Barbra: The Music, The Mem’ries, The Magic
August 18, 2016
- Overture/Video Package
- The Way We Were
- Being at War with Each Other
- You Don't Bring Me Flowers
- Woman in Love
- Stoney End
- Enough is Enough
- Children Will Listen
- 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?
- Don't Rain On My Parade
- Happy Days Are Here Again
- With One More Look At You
Intermission videos: Fight the LadyKiller video; Butterfly album commercial; My Name is Barbra commercial.
Streisand at Verizon, still in one-of-a-kind voice
By Nelson Pressley
“This is what the evening is about,” Barbra Streisand said Thursday night to a packed Verizon Center crowd as she began crooning “The Way We Were.” Streisand’s well of deluxe ballads is bottomless, and she eased through many of them — “People,” “Evergreen,” “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” — in an easygoing concert that proved her singular voice is still sturdy and captivating.
As a singer — only one of the hats the actress-film director-superstar has worn during one of the great American showbiz careers — Streisand has always been a natural: sure pitch, fabulous dynamism, brilliant rhythm, one-of-a-kind tone. At 74, Streisand’s voice is darker now, with a touch of rasp. She wears these marks of time frankly, and often beautifully. She still spins out long, lovely phrases and frames lyrics precisely; songs make more literal and emotional sense when sung by Streisand than when sung by almost anyone else.
These well-polished skills made Thursday’s low-key concert mostly satisfying, even with Streisand settling in for leisurely conversational sidebars about topics as diverse as her album covers and Hillary Clinton (Streisand’s a big fan). Her fabled perfectionism, she said during one chatty aside, even led her to ask Apple chief executive Tim Cook to get Siri to pronounce her name right: Strei-sand, not Strei-zand.
“If you don’t ask, you can’t get, right?” she said.
The patter was ultra-casual, even when she parried with fans yelling their adoration from the darkness; as concerts go, this 2 1/2 -hour stretch was not a bolt of lightning. (Streisand’s rare current mini-tour comes in advance of next week’s CD release “Encore: Movie Partners Sing Broadway,” featuring show-tune duets sung with an unexpected lineup that includes Alec Baldwin, Chris Pine and Melissa McCarthy.) The simple decor was impeccable, though, from the small floral arrangements and teapots stationed around the stage to the big-screen video guiding us down Streisand’s memory lane.
Her activist streak beamed through during Carole King’s “Being at War With Each Other,” backed by video of civic strife from the 1970s to right now, and during the “Willy Wonka” song “Pure Imagination,” accompanied by a warning message on climate change. Streisand leaned earnestly into the King tune, something she didn’t do during a medley of pop hits “when I was trying to be hip in the 1970s.” The upbeat mash-up of “Woman in Love,” “Stoney End” and “No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)” should have been a high point, but for once the diva seemed disinterested.
The “Yentl” hymn “Papa, Can You Hear Me,” on the other hand, got a splendidly soulful reading to wind up the first act, with Streisand easily navigating the melody’s rising and falling steps. The singing was velvety and smooth throughout “Evergreen,” and some of her trademark electricity shot forth as she surged into “Don’t Rain on My Parade.”
And do you want to hear Streisand sing “Happy Days Are Here Again” in the lilting, inspiring way she sang it for JFK, LBJ and Bill Clinton? Of course you do.
The one big wrinkle was the 10-piece band (with three backup singers) that relied too heavily on keyboards to create orchestral sweep and big-band snap. The chronic hazard with Streisand is sudden rushes of sap and saccharine, and that’s only exacerbated when the sound supporting her grows tinny and synthetic.
The upside, especially for the acolytes in this devoted crowd, is how present Streisand remains onstage: how fully, quirkily herself she is, and how she still delivers songs with inimitable style.
The Baltimore Sun
Streisand delivers the vocal goods in Verizon Center concert
Barbra Streisand performed her "Barbra - The Music... The Mem'ries... The Magic!" tour to the Verizon Center Thursday night.
By Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun
Joking that she wanted to revisit highlights of her career before her "memories become misty and water-colored," Barbra Streisand took the crowd at the Verizon Center Thursday night on a journey through her nearly six decades of song and cinema.
It was not the most coherently organized exercise in nostalgia, and some of the side trips didn't add much to the experience. But none of that mattered. Considering how superbly Streisand sounded, she could have owned the place singing the alphabet.
At 74, the voice remains ageless. Few pop vocalists achieve that consistency, let alone back up the vocal steadiness with so much interpretive power.
Throughout Thursday's performance of "Barbra: The Music…The Mem'ries…The Magic" program -- each half lasted about an hour -- Streisand's timbre was as golden and vibrant as ever, her pitch dead-center, her breath control still impressive (if not as endless as back in the day). The little crackle in the voice that started to appear a decade or so ago, primarily on heated high notes, popped up occasionally here, but didn't detract at all.
And when Streisand dived into a great melody and grabbed hold of a potent lyric, nowhere more compellingly than in "Losing My Mind" from Stephen Sondheim's "Follies," it was as if we were all back in the 1960s again.
That Sondheim song, new to Streisand's repertoire, will be included among the bonus tracks on a "deluxe edition" of her forthcoming "Encores" album. The regular version features duets with a starry roster of actors who sing ("and some who don't," as Streisand quipped on Thursday).
For her current concert tour -- Washington was No. 8 on a 10-city itinerary -- that album gets its share of plugs. A couple of the artists who teamed with Streisand on the recording have turned up to do live versions of their tracks on some tour stops. No such luck at the Verizon Center.
Instead, we got Streisand partnering with a film performance of Anthony Newley singing one of the Broadway standards he wrote with Leslie Bricusse, "Who Can I Turn To" (a version of this duet is on the new disc). The match of voices and styles didn't feel quite seamless, but the intensity of the words and music could be vividly felt.
Speaking of Newley (sad to say, I heard people around me asking who he was), the program also gave him a nod via a song he and Bricusse wrote, "Pure Imagination," for the movie "Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory."
Streisand performed that ballad in an especially warm tone and, with relevant video clips filling a screen behind her, used the lyrics to underline threats to the world around us. (She partners with Seth McFarlane on "Pure Imagination" on "Encores.")
Climate change was not the only political issue Streisand raised during the night. She has waded into various matters on previous tours, which, as she noted, seem to coincide with elections, and was bound to do so again this go-round.
She had the crowd roaring approvingly early on with a mention of how she drove "past Hilary's next house" driving to the Verizon Center. And there were a couple of barbs directed at a certain curiously coiffed real estate mogul running for president.
Some of Streisand's most enjoyable bits of banter during the evening concerned such things as skirmishes with record companies over album covers; her Broadway debut as Miss Marmelstein in "I Can Get It For You Wholesale"; and her relationship with "Funny Girl" director William Wyler. (The star also deftly handled the inevitable boorish types who yelled things out or took photos.)
From "Funny Girl," in addition to the obligatory "People," there was a robust account of "Don't Rain on My Parade." Even more rewarding was a reminiscence of "Funny Lady" that included an exquisite performance of one of that movie's best numbers, "Isn't It Better."
There were mementos from the years when, as Streisand put it, she was "trying to be hip." She took a leisurely stroll through "Woman in Love" and kicked it up for "Stoney End" and "Enough Is Enough," aided by a trio of backup singers. (Those singers and a 10-piece band provided supple support for Streisand all night.)
Other pop hits turned up, including "You Don't Bring Me Flowers" and, accompanied by graphic images of national and international crises, Carole King's ever-relevant "Being at War with Each Other."
Streisand returned to "Papa, Can Your Hear Me" from "Yentl" and gave it an affecting edge. She also she brought back "Being Alive," the Sondheim anthem from her "Broadway Album," delivering it with fresh, visceral emotion.
Of course, "Evergreen" was included, and another song from "A Star Is Born" served as the final encore -- "With One More Look At You," a curious, rather anticlimactic choice.
More curious was the presence of Lior Suchard, an animated mentalist/magician who provided some pre-Act 2 warm-up. I never thought a Streisand concert could be cheesy, but this act gave the evening an ill-fitting cruise ship feeling.
In the end, though, it was the force and beauty of Streisand's singing that, the day after, lingers in the not-at-all misty memory.
DC Metro Theater Arts
by David Friscic on August 19, 2016
A diva in the best sense of the word, Barbra Streisand has always understood that only an artistic perfectionist could span decades inspiring generations with her God-given vocal instrument —and, indeed, Ms. Streisand proved that she could still hold the audience in the palms of her beautiful hands at the Verizon Center last night.
I have had the privilege of listening to the magnificent vocal artistry of Ms. Streisand three times previously in a concert venue so I was quite surprised and even had to give myself some extra space for absorbing and processing the exciting new direction in which she had quite obviously decided to propel this concert. Gone was the 100 or 200-piece Orchestra and huge walkways and more outwardly “grandstanding” style —yes, Streisand can belt with the best of them but she infused this concert with an air of free, almost joyful “in the moment” abandon and a very relaxed lack of inhibition which was a pleasure to savor.
Caressing a set of some 22 songs (or so—) , and backed up by a ten piece – personally–picked orchestra, Streisand looked radiant and chatted with a very conversational patter as she appeared on the stage and cascaded through a diverse and eclectic mix of songs for all tastes. Perennial favorites were carefully interspersed with newer and more less-performed songs.
As befits a Barbra Streisand concert, musical arrangements were all top-notch, with “edgy –thrusts”— and quite markedly arranged with meticulous and carefully calibrated calibration. It was nice to hear the ever-vibrant Streisand’s vocal dexterity come through loud and clear without being overpowered by too much accompaniment.
A highly original and colorful filmic assemblage of various historical moments, record covers, fashion shoots and film clips were captivatingly captured as the “backdrop” to much of the live proceedings on stage and this multi-media concept worked exceedingly well. Lighting of various musical numbers was extremely theatrically effective as shafts of multi-hued lights splayed over the stage space in a pronounced and dynamic fashion.
Streisand’s vibrant sensuality and natural authority on stage coupled with her ferocity and drive and fierce political activism —have made her a stimulating and provocative political power. Her androgynous appeal as exemplified in so many of her influential hit films have justifiably made her one of the three greatest gay icons in the history of show biz. (Bette Davis and Judy Garland being the other two pre-eminent Gay favorites). In last night’s concert, it was obvious that Streisand’s appeal spanned every demographic from straight, gay, black, white, old, young, to the politically active and to vocal and artistic purists of all stripes.
Undoubtedly, though, it is Ms. Streisand’s sheer artistic musicianship and vocalizing that has made her the legend she has rightfully become. Streisand always interprets each song with such controlled yet theatrical fervor —each number is akin to a well-developed three-act play. Every image and every note serves to present an evocative and thrilling musical story. This ability was most markedly shown in a devastatingly tormented rendition of Sondheim’s “Losing My Mind” from Follies.
Streisand’s voice continues to possess an edgy timbre and sheen that has sent chills down the spines of appreciative audiences for generations. Barbra’s voice has matured with the years — this effect has produced a wholly satisfying burnished glow or coda to the concluding notes of her songs.
Streisand excited the crowd to almost maniacal musical frenzy as she quite decidedly opted to push through and embrace the “ever-so-slightly” gruffer timbre of her most upper register — this “all-out” emoting breathed new emotion and life into several thrilling concluding verses and lines especially in the best cover I have ever heard of “Don’t Rain on My Parade”.
Opening with the sentimental and heartfelt favorite “The Way We Were” was an auspicious and apt choice (and the memories of Streisand brushing Redford’s face in the film of the same name continue to flood the collective consciousness).
A romantic triptych of the many myriad progressive stages of love was another triumph as exemplified in her emotive encapsulation of the vicissitudes of love ——from the complex “Being at War with Each Other” to the tentative hope and affirmation of “Everything Must Change” [note: actually, not sung in D.C.] to the jubilant radiance and triumph of the Streisand up-tempo favorite “Woman in Love.”
Pop hits and cultural touchstones from Streisand’s career took the lead as she sang the Oscar –winning “Evergreen” and the ever-popular “You Don’t Send Me Flowers.”
A hearty nod to Composer Stephen Sondheim was again portrayed in the stunning medley “Being Alive” from Company and the ruminative, poetic “Children Will Listen” from Into the Woods. Streisand soared to a soaring crescendo with the concurrent moods of pain and joy with her cover of “Being Alive.” Streisand carefully elongated each phrase from “Children” and instilled an almost “reverie –like hush” throughout the audience with her plaintive and searching rendering.
Like all great singers, Streisand showed the instinctive, inherent understanding of the exquisite timing and interpretative phrasing ability to perform a song from a sense of utter quietude (as she also does when she sings the opening prayer by the light of the flickering candle in “Papa, Can you Hear Me?” from the film Yentl).
Streisand is a master at Sondheim interpretation as she inherently understands the verbal intricacy of Sondheim’s patterns –which beautifully embellishes the pathos underneath the dexterity of Sondheim’s verbal intricacy.
She can take a very uplifting traditional classic like “Evergreen” and turn it into so much more than a spiritual anthem. By virtue of a superior arrangement and a novel, more exploratory approach to the lyrics—Streisand creates a whole new song as if drawn from thin air and realized into a new musical touchstone.
Perhaps the penultimate highpoint amongst a concert full of so many such moments was Streisand’s oft-performed rendition of “Happy Days Are Here Again.” Streisand triumphed here as she imbued the song with equal components of grit, triumph over despair and a melodic pathos that hope remains eternal even in the most trying of times.
This sense of a vulnerable, tremulous soul fighting for dignity and idealism in a world that quite often seems uncaring is the germination of Streisand’s emotive and vocal genius.
Barbra Streisand’s current concert at the Verizon Center last night gave us all the gift of a more intimate and relaxed Barbara still at the height of her artistic and vocal powers. Beyond any shadow of a doubt, Barbra Streisand’s influence will continue to inspire new generations of singers for decades to come.
Terry Sykes Review
This was the third time I've seen Barbra Streisand perform live. The first time was in 1994 when I was 38. The second time was in 2006 when I was 50. And now the third time and I am 60.
Being an ardent fan since I was 14, when I see Barbra live, I can't help but be stunned that I am in her presence (albeit with thousands of others). I think I sat closer this time than on my last two outings - still middle tier. What still astounds me is this human being singing center stage - tiny from my vantage point is the woman who through her magical voice and other amazing talents throughout these many years is the one who has brought me such joy. This one person.
I find myself flipping from looking at the large monitor - a screen where I know her best then back to the distant human figure who I will never know on a personal level. I think I might be afraid to. Her entire career whirls through my head while she sings and I think,
"How is this possible?" "How did one person do all this?" "And she's here!"
But enough about the rather bizarre feeling of being a Barbra fan for practically all of your life and trying to come to grips that she's a person in your midst, breathing the same air that you are.
I look around at the crowd and see so many different age people and I wonder when they jumped on the "Barbra bandwagon." At what point in her 55+ year career did people get hooked on her magic. What will they relate to? To the casual fan (is there such a person?), Barbra insists on pleasing everyone, so well-worn classics which she's known for making famous are trotted out, so someone afterward won't grumble, "She didn't even sing 'People.'" I want my money back."
My God, I heard a man grumble in the parking deck about paying $40 for "Event Parking." Of course, I was not too happy about that myself, but as we made our way to the elevators (it was obvious that his wife was the fan), I told him that Barbra puts on a great show. Whether he enjoyed it or not, I'll never know. But he was in for "sticker shock" once he entered the center. $40 was the price of about every souvenir from T-shirts to programs. But if you're a true fan and know the rarity of such an event (or your proximity to it), one throws thrift out the window. I almost died after the show when a well dressed young couple up from Miami ahead of me plopped down over $300 for merchandise. Wow!
The show itself was mesmerizing. Many other "media critic reviewers" have been basically kind and have given the show good marks. But all seem to want to mention the rasp in Barbra's voice or slight "huskiness" (a word I loathe). What is she? A pair of overweight pre-teen's pants? And of course her age. Blah!
But what I've noticed by watching all this poorly captured smart phone footage put on YouTube (hey folks, didn't you hear the message at the top of the show?) is that Barbra's voice improves as her tour moves on through several dates. She has amazingly not blown out her voice by singing too much - going for the stratosphere night after night in some cheesy Las Vegas revue. So her practicing comes in those first few shows of the tour. Near the middle to finish of the concert dates, she's singing spectacularly like in D.C. Her voice has opened up to its full glorious potential.
She is warm and funny with the audience. To someone down front she said jokingly, "I can see you taking a picture of me right now." There were no "duet surprises" as I hoped might be. The band overpowered her on "How Lucky Can You Get?" and if you weren't familiar with "Funny Lady" (the film Barbra practically never acknowledges) then the song seems a bit bombastic and boastful even though Barbra explained it was Fanny Brice's character. I don't think many people "got it." And I heard people behind me comment that they were not sure who Anthony Newley was. I told you there was a wide age range.
I loved her renditions of "Pure Imagination" and "Losing My Mind." When you hear Barbra sing "Broadway chestnuts" of old which she has never performed, it's as if no one has ever sung them before. I enjoyed Lior Suchard, the mentalist. Critics have characterized him as the show's low point. But he was hysterical and engaging and you should have seen the faces of the people on the large monitors when he read their minds. It was priceless.
I wish the encore had been "I Didn't Know What Time It Was" instead of "With One More Look At You," but one can't have everything even though that sentiment was expressed in a song in Act One.
Please - a future DVD of this wonderful concert- then one might come close!
Jump Menu Navigation ...
1960s Live Performances:
1970s & 1980s Live Performances:
1990s & 2000s Live Performances: