Streisand: 2012 Concert Tour

Chicago, Ilinois

October 26, 2012

United Center

Streisand at United Center

(Photo: Chris Sweda)

This page:

Set List

Act One

Il Volo segment:

Barbra:

Act Two

Chris Botti segment:

Jason Gould segment:

Barbra:

Thank you for set list: Scott Brigham, John Van Keulen, Michael Hadley

Roslyn Kind and Streisand in Chicago

(Photo, above by: Walter McBride)

Press Reviews & Photos

Chicago Sun Times Review

 

Barbra Streisand a veteran tour de force at the United Center

By Miriam Di Nunzio

It was pure serendipity that legendary songstress Barbra Streisand began her Friday night concert at the United Center with a gorgeous rendition of “On A Clear Day, You Can See Forever,” the haunting and lovely ballad from the 1965 Broadway musical of the same name. As the lyrics proclaim: “On a clear day/How it will astound you/ that the glow of your being/outshines every star.”

Streisand not only glowed, she was positively luminous in her glittery black ensemble, stylishly longer hair (and almost no makeup), literally ascending from far beneath the stage floor to a thunderous ovation from nearly 20,000 of her closest pals. And outshine every star she did, turning in nearly three hours of song, anecdotes, video clips, political swipes (she is famously Democrat), and guest stars that included the Italian trio Il Volo and the ever-jazzy trumpeter Chris Botti.

The singer endeared herself from the get-go, proclaiming her love for Chicago’s architecture, deep-dish pizza and reminding those old enough to remember that she first played here when she was just 18, at the legendary piano bar/lounge that was Mr. Kelly’s.

Billed as her Back to Brooklyn tour, the evening was filled with nostalgia, from a video montage of photos from Streisand’s childhood, to a “summer 1979” short film featuring her borough neighbors singing the praises of their favorite entertainer, to a special video “birthday card” from Streisand’s son (more on him later), to a loving tribute to the late composer Marvin Hamlisch, whom Streisand first met when he was the rehearsal pianist for the Broadway production of “Funny Girl,” the musical that propelled her to superstardom.

Accompanied by an orchestra, Streisand’s standouts on this night included a stunning turn on the Rodgers and Hart classic “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered,” a poignant “The Way We Were” (using Hamlisch’s original orchestrations), the hugely emotional Jimmy Webb scorcher “Didn’t We?,” and a sizzling, soulful take on Irving Berlin’s “What’ll I Do?” (with Botti on trumpet) that seemed to conjure up the kind of dark, smoke-filled rooms that Streisand played when she was an unknown nightclubber singing for rent money along New York’s endless lounge circuit of the early1960s.

Though the upper register of Streisand’s vocals were just a tad light on two of her most iconic songs — “People” and “Evergreen” — it mattered little. At 70, the singer still possesses one of the most pristine voices in music, a voice that completely and sumptuously envelops a room, even one the size of the cavernous United Center. There is an intimacy and honesty in Streisand’s delivery — a rare treat in this age of lip-synched, overblown concert extravaganzas.

The evening was a family affair, too, as Streisand’s son Jason Gould (from her long-ago marriage to actor Elliott Gould) joined his mother on stage for a duet of “How Deep is the Ocean” followed by a solo effort on “This Masquerade.” Streisand’s younger sister, actress/singer Roslyn Kind, joined her more famous sibling in a rousing counterpoint duet of “Happy Days Are Here Again/Forget Your Troubles, Come on Get Happy” (much like Streisand and Judy Garland once belted out in 1963 on the latter’s television show).

At one point early on, Streisand was accompanied by Il Volo (three young tenors, ages 17, 18 and 19, who possess ridiculously gorgeous voices that belie their tender years) in a lovely duet of “Smile,” the Charlie Chaplin classic that has become a staple for both Streisand and the trio in their concerts. It was the perfect bookend to “Here’s to Life,” a syrupy anthem that came near the concert’s finale, with lyrics along the lines of “having no regrets.” After 50 years in show business, Streisand is all smiles — embracing life, she told her audience, living in the moment, with nary a regret in sight.

Happy days, indeed.

next review

Chicago Tribune Review

 

Barbra Streisand's compelling show at United Center

By Howard Reich

Jason Gould and Streisand in Chicago

Whether or not you consider Barbra Streisand the last reigning diva of a more lyrical period in American pop music, she certainly stands as a symbol of the era that gave us Judy Garland, Ethel Merman, Lena Horne, Dinah Washington, Doris Day, Sarah Vaughan and other inimitable melody-makers.

So a sense of occasion surrounded the United Center on Friday night, when Streisand returned to the same outsized venue she played six years ago in another one of her rare returns to a concert world she always has said she's reluctant to play.

Now, however, Streisand is 70, an age that inevitably involves looking back and taking measure of what has happened. In Streisand's case, that means she remembers personal milestones that most of us shared with her, from films such as "Funny Girl" and "Hello, Dolly!" to pop anthems such as "People," "Evergreen" and "The Way We Were." Say what you will about the sentimental effusions of those songs, they were ubiquitous at a certain juncture in American popular culture and made Streisand a fixture in it.

Listening to Streisand return to these landmarks, and others, said a great deal indeed about the passage of time and, as she says, the way we were. Marvin Hamlisch, a longtime Streisand collaborator and friend, died last August at age 68, and his passing – and the role he played in Streisand's life and art – inspired a key segment of the evening.

More important, you could sense the effects of the flow of time on Streisand's instrument and delivery. Though still sounding remarkably sumptuous for someone her age, or any age, Streisand showed somewhat less vocal heft than before, a bit less tonal sheen. Her voice is thinner on top, huskier on the bottom.

Though she still had huge notes to deliver, she doled them out more sparingly than in the past, tapping her full vocal resources at particular passages and taking care not to squander them. That she punctuated a show than ran more than 21/2 hours (including intermission) with appearances by various guest performers – enabling her to periodically leave the stage and rest – only added to the sense of a great star shrewdly making the most of what she has to give.

Even Streisand's between-song patter referenced the calendar, as in a section of the evening in which she read questions from the audience that had been submitted in advance. One referred to Streisand as a "living legend," prompting her to quip that she didn't mind the term so long as the word "living" were still in it.

Yet all these indications of years gone by made her performance that much more compelling and rendered this concert one of the most satisfying she has given Chicago. If Streisand's work in her prime was, above all, about The Voice – its size, its luxuriance, its silken purity – this time the singer plumbed more deeply into the meaning of the song. Yes, she still lavished plenty of sound on the old warhorses, but the slight grain in her tone, the occasional interruption in a line, even the random errant pitch made her work sound more genuine, vulnerable, meaningful and real. This time, the proceedings were less about The Voice and more about the music.

Because of the inclusion of the aforementioned guest artists, as well as Streisand's periodic costume changes, the evening felt much like a TV variety show of the 1960s, though quaintly so. But the show, which Streisand titled "Back to Brooklyn," so elegantly transitioned between Streisand's segments and those of some dubiously chosen colleagues that the guests seemed like minor irritants rather than major distractions.

From the initial phrases of the opening song, "On a Clear Day You Can See Forever," there was no question that Streisand was fully engaged with the score, the singer bending notes and embellishing lines slightly, showing this was going to be no mere rote recitation of familiar repertoire. Backed by a large orchestra of Los Angeles and Chicago players, Streisand took "Nice 'n' Easy" at an unusually slow tempo, stretching its lines like taffy. The purr she brought to "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered" and the cunningly paced climax she delivered in "Didn't We" – which drew predictable screams from a nearly filled stadium – underscored the degree of vocal and musical control she maintains.

In Hamlisch's "The Way We Were," sung while a montage of photos of Streisand with the composer played on large screens above her, the singer shaped phrases artfully, but with less exaggeration than in the past. Less bombast and narcissism, too, Streisand performing the piece on a decidedly human scale and with palpable melancholy. She clearly sang this one to Hamlisch, and you could feel it.

The autumnal sentiments she expressed in a slow-and-dreamy account of "Here's to Life," which jazz-blues master Joe Williams made a signature back in the 1990s, again spoke to the nostalgic character of much of this evening. And Streisand performed "People" with a surprising degree of intimacy, quite a feat in the cavernous United Center, making the song less a showpiece and more a straightforward declaration.

If Streisand had to include guests to lighten her load and vary the tone of her show, however, there must have been more genuine options than the ones she chose. Imagine a juvenile version of Andrea Bocelli, times three, and you have Il Volo, a trio of bleating tenors who sing every note as if it's the climax of "La Forza del Destino." Trumpeter Chris Botti's pallid impersonation of a jazz musician might not have been quite so offensive if his musical clichés hadn't been bathed in over-reverberation.

Offspring of major performers usually disappoint, but Jason Gould – the son of Streisand and Elliott Gould – acquitted himself remarkably well, considering unavoidable comparisons. Duetting with his mother in "How Deep is the Ocean" and singing solo in "This Masquerade," Gould offered an uncommonly warm tenor that he knows how to use. His tone may have been needlessly breathy at times and his lines encumbered with a few too many melodic ornaments, but the luster of his sound and naturalness of his phrasing were beyond dispute.

Yet did Streisand really need to include guest violinist Caroline Campbell, whose over-amplified, faux-classical noodling would have fared much better as background music in a luxury spa?

For the dramatic peak of the evening, Streisand convened her entire entourage of guests, plus choir, for Leonard Bernstein's "Make Our Garden Grow," from "Candide." The chorale-like simplicity of this work, plus Streisand's unadorned way of delivering it, said a great deal about the artist she has become.

She's not the come-worship-me caricature of a distant past, and her music is the better for it.

Fan Reviews & Photos

Il Volo and Streisand

(Above: Il Volo and Streisand in Chicago — Streisand wore her sparkly sailor suit like the one from her 2006 tour for this segment.)

David's Review

Like the goddess Venus, who emerges from the foam of the ocean, Barbra rose to the stage clad in a black ensemble and greeted the crowd with a glorious rendition of “On a Clear Day You Can See Forever.” She then went on to compare Chicago to her beloved Brooklyn, (food being one of the main staples of the monologue). She fondly recalled the days when she sang in The Windy City many years ago. The evening was filled with nostalgia and reminiscing, at least for me. As she sang “Bewitched” in the first act, I was reminded of when I heard Barbra for the first time on a vinyl album that someone had bought me for my 10th birthday. I immediately fell under her hypnotic spell and have been an ardent fan ever since. Over the past 18 years I've attended many of her concerts including the Millennium Concert in Las Vegas, the 2006 concert in Miami and the 2007 concert in Paris. Now here I was in Chicago and I was overcome with an odd feeling of melancholy. The woman who has been such an important part of my life is now 70 years old. I was faced with a softer Barbra; a Barbra who didn't try to dazzle us, but rather caressed us like a mother singing lullabies to her children to help them overcome their fear of the darkness of the night. Her tribute to Donna Summer rang of loss and when she sang "The Way We Were" and "Through the Eyes of Love" you couldn’t help but feel her sorrow of losing her friend Marvin Hamlisch. Her stunning duet of “Smile” with the three young men known as Il Volo only reinforced too well the idea that we all must be strong when faced with the passing of time.

In the second act, wearing a striking coral colored gown, she sang a few verses of “Guilty” and haunting renditions of “What’ll I Do,” “My Funny Valentine” and an amazing “Lost Inside of You” accompanied by the trumpeter Chris Botti. But what was most revealing to me was to see Barbra the superstar become an ordinary woman as she sat down on the steps of the stage to watch her 46 year-old son Jason sing. (Beautifully I might add). You could sense her immense pride, but there was also an element of where has the time gone. Toward the end of the concert, and once again like a goddess with a chorus of angels, she entreated us to remain optimistic in “Make Our Garden Grow.”

The tour is called Back to Brooklyn, and as a last trip down memory lane, Barbra sang “Happy Days Are Here Again/Get Happy” with her half-sister Roslyn. Somehow going Back to Brooklyn Barbra has come to terms with her own past. She has learned to forgive, she has learned to accept, and she has learned to share. Barbra Streisand is a legend not only as an entertainer but as a human being. She is an example for all of us.  I hope that there will be other concerts in the future but until then I can only reiterate her final words before the curtain came down, “Ah well, we’ll catch up some other time.”

END.

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