Basically, along with me many people would like to have listened to Barbra alone with her songs, probably. Of course, Il Divo have their fans, too. “My Way” got lots of applause, because it had something shamelessly spectacular about it. On the other hand, I noticed that a lot of people left the hall especially during Il Divo’s performance to go to the toilet or fetch something to eat or drink. (What I deem a very distinct, rather bad trait of the Americans…)

To come to an end with the chapter “Il Divo” I have to jump ahead to act two. Shortly before the end of the concert the four bards reappear on stage in order to finish Barbra’s hymnal “Somewhere” from Bernstein’s “West Side Story”. There is something about that song. Although I think the combination Streisand-Il Divo is still kitschy, it works better for that particular song. The five voices completed a bombastic and cleverly launched performance, which you almost would have expected for the ending of such an evening anyway. Of course, there were standing ovations again. And I contend the performance was impressive concerning its musical force. Yet, Barbra alone would have performed the song more adequately, distinguished and eventually more beautifully with the infallible elegance and the force of radiation of her voice. My opinion echoes the opinion of the US press, which goes as follows by the majority: Barbra Streisand does not need Il Divo.

The first act finishes with melodies of “Funny Girl”. It is more than simply astonishing that Barbra is still able to interpret the songs “People” and “My Man” in such a convincing way after countless performances. “My Man” succeeds in having all people jump up from their seats. After the break the first song she performs is the show stopper “When the Sun Comes Out”. (I already related to this one.) The audience is overwhelmed by a furious jazz version of the song. It was a grandiose performance. What amazes me over and over again is the quality of the voice of Barbra Streisand, who is 64 already. After that she dedicates a song to her son Jason, whom she loves so much, which happens quite often at her concerts. The title of the song by Sondheim is “Children Will Listen”. It is clearly more than a simple ballad. Its characteristic features are vehement variations of tempo and strong heights and depths of pitch. The melody is characterized by almost abrupt succession of drama with softness. But Streisand’s voice is experienced in expressing such songs and it became clear again that she is a song stylist in the truest sense of the word.

About that time she utters the controversial Bush sketch. It is humorous, ironical, but in no sense vicious as the US press reported sometimes. I did not get all of it, but the audience in Boston burst out into a peal of laughter. Storms of enthusiasm followed, the audience had lots of fun with the sketch.

Three songs this evening had not been sung before. The song “Unusual Way”, which is very quiet and very beautiful, is sung with supreme quality of bel canto. I am already looking forward to her next CD so that I can listen to the song again. The song “Cockeyed Optimist”, which is more popular, from the musical “South Pacific” is a rather light and harmless song. In Barbra’s version, however, starting in the middle of the song a hurricane sweeps over it. The orchestra and her voice compete with each other for the best performance in some kind of ecstatic eruption. Marvellous. The applause could not be more frenzied. The third title which was previously not sung before is “Shining Hour”. This is also a song by her favourite composer Harold Arlen. She sings it in a quite simple way and exchanges some words with audience during the song.

I already mentioned two songs after that: “What are You Doing the Rest of Your Life” and “Have I Stayed Too Long at the Fair” – maybe the most beautiful ballads of the evening. With her performance of these, she has undoubtedly created two musical pieces of art; for the time being unmatched and inviolable by any other artist. The pure sound of her voice was all magic. And this performance I will hold in remembrance for the longest time.

Time went by very fast, one could have listened to her for hours on end. With each further song I felt like travelling to another world. The audience was awesome, they acclaimed Barbra Streisand almost as if she was a wonder of the world (in order to illustrate this enthusiasm one fan wrote in a review: she is the eighth wonder of the world!!!). When Barbra wanted to say something after a song and all the applause that followed everyone turned quiet for a moment. In this very moment someone yelled loudly and clearly audible: “I love you Barbra.” She just replied gently: “Oh … thank you.” The way she communicated with the audience this evening was very intimate, warm-hearted and likeable.

Leaving the stage after “Somewhere”, she reappeared on stage after standing ovations and performed the Broadway recapitulation of “Don’t Rain on My Parade” as an encore (a planned encore, certainly)! WOW, what a performance. She outperformed herself! For a last time she rushed over the stage, let her voice sparkle and spray. This last performance was very short and overwhelming. Then she was gone; had just disappeared. She left behind an empty stage and a crowd of 18.000 people, who screamed, cheered and clapped their hands for minutes. We all knew that she had reappeared in her previous concerts and sung the old Chaplin song “Smile” as a last encore. But this time she did not come back to the stage. The lights went on. It was over, really over.

The after-effect of the concert is even greater for me than the joy of anticipation and the great expectations. The costly trip to Boston paid off – and even more than that. Now that I’ve seen Barbra Streisand live, her music and her art have become even more dear and important to me.


Other 2006 Live Concert Pages are here >>

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