Streisand: 2006 North American Concert Tour
October 4, 2006
- Funny Girl (Broadway) Overture - Bill Ross, Conductor
- Starting Here, Starting Now
- Down With Love
- The Way We Were
- Come Rain or Come Shine
- Ma Premiere Chanson
- Evergreen (with Il Divo)
Il Divo set:
- Unchained Melody
- Unbreak My Heart
- My Way (dedicated to Barbra)
Funny Girl Suite:
- Don't Rain on My Parade
- Funny Girl
- The Music That Makes Me Dance (partial)
- My Man
- People (with "travel single-o" introduction)
RIGHT: Steve Bridges as “George Bush,” posing with Streisand.
- Bill Ross Entr'acte with musical quotes from Funny Girl, On A Clear Day, Prince of Tides
- Passera (Il Divo)
- Music of the Night (Barbra & Il Divo)
- When The Sun Comes Out
- Carefully Taught / Children Will Listen
- Unusual Way
- What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?
- Happy Days Are Here Again (with George Bush impersonator, Steve Bridges)
- Woman in the Moon
- Have I Stayed Too Long at the Fair?
- Cockeyed Optimist (from the musical SOUTH PACIFIC)
- Somewhere (with Il Divo)
- My Shining Hour
Encore: Don't Rain on My Parade (Broadway reprise lyrics)
BELOW: Il Divo and Donna Karan pose backstage with Barbra Streisand.
DRESS REHEARSAL, Tuesday, October 3rd
From Playbill/Diva Talk
By Andrew Gans
Last Saturday I received an invitation that I will probably never be offered again: the chance to attend a Barbra Streisand dress rehearsal at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia, PA. Not only would this be the first time I had ever seen the Academy Award-winning actress perform live, but I was also able to bring five people with me to the by-invitation-only event.
Knowing this would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, I wanted to share the day with some of the people I love most and those who I knew would truly appreciate the experience: my mom, my sister, my sister-in-law, my friend Tod and his mother Joyce. The six of us — some coming from New York, some from New Jersey and one in Pennsylvania — all headed to the 15,000-seat Wachovia Center on Tuesday for the afternoon concert.
The concert was primarily attended by friends and family members of the musicians in the 56-piece orchestra or those working on the concert tour as well as such celebrities as Rob Marshall, Liz Callaway, David Zippel and Donna Karan. And, as we all waited to be let into the theatre on the suitably sunny day, there was true excitement in the air, a feeling that continued to build as we took our seats in the mammoth stadium. Most of the 900 or so attending were seated in the floor section, and my family, friends and I could hardly believe that we were going to have the privilege of enjoying a Barbra Streisand concert from the fourth row.
The set design for the tour, it should be noted, is simple, yet elegant. A few raised pathways with lit handrails encompass the orchestra, and there are three areas where a modest bouquet of roses adorn a small round table and chair.
As the audience anxiously awaited the star's entrance, that aforementioned sense of excitement seemed to transform into a palpable sense of electricity that flowed throughout the arena. At 2 PM the lights dimmed and Richard Jay-Alexander, who, with Streisand, co-directed the concert, made his way onto the stage to welcome the audience. Jay-Alexander joked that Streisand had tired of her "audience of six" and was eager to try out her new show for today's crowd.
The original overture to Jule Styne's Funny Girl — the 1964 Broadway musical that garnered its star her second Tony nomination — began the concert and was greeted with an enthusiastic applause, but the sight of Streisand, who, at 64, remains a striking figure, brought the audience to its feet for the first of many times that day.
Streisand began her concert with Richard Maltby and David Shire's "Starting Here, Starting Now," and I have to admit hearing the sound of her voice live — those lush, rich, golden, rounded tones that seem to magically pour out of her — was surprisingly moving. There have been many singers throughout the years who, intentionally or not, have imitated her sound, but when hearing Streisand live, one quickly realizes there is no substitute for the real thing.
After welcoming the animated crowd, Streisand noted that she hadn't performed in Philadelphia for over four decades, not since she filmed her 1965 television special "Color Me Barbra."
"Down with Love" preceded one of the afternoon's highlights, the Academy Award-winning theme song from the 1973 Streisand-Redford film "The Way We Were." There was a gentle hush as Streisand delivered the opening lines, "Memories light the corners of my mind. . .," and I suspect there was nary a dry eye as she finished the Marvin Hamlisch-Alan and Marilyn Bergman tune on a beautiful sustained, almost ethereal high note.
Before belting out a terrific version of the Harold Arlen standard "Come Rain or Come Shine," Streisand explained why teleprompters are a must for her tours. During her monumental 1967 concert in Central Park, she forgot the lyrics to three songs, and that experience was so "frightening and embarrassing" that she was unable to sing in public for nearly 30 years. "When I performed my fundraising concert in 1986," she said, "by then they had invented the teleprompter. . . . Now I have them in case I have a senior moment!"
One of the many things that struck me during the generous, three-hour concert was the warmth that Streisand exudes onstage. And, not only is she tremendously intelligent — evidenced in both her spoken word and her lyrical interpretations —she is also extremely funny, joking throughout the show, often at her own expense. She drew laughs when detailing all the local food she had sampled in Philly, noting "The only thing I like more than American democracy is eating." When she played a wrong note on the piano — during "Ma Premiere Chanson" — her simple "Oh sh**!" was delightfully down-to-earth, and when a loud sneeze from the audience preceded the final note of a song, her quick "God bless you" drew laughs and applause.
"I Finally Found Someone," a song based on the love theme from "The Mirror Has Two Faces," preceded her best-known composition "Evergreen." As Streisand explained that one of the most enjoyable aspects of writing songs has been hearing other people interpret them, the tour's special guests — Il Divo — joined her for the remainder of that song, which explores "the meaning of one love."
The strong-voiced Il Divo — comprising David Miller, Sebastian Izambard, Urs Buhler and Carlos Marin — joked a bit with Streisand, before taking the stage with five solos: "Senza Catene" ("Unchained Melody"), "Passera," "Regresa A Mi" ("Unbreak My Heart"), "Si Tu Me Amas" and the Sinatra classic "My Way"; the latter was dedicated to Streisand.
As Il Divo began singing The Phantom of the Opera's "Music of the Night," Streisand returned to much applause, joining the four men for a gorgeous version of the Andrew Lloyd Webber tune. Whether she's singing solo or with a group, one can't help be impressed by Streisand's innate musicality. As opposed to today's "American Idol"-type singers who sing three notes for every one, Streisand's simple riff here or gentle lick there seem completely organic and add to rather than detract from the melody.
The first half of the evening concluded with several songs from Funny Girl: the extended, full show version of "Don't Rain On My Parade," the bittersweet title song, a powerful medley of "The Music That Makes Me Dance" and "My Man" (which was added to the film) and, of course, one of Streisand's many anthems, "People." The crowd again jumped to its feet as Streisand's voice soared on the song's climax: "People who need people are the luckiest people in the world!"
The concert's Entr'acte featured a portion of the "Funny Girl" movie score; "On a Clear Day You Can See Forever"; music from "The Prince of Tides"; and the "Yentl" ballad, "Papa, Can You Hear Me?" Streisand then reappeared, singing a glorious rendition of Rodgers and Hart's "Where or When."
The Grammy winner then had some fun with her audience, answering questions from the crowd [those attending the concerts will have the chance to fill out "Ask Barbra" cards prior to each show] and performing a version of the classic Judy Garland-Streisand duet "Get Happy"/"Happy Days Are Here Again" with a special guest star (I won't ruin the surprise).
Streisand then built Harold Arlen's "When the Sun Comes Out" to a thrilling, full-voiced finale. While discussing her "pride and joy," her son Jason, a piece of music he composed for his mother while she was making "Yentl" was played in the background. A wonderful, poignant medley of Rodgers and Hammerstein's "You've Got to Be Carefully Taught" and Sondheim's "Children Will Listen" followed.
One of the most welcome surprises of the afternoon was the inclusion of Maury Yeston's "Unusual Way." Streisand's voice was perfectly suited to the beautiful Nine ballad, and her acting of the song was also impeccable. In fact, it made one long to hear what she could do with some of the more current theatre scores.
"Like the Gentle Rain," performed as a bossa nova, was followed by the Bergmans "What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?," and two early Streisand favorites, "Woman in the Moon" and "Have I Stayed Too Long at the Fair?" followed; the latter was particularly impressive.
Streisand offered the West Side Story anthem "Somewhere" as a "prayer for tolerance, compassion and peace," and was again joined by Il Divo. As the thrilling sound of the five voices and the orchestra swelled to dramatic effect on that Leonard Bernstein-Stephen Sondheim tune, the entire crowd spontaneously rose en masse.
"God, you're a great audience! Can you come back tomorrow?," Streisand quipped before delivering two more songs to the appreciative crowd: "My Shining Hour" and a terrific arrangement of "A Cockeyed Optimist." There was one final encore, but I'll leave that as a surprise.
If I were asked to sum up the afternoon in one word, it would have to be joy. There were tears of joy, joy in people's smiles, joy in watching a performer reclaim the concert stage, joy in sharing this day with my family and friends, and the simple joy of music superbly performed. And, now, Streisand has the chance to spread this joy throughout the U.S. and Canada as she embarks on a two-month tour that will visit such cities as New York, Washington, Toronto, Quebec, Boston, Atlanta, Chicago, Phoenix and Las Vegas.
New York Daily News Review
By Jim Farber
The way she is
Babs proves gabby but still sublime
Many different Barbra Streisands turned up at the star's rather dense new show, which wobbled into Philadelphia's Wachovia Center Wednesday.
During the opening night's 2 1/2-hour expanse, Streisand presented herself as a politician, a comic, a philosopher, a fund-raiser, a memoirist, a satirist, a piano player and, sometimes, even a singer.
No wonder the show - which comes to the Garden Monday and Tuesday - was, by turns, brilliant and bloated, insipid and inspired.
When Streisand sang - just often enough to make the night a prized event - she rarely dipped below the mark of brilliance.
But, as in all three of her most recent road shows, she talked between numbers. And talked. And talked, seldom missing the chance to hobble the momentum with an anecdote (okay) or a message (zzzzz).
First: the good news.
There's a reason one comic has famously likened Streisand's voice to a beloved sandwich spread. Her singing, live as on CD, glows with a tone so luxurious and a texture so rich, you nearly want to burst into song yourself. While many celebrate her lung power - in ample evidence here - it's the girlish beauty of her timbre and the luscious fluidity of her delivery that marvel most.
In her opening tune, "Starting Here, Starting Now," the 64-year-old singer had only to exhale the title lines to conjure urgency and promise. She followed with "Down With Love," which emphasized something Streisand rarely gets sufficient credit for: her wily and inventive jazz phrasing. Here, as in many of the singer's early recordings, she broke up the beat in unexpected ways, singing around the melody to create syncopated quirks all her own. Likewise, in "When the Sun Comes Out" Streisand idealized the tricky rhythm changes that bring the number to an unexpectedly ecstatic close.
Such jazzy drama is key in Streisand's undying show-stopper, "Don't Rain on My Parade," which she performed here twice, the second time with too much verve to seem redundant.
In her 23 songs, Streisand only ventured later than the mid-'70s twice (for pieces from the '80s musicals "Nine" and "Phantom of the Opera"). But she did move beyond the hits. The show included a song from her French LP, "Je M'appelle Barbra," plus one from 1966's "Color Me Barbra," the now age-appropriate "Have I Stayed Too Long at the Fair?"
The orchestra kicked the night off with the "Funny Girl" overture, setting the tone. No fewer than six of that show's songs turned up, most corralled into the night's first half.
Unfortunately, that left Streisand a bit at sea in the second half, where most of the verbal bloat came. She included an interminable, and heavy-handed, skit with a George Bush imitator who insisted on duetting on "Happy Days Are Here Again," ruining one of her most creative arrangements. Fans also had to hear all too much about the glory of children and the importance of peace, prompting one man to furiously yell, "We came to hear you sing!"
The insertion of schmaltz-opera act Il Divo into the proceedings didn't help. The four warbling himbos oiled their way through a quartet of numbers threaded through the night. They also backed up Streisand on a few songs, which succeeded only in turning poignant pieces like "Somewhere" bombastic.
Still, for all the blabby and fatty parts of the night, there's always that elemental Streisand sound to consider. When she uses it to ride the epic peaks in a song like "My Man," there's a radiance that can make listeners forgive her almost anything. Too bad we always have to.
Philadelphia Inquirer Review
A warm and elegant Streisand in Phila.
By David Patrick Stearns INQUIRER MUSIC CRITIC
Is this truly farewell?
The opening performance of what's likely to be Barbra Streisand's farewell, 16-city tour certainly felt that way: Much of last night's sold-out show at the Wachovia Center summed up her 40-plus years in show business, dipping as far back as her mid-1960s nightclub repertoire, progressing to her Broadway show Funny Girl and to movies such as The Way We Were. And then she went for broke.
In the second half, Streisand was fielding questions from the audience when, in a moment of faux spontaneity, she was visited by a particularly keen George W. Bush imitator (real name: Steve Bridges). A longtime Democrat, Streisand quizzed him on various hot-button issues such as global warming, only to have him give glib, breezy answers, like proposing to solve the national debt by selling Canada. "They don't use half of it!" he exclaimed.
Of course, they sang a duet - the one, in fact, that Streisand sang with Judy Garland years ago, blending "Happy Days Are Here Again" with "Get Happy" (the faux Bush filling in for Garland). Much of the audience that paid as much as $750 cheered, but there were also hecklers, one of whom seemed to yell, "Barbra, you stink!"
She took it in stride, reminding the audience that we live in a country where such fun freedom of speech is allowed, and returned to a reflective mood by singing "Have I Stayed Too Long at the Fair" from the TV special Color Me Barbra, which was partly filmed at the Art Museum.
And since she asked the question, has the 64-year-old singer stayed too long? To judge from ticket sales on the tour, cities like New York and Atlantic City can't get enough, while others, only days before the performances, have tickets available at all prices.
Vocally, the opening-night performance raised a red flag or two. Though she sounded splendid in the few bits of the dress rehearsal I caught Tuesday, the marathon of songs she laid out for herself last night sometimes left her voice thin and labored. That's not necessarily her usual vocal state (she was reportedly rehearsing until 11:30 p.m. Tuesday).
Yet at every turn last night, the voice accomplished what she was after, often with greater elegance than before. The older Streisand can make a tiny inflection carry far and say more than many of the great vocal flourishes of old.
Also, the vocal lustre mattered less here, partly because she has rarely generated such warmth and openness. She poked fun at her immoderate eating habits with a litany of area restaurants she had patronized, and admitted that the invention of teleprompters allowed her to return to the concert stage (an explanation that was, of course, scripted on the teleprompters).
Often, performers are only so open and unguarded when the end is truly in sight. And that - more than the luxurious 50-piece orchestra, the stage set (seemingly inspired by the Broadway show Chicago) with tables and platforms arranged around the musicians, plus various interludes by the vocal quartet Il Divo - gave the concert a sense of occasion.
There was a time when her feminist sensibilities would prompt her to avoid songs with retro sentiments such as "My Man." However, the song is indelibly associated with her character in Funny Girl, the comedienne Fanny Brice. And her rendition of the song last night was as compelling - maybe more so - as any she delivered 30-plus years ago.
At times in the past, she has been so classy, so dignified, she seemed like a singing CEO. Not here. She seemingly had nothing to hide and nothing to lose. How often with a major singer and cultural icon do you experience that?
Hollywood Reporter Review
By Frank Scheck
Bottom line: A career-reflective show designed to appeal to her most fervent fans.
For her first tour in 12 years (and, at this rate, maybe her last ever), Barbra Streisand is clearly in a reflective mode. From the "Funny Girl" overture that opens the evening to the resuscitation of numerous older and fairly obscure songs dating back to her early days, the 64-year-old singer is presenting a show that seems more appropriate for the intimacy of a theater than for the vast arenas she's playing.
Of course, Streisand nonetheless manages to make a good portion of the evening soar, thanks to both her iconic presence and a voice that, while it at times sounded a bit weak compared to her younger days, still has the power to thrill. And she seems to have toned down the vocal excesses and flourishes that occasionally have given her performances a mannered quality over the years, investing her renditions with an impressive sensitivity.
She seems determined to head off criticism at the pass. Clad in flattering black outfits, she makes self-deprecating comments about her appearance. For this opening night in Philadelphia, she rattled off a list of famous area restaurants she supposedly visited in lieu of historical attractions, joking, "The only thing I love more than American democracy is eating." (Needless to say, expect the references to be updated depending on the locale.)
And she openly discussed her reliance on the many teleprompters scattered about, explaining that forgetting the lyrics to several songs at her famous Central Park concert led to her abandonment of live performances for decades. Still, the fact that every onstage comment was scripted inevitably gave the show a stilted feeling.
Not that the audience members, who had paid up to $750 a ticket, seemed to mind. They rose for standing ovations on numerous occasions, especially for the singer's trademark numbers.
Most of those, including "The Way We Were," "Evergreen," "People," "Don't Rain on My Parade" and "My Man," appeared in the first half, giving the evening something of a structural imbalance.
On the other hand, it was a pleasure to hear her revive such little-performed songs, many of them theatrical, as "Starting Here, Starting Now," "Ma Premiere Chanson" (for which she took a tentative stab at the piano), the title number from "Funny Girl," a medley of "Carefully Taught" and "Children Will Listen," "When the Sun Comes Out," "Cockeyed Optimist" (from "South Pacific") and "Woman in the Moon."
The pseudo-classical quartet Il Divo showed up periodically to lend vocal support on such numbers as "Music of the Night" and a gorgeous "Somewhere"; they also performed their own multilingual renditions of such pop chestnuts as "My Way" and "Unchained Melody." They also engaged in flirtatious banter with the singer that had the strained air of a Bob Hope variety show sketch.
The show's nadir comes with an ill-advised comic routine between Streisand and a George W. Bush impersonator, culminating with a duet on "Happy Days are Here Again." More than a few audience members made their displeasure with the mockery known.
Streisand seemed a bit ill at ease at times, though she soon warmed up thanks to the audience's fervor. "Gosh, it pays not to tour for a while," she proclaimed. She was at her best at the end in a glorious reprise of "Parade," in which she displayed the playfulness and energy occasionally lacking in the rest of the performance.
Los Angeles Times Review
The girl can't help it
Barbra Streisand had a farewell tour in 2000, but now she's back. Fans just call this one 'fantastic.'
By Robert Strauss Special to The Times
October 6, 2006
PHILADELPHIA — "You never know," said Mary Jonas, clutching a 1964 Playbill for the Philadelphia tryout of what became the Broadway hit "Funny Girl." The program had a smiling 21-year-old Barbra Streisand on the cover. Jonas was 21 then too. "I could get an autograph. She's one mercurial lady, so it might happen. I was there. I am here. So is she."
Fifty gold albums and purported farewell tours and farewell concerts later, the truly mercurial Streisand floated on a cloud of adulation from the likes of Jonas and 16,000 other acolytes here Wednesday night as she began a 16-city, 20-date tour, culminating Nov. 20 at Staples Center.
Surely, the people who came to see Streisand, backed and complemented for about a third of the concert by the Three-Tenorish "popera" quartet Il Divo, were willing to take a chance that their heroine would be formidable. Tickets had face values up to $750. Lines for merchandise were a dozen deep in the Wachovia Center's lobby even an hour before the concert. Programs cost a mere $40, with concert-logo sweatshirts $75 and a leather jacket $375, making the $7.50 draft Bud look like a bargain.
"I walked from the Holiday Inn — free parking," said Bill Matthews, 63, huffing a bit and sipping a $5 diet cola from the concession stand. "Six blocks. Good exercise. Paid $250 for tickets so have to save somewhere."
The crowd may have been well heeled, but it was definitely Philadelphia casual: primarily upper-middle-aged-plus, few ties or dresses anywhere, and rubber-soled shoes dominated. Though "Barbra Streisand Concert Champagne Featured Drinks" were touted with signs at the large lobby bars, beer and nachos seemed de rigueur, and the TVs there often switched to the baseball playoffs from the original vintage Streisand footage.
Still, when the concert began, the crowd was enthusiastic for its diva, cheering most every song and story.
Streisand's staging was as simple and refined as it gets in these days of hockey-arena concerts. The 54-piece orchestra was set in a purple-and-white-lighted pit with three-tiered stairways on either side and in the middle. When Streisand appeared after a rendition of the "Funny Girl" overture, coming from below on a raised platform in the midst of the musicians, she was in an elegant black gown with silver sequins and a relatively demure slit up her left leg. She came to the front, where there was only a cushioned chair and a small table with a tiny flower arrangement. Rosie O'Donnell and Streisand's husband, actor James Brolin, were the only obvious star guests in the house, and even they sat, albeit in the front row, merely in the same cushioned chairs found everywhere on the arena floor.
The concert itself held no surprises. If Ricky Nelson long ago lamented in "Garden Party" that all the fans wanted were the old songs, Streisand, who long has thrived on contrariness, was happy to oblige. There was practically everything popular from "Funny Girl," a Harold Arlen tribute, "The Way We Were," and that evergreen "Evergreen."
The crowd was nearly reverentially silent during Streisand's singing, yet luxurious with cheers and standing ovations throughout the two-hour concert. There was ubiquitous cellphone use throughout — the clicking of phones for either long-distance photos or calls home for a quick listen of a song or two.
Streisand called attention to the huge teleprompter hanging scoreboard-like over what would be center ice. She said she had forgotten the lyrics to three songs during a 1967 concert in New York's Central Park, the freak-out from that causing her to retire from live concerts for 27 years. She was not going to leave that announcement to chance either — even that being up in big letters on the prompter.
She ad-libbed little, mostly thanking the crowd for shouted-out accolades. Her voice was always strong, though her comments were mostly subdued. She had an overly long skit with impressionist Steve Bridges imitating President Bush as a Streisand fan. Bush/Bridges spouted political malapropisms, while Streisand would retort with only mildly denigrating lines about Republicans. They then sang a duet that she had originally done with Judy Garland on TV in the 1960s — Streisand with "Happy Days Are Here Again" and Bush/Bridges goofily soft-shoeing "Get Happy" in a sort of a round.
Otherwise, Streisand's rhetoric was primarily about peace and harmony, prefacing "Somewhere," from "West Side Story," with a line from Bishop Desmond Tutu and reading a long quote from author William Saroyan. She has said that she will donate as much as $10 million of the estimated $90 million the tour will generate to her foundation and other causes, some political, but on stage she said her first donation from the Philadelphia show will go to arts education.
She made no mention, though, of the ticket prices. Her last full-scale tour in 1993-94 had a top price — then considered outrageous — of $350, so this tour more than doubles that. She did, however, offer a simple explanation of why she's on the road again after her two-city, four-night "farewell tour" six years ago. "I love it, and why not?" she said to that question from the audience.
Streisand went out with the World War II Mercer-Arlen ballad, "My Shining Hour," no one in the crowd leaving early. When they did go, they again started buying concert paraphernalia.
"I'm betting this, sure, will be the last time," said Martha Peters, 67, hoisting up her new $40 concert T-shirt. "She's almost my age and still so good. But even for her, enough is enough."
Baltimore Sun Review
As time goes by, Streisand still delivers in concert
By Tim Smith sun music critic
October 6, 2006
"It pays not to tour for a while," Barbra Streisand quipped after being hit with the first roar of an eager 16,000 fans packed into the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia Wednesday night, the start of a 16-city North American tour that reaches Washington next week.
Never mind that folks paid hundreds, even thousands, of dollars in 2000 to catch what was billed as her final public concert performances. Legends have every right to change their minds.
And Streisand, who has sung for the throngs infrequently during her long career, can count on generating intense interest every time and place she decides to take the stage. (Well, almost. A Detroit date was dropped because of sluggish ticket sales, but the rest of the tour is apparently in good shape, box office-wise.)
The impetus behind concertizing this time around is to raise money for her foundation (ticket prices are $100-$750), which supports environmental, health and educational causes. "I guess you could call me a charity slut," she said in explaining the philanthropic part of the concertizing.
Early on in the nearly three-hour show (with intermission), Streisand's voice sounded hoarse and constricted. Her emotional wattage was a shade underpowered, too, during the first half. Even one of her surefire, owned-by-Barbra songs, "My Man," didn't quite get the gooseflesh into full upright position, as you would expect.
But the voice kept getting stronger and warmer as the evening progressed, reaching an incendiary level in short order. She delivered "When the Sun Comes Out" with a vintage punch, sounding, at 64, remarkably like the young woman who lit up that torch song with such startling force in the early 1960s.
With the orchestra playing the overture to Funny Girl and Streisand making her entrance with "Starting Here, Starting Now," it was clear that the night was going to owe a lot to her golden age.
She sang several songs that helped define her as a vocal artist, including "Have I Stayed Too Long at the Fair?" and "What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?" — both phrased with particular nuance and beautifully molded tone.
But this was no mere nostalgic act. Streisand also added to her repertoire, including a moody 1990s ballad by Karen Akers, "Unusual Way," and a gem from South Pacific, "Cockeyed Optimist," that she filled with fresh, stirring relevance for our uncertain world: "I hear the human race is falling on its face and hasn't very far to go. But I'm stuck, like a dope, with a thing called hope, and I can't get it out of my heart. Not this heart."
Her account of "My Shining Hour," another item new for her, was a high point of the evening, the sort of classic ballad she was born to sing. Too bad she wasted time on the forgettable "Woman in the Woman" from A Star is Born.
But questionable choices were minimal. And, all the while, the woman famously prone to stage fright seemed thoroughly at ease and at home. Streisand gave every appearance of enjoying herself up there on the unfussy stage, a series of platforms built around the nearly 60-member orchestra that played sturdily for music director Bill Ross.
She poked fun at herself, saying early on, "I'm not that fat," as if reading minds in the arena. (Yes, she is a little, well, fuller, than the last time she toured, but still like-buttah gorgeous.) And she even handled a heckler with aplomb, the type she anticipated with a laugh earlier: "You know how some of you cringe when I talk about politics."
Of course, the famously left-leaning singer introduced political talk along the way, but with more humor than her detractors might expect, thanks to uncanny President Bush impersonator Steve Bridges.
The faux leader of the free world exchanged good-natured, if overlong, banter with "Babs" (she called him "Dubs"), occasionally setting her straight.("Since you were selected," she said; "Elected," came the reply.)
The two even did a duet together, although the iconic "Happy Days Are Here Again"/"Get Happy" duet she sang with Judy Garland is much too good to be thrown away like this.
The only serious miscue of the show was letting Il Divo, the vacuous popera act, get into the act. This older version of a boy band, without a single distinctive voice among them, chimed in with Streisand on various numbers, walked around the stage to strike male-model poses and performed solo a few times. Allowing these guys to sing "My Way" shifted the concert into cruise-ship level.
In the end, nothing could diminish the raison d'etre of the event. This was Streisand's night. From all the vivid-colored memories of the way she was, to the wonderful new material, the concert reaffirmed how much this singer still has to offer, more than four decades after she first laid claim to being "the greatest star."
Matt (Barbra Archives Webmaster) Review
I am still 'processing' last night's concert. It was quite special. Director Richard Jay-Alexander has given us "Broadway Barbra". She sang mostly 1960s songs, Broadway and standard-heavy. About 3 hours in length. One intermission. All Barbra. Little bit of Il Divo. Two big video screens stage right and left.
Here is a stream-of-consciousness review of last night ...
I started getting heart palpatations when I saw Rosie O'Donnell come into the arena and take her front row seat. I got a little giddy when I saw a crew member place Streisand's tea. It was close to 8pm when the announcer prepared us all for the show. I saw Marty Erlichman come out and hug Rosie and greet people ... I knew showtime was near!
Bill Ross came on the stage — an open platform with four stations of flowers and tea ... obviously Barbra would be sitting at each station. Ross took his place and got the orchestra's attention. Then they played the FUNNY GIRL — Broadway version! — overture. The entire opening was very Broadway — you know how it is when you see a musical in NYC? The age-old traditions of the conductor and overture. Great.
Barbra's entrance from the center, rising platform. Wearing a black beaded sailor dress with a split showing off her leg. OMG! Very "Judy Garland" 1963. Donna Karan-inspired with pockets up front. Smart. Fabulous.
'Starting Here, Starting Now' ... brilliant. One of my favorite Streisand songs ever. And she hits the long NOOOOOOOWWWW note. Wow. I'm in heaven. So is the rest of the arena. Huge standing O.
Barbra does funny monologue, reminiscent of Pearl from Istanbul or Central Park Folk song mono ... she tried to visit historic Philly sites but kept stopping at local eateries. The mention of local restaurant names makes the Philly audience members respond. Good stuff. It's kooky-Barbra.
'Down with Love' ... perfect. Barbra's arms flying like a bird. Bending, contorting like she always does. Sexy. Breathy. Fabulous.
First surprise of the night: 'Ma Premiere Chanson' from JE M'APPELLE. Barbra has a 'senior moment' with her eye glasses as she plays the tune on the piano then joins the orchestra for a full-out version. Brilliant. Simple. Classic.
Il Divo comes out for 'Evergreen'. They do a cheeky variety-show-type skit with Barbra. "I've loved you since I was five." And, "Barbra, one of us has a crush on you." Barbra plays shocked. Then wants to know "Who?". Reassures James (on front row) that everything's okay. LOL.
Il Divo ... great voices, handsome guys. Not my favorite, though. That style of music doesn't work for me ... still, an interesting part of the show.
Barbra reappears for a FUNNY GIRL segment. 'Don't Rain on My Parade'. Broadway arrangement. Barbra looks like she messes up the words and looks to Bill Ross at one point. Looks like she couldn't hear the tempo from Stage Left. No biggie. She handled it just fine. Big finish. Does that 'MYY-EYE-EYE PAAARRADDE" finish. Then 'Funny Girl'. Wow. Incredible vocals here. 'When you're a funny girl.... The fella said a fun-eee-ee girl..." 'My Man' is excellent. Then, sitting on the steps ("I hope you can't see up my dress"), she sings the "we travel single-o" intro to 'People'.
End of Act 1. Take a breather. Streisand was sounding great. The show looked great. Nice open stage. Lots of audience members calling out to her. The sound was kind of funky. Had a hard time hearing Barbra's spoken patter. Although the sound on the singing vocals was most excellent. Barbra had a hard time hearing the audience shout-outs.
Act 2. Il Divo comes out and sings a song. Then ... begins "Music of the Night". I think, "Um, Barbra sang this on BACK TO BROADWAY." Right I was. Barbra joins them. Second verse. Wearing empire-waisted black, gold-trimmed Karan gown. Perfect. Gorgeous. Hits that amazing "music of the NII-IIIGHT" note. Il Divo and Barbra sound best together on this song, IMHO.
Entirety of Act 2 was overwhelming in a good way. Hard to keep the order of songs straight in my mind. Still amazed that the show is turning out to be Barbra-centric. For some reason I thought she'd be 'taking it easy' ... nope. She's the star. As she should be.
'Sun Comes Out'. Ross seemed to rush her at the beginning of the song. Think she was going to say something, but the music starts. No worries. She's excellent. Again, amazing notes at the end. Barbra is 64???? Um, more like ageless and evergreen. Know what I mean?
'Carefully Taught' with 'Children Will LIsten'. Good moments. I like this arrangement better than the '94 version she did in London. Moving. The parent/child thing .... good words. Right before this, Barbra shows a Jason Gould photo, speaks about being a parent. Orchestra plays Jason Gould composition written for Barbra when she was filming YENTL. She is obviously proud. The full orchestra version is beautiful. Nice, personal touch.
'Unusual Way'. Second surprise of the night! Barbra's version was contemplative and deep. Liked this one a lot. She's acting it. (Who's she singing about?? )
Q&A with the audience. Hilarious bit. Seemed to be real, not staged. A couple of people in the audience screamed when Barbra read their seat section from the card. Great idea. Barbra's scripted joke ("I fire everyone to the RIGHT") was HI-LAR-I-OUS. Another LOL moment.
Bush impersonator skit .... Hmmmm. Not sure about this. Being a Washington D.C. resident, agreeing with most of Barbra's politics, I enjoyed it and laughed. "I'm concerned about the national debt, so I'm selling Canada," the faux-Bush said. And "If I cared about the polls, I would have run for president of Poland." Laughs from the audience. Best bit was song suggestions for a duet together: "What Kind of Fool" ... "Guilty" ... "Enough is Enough". Hilarious! I'm worried about how this will play in ,say, Ohio. Barbra acquired a heckler after this. No big deal. He shouted out a couple of times from stage right side area. Reportedly, he said, "I came to hear you SING!" Barbra handled it well. Noticed people leaving their seats at this point. Popcorn? Hot dogs? Or Republicans? It was brave. She went for broke. I was proud. Curious though.
'Woman in the Moon'. Inspired. Not as "rock" as the soundtrack album. But it was the third big surprise of the night. Who'd have thunk she'd unearth this treasure?? One of the few post-1970 songs sung this evening. (Friends with binocs tell me Rosie was singing along.)
'Stayed Too Long at the Fair'. Hmmmmm. So many 60s songs. I'm loving this. Was honestly very touched by this one. Barbra said she was "too young" to sing it in the 60's. She brings newfound interpretation to the lyrics as the woman she is today. Only time all evening I can remember people applauding after she hits a grand note ("have I stayed too long at the faaaa—iiiirr....") in the midst of the song. Really a great performance.
'Cockeyed'. I don't know this song. So I responded less than other audience members who really enjoyed it. Big finish. Nice. New. I'm diggin' it.
'Somewhere'. Again, Il Divo works really well here. Barbra sings harmony. Nice. New. Big note at the end. Damn, she's still got it.
'My Shining Hour'. Sweet. Nice message. Barbra recites a William Saroyan excerpt from The Time of Your Life that makes me cry.
No, wait, Barbra looks to William Ross. She's coming back. Oh my.
Slowly ... "I'll march my band out ...."
OMG. She's singing the FUNNY GIRL Broadway finale. The 'Parade' reprise. 'Just give em hell, Brice.' Except she says, "Girl" instead of "Brice". This is simply inspired. I sense that Barbra is proud of her FUNNY GIRL legacy. To end with the reprise .... brilliant. Barbra, sans shoes, is running across the stage. I have a vision (!!) of being in the Winter Garden theater and seeing Barbra do this on Broadway. Except I'm not. It's 2006 and Barbra is leaving us with this final song ... To me, Barbra will always be 'Don't Rain on My Parade'. Theme song. Spunky. Defiant.
The audience feels they can lure Streisand back out if they applaud loud and hard. The lady next to me says, "we can bring her back out." It's like a weird PETER PAN (clap for Tinkerbell) moment. LOL. But the lady is correct. The audience-thunder in the arena makes Barbra come back out ... with her doggie. She thanks us. Then disappears again.
An incredible night. I'm happy I spent the evening with "Broadway Barbra". She was funny, relaxed, spontaneous. Warm. In great voice.
Thanks, Barbra. I enjoyed it. A lot.
Review by Doug Fotia
Barbra Streisand w/Il Divo Philadelphia, PA 10/4/06
I was happy to hear earlier this year that Barbra would tour again even though I was skeptical about whether she would be invested in it emotionally. I wondered if she could get her voice in shape, put together something of artistic worth and was nervous about the news that Il Divo would be joining her onstage.
On Wednesday night, I joined thousands of fans eager to hear her in the city of Independence, at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia. Upon arriving, the set looked simple and lovely, bathed in lavender, shades of purple, with stools set up in three or four different locations around the stage, reminding me of the “One Voice” concert from 1986. Bill Ross began conducting the orchestra at about 7:58pm to the familiar tunes of the Funny Girl Broadway overture from 1964 and at it’s climax, Barbra appeared, rising from the center with a simple spotlight shining down on her, the audience standing and cheering in ovation. After what seemed to be a slight sense of awkwardness on her face over the grandiosity of the entrance itself (she seems very in touch with her humanity these days) and a quip to fan Rosie O’Donnell who was in the front row – ‘I think I can hear you already,’ she started the set with ‘Starting Here, Starting Now’ and we were off on a musical journey that seemed to cover her early career in the 1960’s, almost as if she had been inspired by watching the recent release of her TV specials from the same era. “Down with Love” quickly followed, along with Streisand classics, ‘The Way We Were,’ “Evergreen (sung w/Il Divo)” and a string of Funny Girl songs including ‘Don’t Rain on My Parade’ and of course, ‘People,’ which closed the first act. She was relaxed, totally in the moment, appearing to enjoy the interaction with the audience. She rarely appeared to use the teleprompter and in many of her best moments musically, like ‘Ma Premiere Chanson,’ ‘An Unusual Way’ and “What Are You Doing The Rest of Your Life,’ often kept her eyes closed, as if guided by the personal emotion and memories the songs elicited for her – nothing short of exquisite.
Act II began with the orchestra segueing into familiar strains from her films, Funny Girl, Yentl, The Prince of Tides and On a Clear Day You can See Forever. Strangely enough, Il Divo took the stage at the end of this Entre Act, singing for a short while until joined by Streisand herself during the song ‘The Music of the Night,’ arranged almost exactly like the 1993 ‘Back to Broadway’ album version. ‘When the Sun comes Out’ followed, sung with so much fervor that it might as well have been her opening number to the second act, many fans including myself standing and cheering at it’s conclusion. Personal comments, convictions and beliefs seemed to guide the rest of the set, “Carefully Taught/Children will Listen,” “Cockeyed Optimist,” and for me, the surprise delight of the evening – ‘Woman in the Moon,’ from the film ‘A Star is Born.’ A George Bush impersonator (Steve Hedges) joined her in a duet of ‘Get Happy/Happy Days are Here Again’ and critical banter about [his] politics, leaving many delighted and some annoyed as Barbra insisted that they sing one of her other duets – ‘… how about ‘What Kind of Fool,’ ‘Guilty’ or I know… Enough is Enough!’ This skit went on a bit too long and I felt nervous thinking that time on the Barbra meter was running out, after all, we were getting close to her being on stage 90 minutes at this point. Close to the end of the act and concert, she sang ‘Have I stayed too Long at the Fair,’ with lyrics obviously more relevant to her than when she sang the song at the beginning of her career and perhaps the best vocal ‘belt’ of the night (several members of the audience clapped as she hit the note). Il Divo briefly joined and then left her (to the delight, I surmise, of many fans) after a beautifully sung ‘Somewhere,’ Streisand finally leaving the stage initially with the song ‘My Shining Hour,’ and a reading of William Saroyan’s ‘The time of your life.’ Fans cheered as she returned with a rousing reprise of ‘Don’t Rain on My Parade’ from the finale of the Broadway play ‘Funny Girl.’ Streisand invested herself into the message and rhythm of the song, even kicking her legs a la Rockette style and dipping and weaving her arms and body at it’s finale, the audience on their feet and remaining so even after she left the stage, some fans in the arena stomping their feet in hope of her return. She did in fact return, to tell the audience how ‘brilliant’ they were, with her little dog Samantha in her arms and then soon left for a final time. I noticed a stage hand had just come onto the stage to remove the main microphone, appearing to communicate to conductor Bill Ross with a look that there would not be another song - it did indeed appear as if Ross was prepared for this and it is likely in future concerts she will indeed sing another song.
At the concert’s conclusion, I contemplated mixed feelings, mostly regarding the choice of songs, which seemed to position her in the past, playing to what she may have believed were the crowd’s preference, the net effect at times being, [gulp], like a Vegas act. At the beginning of her career, it was almost unusual for a young singer like her to perform songs by Harold Arlen or Rodgers and Hammerstein – now in her later years, singing standards similar to these seem to age her. Missing were songs I hoped to hear and never sung live, like ‘Memory,’ ‘Songbird,’ ‘The Way He Makes Me Feel,’ ‘Smile’ and ‘Letting Go.’ Miss Streisand should know that a great many of her fans enjoy her contemporary catalogue and those who have seen her in the past don’t need to hear often repeated standards like ‘People’ or ‘The Way we Were’ each time she sings live. Vocally, she was consistent, never failing to hit a note, at times seeming to hold back on belting some high notes, perhaps ‘covering’ them, every once in awhile letting go like in ‘Have I Stayed Too Long at the Fair.’ I suspect that the rigor of the tour will only improve the flexibility and stability of her voice, bringing it closer to the level it was at during her 1994 concerts.
When I saw her last “Timeless” concert in New York City in 2000, it appeared that she was more relaxed and casual than in 1994, when her sense of perfectionism and brilliance appeared to dominate the performance. During ‘Timeless,’ it seemed as if her need to relax and feel comfortable brought her sense of attentiveness down a bit too much, she appeared at times as if she was ‘walking through’ the performance. This evening at the Wachovia Center, she accomplished something different – a high level of comfortability and openness and a high level of attentiveness in the performance – Barbra, please don’t make this tour your last.
Jump Menu Navigation ...
1960s Live Performances:
1970s & 1980s Live Performances:
1990s & 2000s Live Performances: