Barbra: The Music, The Mem’ries, The Magic
November 27, 2016
- Overture/Video Package
- The Way We Were
- Being at War with Each Other
- You Don't Bring Me Flowers
- Woman in Love / Enough is Enough
- Being Alive
- Children Will Listen
- Papa, Can You Hear Me?
- Pure Imagination
- Who Can I Turn To? (with Anthony Newley)
- Losing My Mind
- Isn't This Better?
- How Lucky Can You Get?
- Don't Rain On My Parade
- Happy Days Are Here Again
- I Didn't Know What Time it Was
NOTES ON THE SHOW
- In the first act, Barbra came out wearing a black Stetson hat and said "Howdy H-town!"
- Famous Texans in the audience tonight. George and Barbara Bush, and also director Robert Rodriguez and George Foreman.
- Evergreen — Barbra showed the cut scene from A Star is Born in which she strums the song on her guitar.
- Barbra said this was her first time in Texas, and that she wanted to eat barbecue from Killens, which she was having after the show.
- Barbra brought out Sammie for the encore.
[Thanks to Tom Rubeck and Michael Banyai for the set list info!]
Barbra Streisand Wows 'Em In Her First Ever(!) Houston Appearance
By Pete Vonder Haar
In Googling her name during the afternoon NFL games conducting strenuous research into Barbra Streisand's career, it dawned on me that not only was Sunday night's Toyota Center stop the legendary performer's only Texas date on her "The Music, The Mem'ries, The Magic" tour, but it would also be her first tour stop in Houston over the course of her 50+ year-long career.
As if we didn't have enough of an inferiority complex.
Streisand confirmed this (which would have saved me some trouble) when she emerged on Sunday night in a black cowboy hat, welcoming the audience to her first ever Texas date (take that, Dallas!). She also said this was her first time in Houston after greeting us with "Howdy, H-Town!" She even claimed she'd be making a visit to Killen's BBQ, so keep your eyes peeled in Pearland.
The next two and a half hours were Streisand's chance to offer a retrospective of what has been, by any qualitative measure, one hell of a career. She's one of only a handful of performers to have won an Oscar, an Emmy, a Grammy, and a Tony (an honorary one, but still). Streisand walked the audience through her acting roles in Funny Girl and A Star is Born (with accompanying Kris Kristofferson chest hair footage), her directing career (Prince of Tides, Yentl), and her long history of collaborations with the likes of everyone from Stephen Sondheim to Jamie Foxx.
And while there were the expected hits ("Evergreen," "The Way We Were,") Streisand also reached back into her "trying to be hip in the 70s" phase with the disco two-fer of "Woman In Love" and "No More Tears (Enough is Enough)," her duet with Donna Summer. They, like just about every other song, was warmly received.
"Just about"? Well, yeah. Streisand is unabashedly liberal, and drew a smattering of boos when, while discussing her career, she said she the one thing she reallt wanted was to see a woman in the White House. There was also some muttering during the video presentation during her cover of Carole King's "Being at War With Each Other," which depicted protests from the Vietnam War on up to Black Lives Matter. I heard one person making the reliably idiotic comment about entertainers needing to stick to entertaining. This before singing along with half the songs.
I'm not sure how to navigate the cognitive dissonance that comes from claiming to be a fan of someone while maintaining ignorance of their (decidedly overt) political leanings. And this after Streisand made a point of introducing several notable Houstonians in the audience, including George Foreman, Johnson Space Center director Ellen Ochoa, and George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush, saluting the former President's spirit of bipartisanship and Mrs. Bush's outspokenness and efforts to promote literacy. What a pinko monster.
Streisand's long time avoidance of the Lone Star State was likely less one of deliberate neglect and more a result of the stage fright that's plagued her entire career. To that end, and though it wasn't easily visible to a good chunk of the crowd, a large Teleprompter hung from the rafters of the Toyota Center, helping
Streisand's visit was long overdue, and probably the last we in Houston will get a chance to see. Show tunes may be "timeless," as Streisand put it, but her kind of career was rare to begin with, and is even more difficult to pull off now.
Personal Bias: After Neil Diamond, Barry Manilow, and Tom Jones, I was just trying to complete my Concerts By People Your Parents Listened To superfecta.
The Crowd: Here's where I'd make a joke about skipping The Walking Dead only to find myself among them, but it was a long weekend.
Overheard In The Crowd: Overserved Lady: "This drink is too sweet. Could you add some sweet and sour to it?" Bartender: "That's...not how sweet and sour works."
Random Notebook Dump: "Is Sammy her son?" Later: "Oh, it's a dog."
Barbra Streisand graces Houston with her voice for the first time
By Joey Guerra
Barbra Streisand leaves little room for error when she's onstage.
Her Sunday night show at Toyota Center was an exercise in perfectionism. Tasteful tea sets sat on tables. Flowers were tastefully arranged. A waitress in a black apron refreshed the tea during intermission.
Streisand herself clicked on an electric candle during the introduction to "Papa, Can You Hear Me?" from "Yentl."
A large teleprompter hung above the audience halfway across the floor. Every song lyric, anecdote and aside scrolled by, including Streisand's reference to Killen's Barbecue in Pearland.
It was endearingly quirky but left no room for spontaneity. But you don't attend a Streisand show for surprises. She sang every anticipated song and hit every expected talking point. It was less concert and more theatrical revue: "Streisand: My Life in Songs, Movies and Album Covers."
She sang beautifully, and a throaty rasp added depth and character to her voice. She talked politics and climate change, made grandma jokes about cell phones social media. ("A tweet was what a bird does.")
"I did want to see a woman in the White House. I think it will happen one day," she said amid cheers and a loud, single boo.
"It's not about male or female. It's simply who is the best person for the job"
This was Streisand's first time in Houston and in Texas, which she said she'd only seen "in the movies and on TV." She strutted onstage in sequins, a black cowboy hat (which she quickly removed) and uttered "y'all" a couple of times before sliding into "The Way We Were."
She acknowledged several familiar faces in the crowd, including legendary boxer George Foreman, film director Robert Rodriguez and President George and Barbara Bush, who sat near the top of the venue and earned a standing ovation.
The set list spanned her six decades of No. 1 albums, an astonishing feat that includes this year's "Encore: Movie Partners Sing Broadway." She saved "People" and "Don't Rain on My Parade" for the end, of course, though almost every song drew a standing ovation.
The Carole King-penned "Being at War With Each Other" was accompanied by past and present images of civil injustices. You could hear the crowd sniffle during "You Don't Bring Me Flowers." And she ably handled the disco grooves of "Woman in Love" and "No More Tears (Enough is Enough)."
She soared on Broadway classics "Being Alive" from "Company," "Children Will Listen" from "Into the Woods" and Act I closer "Papa, Can You Hear Me?"
It's been said time and again, but Streisand is still very much, in so many ways, like buttah.
Barbra does Houston: Streisand talks BBQ, gets a little political, and sings her heart out in first Texas concert
By Clifford Pugh
At 74, Barbra Streisand still knows how to put on a show.
In her first-ever visit to Texas, the legendary diva thrilled a near-capacity Toyota Center crowd that included celebrities and everyday fans who shouted the name of her dog (Sammie), cheered her hometown (Brooklyn), and gave her a warm welcome, despite a smattering of boos when she said, "There is one thing that I really wanted really badly, I did want to see a woman in the White House."
Soon after the scheduled 8 p.m. Sunday start time of her The Music...The Mem'ries...The Magic! tour, Streisand appeared promptly on stage in a black lace pants outfit and black cowboy hat, proclaiming, "Howdy, H-Town; it's nice to be here." For the next two-plus hours, she mixed songs from each of her No. 1 albums over the past six decades, including such hits as "The Way We Were," "Don't Rain on My Parade," "Evergreen," "You Don't Bring Me Flowers," and "People," along with such lesser-known jewels as "Being Alive," "Losing My Mind," and "Children Will Listen."
Even if she didn't hit every high note perfectly, she still showed remarkable range of depth and spirit as she took the audience, many who were in their formative years when she first burst on the scene in the 1960s and '70s, on a trip down nostalgia lane. Along the way, I came away with these observations.
Streisand has star power
A recent New York magazine article about singers whose voices have conquered the ravages of time noted that Streisand "has deployed a perfectionist's technique, which allows her to regulate the air that passes through her pampered larynx with unequaled control. Her power lies in her breath, her timing, and the way she doses her energy."
In the Houston concert, Streisand certainly used her energy to maximum efficiency, with chatty explanations for each song that gave concertgoers insider information while providing her a little more time to get ready for the next song. Graphic visuals of album covers and film clips from such hits as A Star Is Born and Funny Girl complemented each song while reinforcing the notion that the audience was in the presence of a real star.
In addition to the excellent big-screen graphics, Streisand was surrounded by a large orchestra and three back-up singers, which added to the evening's special aura.
Streisand is ready for some barbecue
The singer told the crowd that she planned to sample some "good barbecue" while in Houston. "I've heard about a place called Killen's, is that right?" she said to wild applause. She added she was eagerly looking forward to a meal of ribs, creamed corn and other side dishes after the show.
Streisand is a political animal
While she didn't dwell too much on politics, Streisand did make her feelings known about climate change and the presidential election. "Here's my point, it's not about male or female. It's simply about who is the best person for the job," she said. And she encouraged young girls to keep dreaming because the time will come when there is a woman president.
Her comments drew huge applause, along with a few boos, which seemed a little odd to me as Streisand has never hidden her political beliefs, so why would anyone expect her to be silent this time?
Streisand also lavished praise on former President George H.W. Bush and wife Barbara, who were in the audience. She noted the couple will celebrate 72 years of marriage in January and lauded the former president's heroism, humility and bipartisanship. She also saluted Barbara Bush for her work on literacy and for speaking her mind on a variety of subjects.
The singer then switched the subject to album covers, noting that a bump on her nose was removed on her The Way We Were cover in 1974. "See my nose. It's not mine," she said, referencing the oversized album cover behind her. "Who took it out? The record company? The art director? I mean if I wanted a nose job, I would have called a couple of doctors, not a retoucher. I've been very successful with that bump. We've been through a lot together, that bump and I. God makes you a certain way and that's the way I should stay."
Streisand can draw a crowd
In addition to the Bushes, Streisand singled out George Foreman, Johnson Space Center director Ellen Ochoa, and Austin film director Robert Rodriguez and his mother, along with Streisand's longtime manager Marty Erlichman.
Streisand made the Teleprompter her own
Though she suffers from stage fright that has kept her from performing live during her career, Streisand seems to have overcome that fear in her later years. She seemed naturally at ease on the Houston stage, even joking that she was supposed to stand on one song, rather than sit. "I haven't done this show since August," she said. (The Houston concert is part of an extended tour that will also take Streisand to three Florida cities in the next week. She reportedly told Erlichman that she wanted to play in a few cities she hadn't been to before.)
A oversized Teleprompter that hung from the arena ceiling might have given Streisand more confidence, as it contained her entire script for the evening, including song lyrics in capital letters. While she occasionally added some impromptu comments, she stuck to the script pretty much word-for-word the entire evening.
Below: Barbra speaks with 41st President of the United States George Bush and Barbara Bush backstage in Houston. They were personally invited to the show by Barbra.
Tom Rubeck's Review
Barbra Streisand’s first foray into the Lone Star State was amazing success, as she was in top form and greeted by a very enthusiastic audience. Strolling onstage as the massive video screen at the back of the stage split open, she was sporting a black Stetson cowboy hat, which the crowd ate up. “Howdy! Howdy, H-town!”. I think she was delighted that so many of us there really were encouraged and supportive to have her perform in our state, and so she gave it her all.
This first concert of the secondary part of her 2016 tour remained pretty much the same as the earlier incarnations, with a few slight tweaks. It’s no surprise to any fan that Barbra is the type of artist who is always trying things differently to see what she thinks works best. She had added the deleted scene of “Esther” playing the guitar from “A Star is Born”, and after telling the audience how a director likes to cut to move the story, even asking director Robert Rodriguez in the audience if he agreed, she began singing “Evergreen”. It was a nice idea, although she also seemed like she was still testing this out, mumbling at the end, “we’ll have to fade out the film earlier…”
Another small change was the ending of “Papa, Can You Hear Me”, (or at least from what I recall from when I saw the show in August in Philadelphia.) Towards the end, they switched to the ending of “A Piece of Sky”, and the stage lighting was fierce and dramatic. It really popped, and was a great way to end Act One.
As well, towards the end of Act Two, she sauntered up to the piano, and sang the first half of “People” with only her voice and that piano. It was delicate, and nice, and the arrangement was very different at one point, making the singing of this familiar song seem really new.
Of course, this being her first concert post-election, a lot of us wondered what she would say and how she would handle the fact that her candidate, Hillary, had lost. Especially since Houston tends to run Republican. But she handled it with grace and elegance, and even though there were (mainly) cheers and a few boos, she quickly pointed out that her main contention was for the right person to be in office, and that young girls never stop dreaming. As well, at the end of the night when she sang “Happy Days are Here Again”, her politics were sparse, saying only what she has said before, “tonight there are no blue states nor red states, but the United States”. Everyone could agree with that, and the applause was thunderous.
So, how was her voice…? In a word: perfection. Her taking off a few months was a good thing, because for the entire first act and most of the second, there was not one shred of rasp in her voice. She was clear as crystal, hitting sounds that bore no resemblance to her age and instead sounding like the younger Barbra. She was stellar.
Now, to be honest, the concert wasn’t perfect. The “director” in her came out. She made several comments about things in the show: “Jeff, could you go back to that other picture?” “Oh, I’m not supposed to sit at this part. I haven’t done this since August.” And then after they played the Encore promo film, she turned to the audience and asked, “I don’t know how the sound is out there, but…. could you understand what they were saying? I couldn’t understand what they were saying from up here…” She also tended to really seek help from the lower teleprompters a lot. BUT…..
And this is a big but….
NONE of this mattered when she got in her “Barbra mode” and sang her heart out on such songs as “Losing My Mind”, “I Didn’t Know What Time is Was”, “Being at War with Each Other”. And “You Don’t Bring me Flowers”, where are one point she spoke some of the words, and really seemed hurt… She acted the hell out of these songs, and THIS was the Barbra we all love and adore.
No one can sing/move/act/soar/cuddle/sell/perform a song like she can. And watching her in concert I was reminded of all those early performance films of hers that I saw as a kid…and was floored that I had the privilege to experience new greatness, deep in the Heart of Texas.
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