Barbra: The Music, The Mem’ries, The Magic
August 9, 2016
- Overture/Video Package
- The Way We Were
- Being at War with Each Other
- Everything Must Change
- Woman in Love
- Stoney End
- Enough is Enough
- You Don't Bring Me Flowers
- Being Alive
- Papa, Can You Hear Me?
Intermission: Lior Suchard (Master Mentalist works his amazing mind tricks on the audience)
- Pure Imagination
- Encore Video Package
- Who Can I Turn To? (with Anthony Newley)
- Losing My Mind
- Isn't This Better?
- How Lucky Can You Get?
- Children Will Listen
- Don't Rain On My Parade
- Happy Days Are Here Again
- I Didn't Know What Time It Was
Intermission videos: Fight the LadyKiller video; Butterfly album commercial; My Name is Barbra commercial.
*Set list reported by: Robert Anen
Barbra Streisand delivers night of empowering songs, stories at United Center
By Bob Gendron
Barbra Streisand arrived at a packed United Center on Tuesday in the mood to chat. The iconic singer, in the middle of a brief nine-city tour, framed nearly every song she performed with a story or three. At work on a memoir, she delved into histories and recollections with scholarly exactness and disarming wit. The obvious spectacle associated with the rare Streisand appearance aside, her personalized approach came across like a hand-held stroll down memory lane.
At 74, the Brooklyn-born star seemingly has nothing left to prove. She's won every major award, received virtually every honor and sold hundreds of millions of records. Streisand even enjoys the exclusive honor of achieving a No. 1 album in each of the past six decades, a feat that inspired the selection of material that filled the first of a two-act Chicago concert as remarkable for what was absent as much as it was for what transpired.
On her previous stop at the same venue in 2012, Streisand surrounded herself with an orchestra. She also leaned on a parade of guest artists that both allowed her to occasionally leave the stage and lessen the demands on her vocals. On this night, save for three female back-up vocalists primarily confined to the background, Streisand did most of the heavy lifting. A 10-piece band further contributed to a stripped-down, direct approach that witnessed the diva change her dress only one time — during intermission between the pair of 55-minute sets. Any rest occurred as she sat on a chair sipping tea, regaling the crowd with anecdotes, reflections and opinions.
Known for liberal views and activism, Streisand couldn't resist praising presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and deriding her opponent Donald Trump. Transcending mere humor, the political commentary bookended three overarching themes — control, independence, hope — coursing through many of Streisand's songs and tales. Speaking about her music career, the vocalist underlined the importance of always being in charge over her work, noting, among other laughable near-mishaps, the record label wanted to title her debut album "Sweet and Saucy Streisand."
"Ask what I want and I will sing/I want everything, everything," Streisand breathily cried on "Everything," refuting any notion of glass ceilings and embracing a can-do feminist spirit. She channeled similar empowering sentiments on "Papa, Can You Hear Me?" — instilling the soul-searching tune with a dramatic blend of trepidation, loneliness and uncertainty before clinching it with a triumphant finish. For a celebratory "Don't Rain on My Parade," she turned up the bravado and delivered words with an assertiveness that doubled as the attitudinal equivalent of a hands-on-hips pose.
While Streisand no longer sounded as if she could overpower a symphony, and contended with a wispier top end, she remained capable of holding prodigious notes and hitting demanding highs. Her signature instrument lacked the reach of its heyday, but claimed more command and nuance. Streisand frequently altered her phrasing within the same verse, employing glissando and improvisation to add color and surprise. She interrupted certain lines and elongated others. Caring little about technical perfection or by-the-numbers replication, she took risks with unexpected flourishes ("Being at War With Each Other"), revealed hints of tonal grit ("You Don't Bring Me Flowers") and infused a series of ballads with delicate vulnerability ("Evergreen," "Isn't This Better").
Streisand also had fun, particularly on a medley of disco-tinted hits that climaxed with "No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)." Offering a lesson for celebrities that lament their popularity, she made clear her love of fame by deeming it "fan-(expletive)-tastic." Her only missteps surrounded "Who Can I Turn To (When Nobody Needs Me)." Advanced with a video that served as an unnecessary plug for her forthcoming album, and executed as a duet via the piped-in voice and projected footage of deceased performer Anthony Newley, the moment stood out as artificial and exaggerated at a show otherwise distinguished by authenticity, honesty and intimacy.
Chicago Daily Herald
Streisand returns to Chicago solo, and she sure can deliver a song
By Barbara Vitello
Nearly four years ago, when Barbra Streisand last played Chicago's United Center, she duetted with three teenage tenors, a saxophonist and her son, Jason Gould.
This time, she soloed.
Turns out, Streisand doesn't need any help to captivate a crowd, which she did Tuesday as part of "Barbra: The Music ... The Mem'ries ... The Magic," her nine-city tour that launched earlier this month in Los Angeles.
Thunderous applause greeted the singer who, at 74, still possesses a lush lower register, superb phrasing and an unequaled hum, which makes up for a slight strain in her upper register (more apparent in the first act), and the occasional intonation problem.
That said, when Streisand lands on a note, by God, she sticks the landing. More to the point, the multi-hyphenate singer/actress/director -- whose career spans 55 years -- knows how to deliver a song.
The concert, as Streisand informed the crowd, was composed of songs from her No. 1 albums over the last six decades. She opened with the crowd-pleasing "The Way We Were," a counterintuitive choice that set up the career retrospective.
"You didn't think I would sing that first, did you?" she teased the rapt crowd, adding, "It's what the evening is about."
The stroll down memory lane featured a medley of hits including Laura Nyro's "Stoney End," "Woman in Love" and the disco-fueled "No More Tears."
A video montage of civil rights demonstrations, anti-violence crusades, war refugees, the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the war in Afghanistan and mass shootings at home accompanied Streisand's version of Carole King's "Being at War With Each Other," which emerged as a powerful plea for peace and tolerance. The singer also expressed her concern about climate change in the sumptuous "Pure Imagination" from the 1971 film "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory," which was paired with nature and wildlife video clips.
The lifelong Democrat shared her views on feminism and politics. She took a few jabs at Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and expressed her desire to see Hillary Clinton elected president.
"Is that too much to ask?" she said.
The first act concluded with the crowd favorite "Papa, Can You Hear Me?" from 1983's "Yentl," Streisand's directorial debut.
But the singer was most formidable in the second act, which boasted superb renditions of Stephen Sondheim's "Losing My Mind," the deceptively simple torch song from "Follies," and "Children Will Listen," the evocative cautionary tale from "Into the Woods." Demonstrating a keen sense of the composer, she suggested an emotional depth and authenticity -- particularly in the former -- to which lesser pop tart vocalists rarely aspire.
The two-hour, 20-minute concert concluded with a triple shot of signature Streisand tunes, beginning with the always rousing "Don't Rain on My Parade." Accompanied by a swinging, 10-piece orchestra conducted by Streisand's longtime pianist Randy Waldman, the iconic number from the musical "Funny Girl" stopped the show. So did the follow-up, "People," still compelling despite the absence of a few power high notes.
Introducing the closing number, Streisand remarked it is one she has sung for three presidents -- John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Baines Johnson and Bill Clinton -- and it's one she hopes she'll "sing for the next President Clinton."
"When there are no glass ceilings left to break, the sky's the limit," she said, quoting a recent Clinton address before launching into a deliciously full-throated "Happy Days" and proving plenty of power remains in Streisand's golden pipes.
- Robert Anen emailed Barbra Archives about the Chicago show:
- "Barbra spoke very fondly of the time she had spent in Chicago over the years, remarking that it was fifty years to the day that she sang at Soldier Field here in Chicago while she was pregnant with her son, Jason. She told a story about shooting the cover of her People album on the Michigan Avenue Beach here and how she had to fight to get the now-iconic photo of her with her back to the camera as the cover of the album though they unfortunately cut off her feet. She also remarked how vindicated she felt when it won the Grammy for Best Album Cover."
- "After the first act ended, we were given roughly fifteen to twenty minutes to ourselves. When the lights dimmed, Barbra came over the loud speakers with a recorded message: “So, the guy who was delivering my deep dish pizza didn’t have the right pass to get back stage. He just got here. So while I’m changing outfits and having a quick couple of bites, I want to introduce you to someone who is really mind-boggling. By that I mean he can actually read minds. We met a few years ago, each time I’m more and more fascinated by how he does what he does. So, please welcome Lior Suchard and I’ll see you in a few minutes.” Lior came on stage and proceeded for ten to twelve minutes with his act. When he was finished he introduced Barbra and the show continued. She began the second act with Pure Imagination, a song that, whenever I heard it, I could hear Barbra singing those words in my head. The opening of that song sums up what a Streisand concert truly is. We went with Barbra into that world of pure imagination; we took a look and traveled into the world of her creation. Before the Encore video package she mentioned how great Lior was and mentioned he could read anyone’s mind except for Donald Trump’s because he doesn’t have one. A man from the rafters then shouted “shut up and sing!” The arena let off a collective groan because everyone heard it including Barbra. She replied “Aww, Republicans I love you too! You can’t please everybody but Paul Ryan just one!” She shrugged it off and continued to speak about Encore."
From the concert's co-director:
Below: At intermission ... this concert-goer captured a photo of the "My Name is Barbra" commercial playing on the big screens.
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