Barbra: The Music, The Mem’ries, The Magic
November 30, 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
- With One More Look at You
- Everything Must Change
[Credits: Thanks Jami Miller& Erica Swanson Peach for the set list]
Above: Barbra brought her dog Sammie out on stage at the end of the show again.
Barbra Streisand delivers a half century of hits at Tampa's Amalie Arena
Jay Cridlin, Pop Music/Culture Critic, Tampa Bay Times
Each note brought sighs of reverie, each lovelorn lyric oohs and ahhs and applause.
All Barbra Streisand had to do was smile and sing, and the sold-out crowd at Tampa’s Amalie Arena was a big bowl of buttah in her palms.
“I’ve never been here, never been to Tampa-St. Pete,” Babs admitted Wednesday night, as if the nearly 12,000 fans in attendance didn’t know.
This was Stresiand’s first local concert after a half century as a stage and screen icon, and given her notorious aversion to touring, there’s no reason to think she’ll ever be back, giving the night a historic, once-in-a-lifetime feel. It certainly must’ve felt that way to the floor-seaters who’d shelled out four figures to bear witness.
Streisand, 74, with an armory of Hollywood awards to her name, delivered a set that covered the arc of her music and film career from ingénue to icon, Miss Marmelstein to Roz Focker. In between songs she showed photos, told stories, rolled film clips, and even made a little coffee talk with her long-suffering Florida fans.
The Salvador Dali Museum? She’s been to Dali’s actual house, but sure, that sounded fun, too. “I would love to go there, just to say, ‘Hello, Dali!’”
Bern’s Steak House? She’d been eyeing the dessert room menu for later. “This is a place you get chocolate cheese pie? With a side of Lipitor, of course?”
Every now and then, she’d respond to an overheated fan screaming out from the stands. Like the guy who requested Funny Girl’s I’d Rather Be Blue: “You want me to put on roller skates, too?”
Truth is, Streisand could’ve crooned an old phone book, and fans would have cheered. Her voice is in the conversation for greatest of all time, and even at 74, it can still sweep you up in a sack of sap and schmaltz until you’re pawing in your purse for a hanky.
The first set, Streisand devoted mostly to her No. 1 albums across six decades, which meant tearjerking move themes like The Way We Were and Evergreen (Love Theme from A Star Is Born)), and Top 40 tiptoes into yacht-pop (Woman In Love) and disco (No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)). It was a cavalcade of hits by ‘70s songwriting superstars (Marvin Hamlisch, Neil Diamond, Paul Williams) that Streisand still champions like few others.
“In my opinion,” she said of Stephen Sondheim's Being Alive, “this kind of music will never sound of out date, am I right?”
Streisand spoke at length between each song, telling stories about her life in film and music, battling for control of each project. She sang Papa, Can You Hear Me? alongside a clip of her younger self in 1983’s Yentl, a film she directed. Of her 1976 feminist ballad Everything, she said: “That was my philosophy then, and I think it still is.”
She kept the political chat to a minimum (“It’s been a very interesting time in the news recently, but I’m not going there”), but during Being At War With Each Other, she rolled clips of protesters in Selma and South Africa, marchers for women’s rights and Black Lives Matter. When photos appeared of Orlando’s Pride nightclub massacre, the crowd applauded. At the end of the clip, a message materialized on screen: "Love is always the answer."
“To all you little girls who want to be president of the United States, don’t stop dreaming,” she said. “Little boys, too.”
The prodigious reputation of Streisand’s magical mezzo-soprano invites close scrutiny, and so perhaps the stray dodgy notes she struck stung more than they might have coming from a lesser diva. Up in the cheap seats (if you can call $100 upper-deckers “cheap seats”), her soft, vulnerable delivery, a strength on quiet ballads, got swallowed by the swell of her 13-piece backing orchestra, especially on upbeat numbers like How Lucky Can You Get and Don’t Rain On My Parade.
But can Streisand, on a good day, still hold her own with the Adeles and Lady Gagas of the world? Yeah, absolutely she can. It’s all in that pure, pristine vibrato, arching from octave to octave, melting each sustained note into the next. You Don’t Bring Me Flowers, especially the second verse (“Now after loving me late at night…”)? Gorgeous. A delicate, crystalline Pure Imagination? Effortless. Each sustained, belted climax was a high hanging fastball in Streisand’s sweet spot, and she blasted each one deep into the gap.
It is clear Streisand wouldn’t still be touring if she didn’t feel her voice was up to the task. Even in a tour this exacting, she remained her harshest critic, nitpicking album covers and never thinking twice about asking for more volume or less light. When she sat down for Who Can I Turn To (When Nobody Needs Me), she arched an eyebrow at her spotlight. “Don’t we have a smaller spot or something? Seems like so much lights. It’s an intimate song.”
Even her scripted stage banter, much of which was cued to screenshots and film clips behind her, was not immune to self-critique.
“There’s nothing like your first time,” she said at one point, pausing immediately thereafter. “Which I’ve said already, but that’s okay. I’ll change it for my next show.”
In Tampa, though, this was one first time they’ll be talking about for ages – especially the end, when Streisand popped on and off the stage for an endless run of show-stopping encores (People, Happy Days are Here Again, I Didn’t Know What Time It Was) before offering one more, Everything Must Change, as a sweet and jazzy digestif.
“Isn’t this a weekday?” Streisand mock-chastised the crowd. “Wow. I want you to drive very carefully okay? Okay, I’m going to do do another one. What the heck? You’re beauuuuutiful!”
Here, again, came the oohs and ahhs and cheers. Fans in Tampa had been waiting 50 years for this moment with Streisand. One more song for the road sounded grand.
Barbra Streisand makes Tampa fans weep, and proves that she's timeless at Amalie Arena
Hello gorgeous to you, too.
Gabe Echazabal, Tampa Bay Creative Loafing
When it comes to entertainers, you don’t get a whole lot bigger than Barbra Streisand. She’s conquered Broadway, enjoyed a colorful career in film (from both sides of the camera) and cast an indelible mark with her long, storied career as a consummate singer. Her long-standing appeal derives from a variety of components: her charisma, her versatility, her style and her voice. Oh that voice.
In her first-ever visit to the area, the sold out crowd who filled Amalie Arena on Wednesday night got to hear that voice live for themselves…and boy, did they get a treat. The 74-year old performer delivered a program entitled “Barbra: The Music...The Mem'ries...The Magic!” that was the equivalent of thumbing through a live, audible photo album of her lengthy career and celebrating the incredible musical journey she embarked upon many years ago.
A stage that was tastefully adorned with sleek tables, elegant flower vases, velvety cushioned stools and chaise lounges more closely resembled a posh living room than a hockey arena concert stage. Flanked by two large risers that accommodated a full band including a string section, backup singers and percussionists, it wasn’t long before the night’s headliner would make her way onto the stage to usher in her grand entrance. Following a video montage of career highlights beamed on a massive screen at the rear of the stage, La Streisand emerged to rapturous applause. Clad in flowing black blouse and sleek black slacks, the Brooklyn native wasted no time greeting the adoring crowd and launching into one of her most famous ballads, 1973’s “The Way We Were”.
As a collective sigh of elation fell over the arena, Barbra’s signature silky smooth filled every crevice of the room. Although she doesn’t quite reach this highest high notes she used to, and her voice sounds a little deeper than it ever did, make no mistake: she can still sing circles around just about anyone out there.
As if she needed to endear the mostly well-dressed, middle aged crowd who assembled to see her, Barbra took a few minutes to show off her knowledge of our hometown to more thunderous applause. Making references to the birth of the Cuban Sandwich, the Dali Museum and Bern’s Steakhouse (and its famous dessert room), Streisand made light small talk before delving into deeper issues.
“It’s an interesting time in the news,” she lamented.
“But…I’m not going there!” she said before returning to her story-teller styled program during which she recalled humorous anecdotes and career-defining moments from her life as an entertainer. Replete with audio clips, rare film outtakes and a comical overview of some of her album covers, Streisand showed off her natural knack for showmanship.
Shifting gears from lighthearted topics to weightier issues like women’s equality, Barbra juggled songs and stories all night long and never lost touch with her rapt audience. As several impassioned screams of “I Love you, Barbra!” rattled from the stands, she never missed a beat and lovingly acknowledged each and every shout out she was showered with while gliding through her 1970’s forays into disco (“Enough Is Enough”) and pop-friendly radio ballads (“Woman In Love”).
Whether interpreting songs by Broadway legend Stephen Sondheim or legendary pop songwriter Carole King, Barbra filled each number with her own unique essence and made each selection a showstopper. Taking occasional sips of tea from the fancy glassware that sat atop tables across the wide open stage, Streisand gained range, power and vocal depth with each and every one of the opening sets performances…most notably with the epic, gut-wrenching delivery of the first act’s closing song, “Papa Can You Hear Me?” from her 1983 film Yentl.
Continuing to feature material from throughout her career, one that boasts no. 1 albums scored consecutively over six decades (including her most current LP, 2016’s Encore: Movie Partners Sing Broadway), Streisand, the best-selling female artist of all time, emerged again after a short intermission to kick off her second act.
A costume change found her donning an extravagant charcoal grey gown and a stunning sparkly diamond pendant that reached the ground. Elegant and neatly coiffed, Barbra greeted the crowd for the second half of the show with “Hello gorgeous to you too!,” a nod to her trademark opening line from her 1968 breakout film, Funny Girl.
Opting to again focus on more serious matters, Streisand took a few minutes to discuss the perils of climate change and ecological disasters before launching into a heartfelt rendition of 1971’s “Pure Imagination”, a song made famous in the film Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
More film clips and memories recalled throughout the second half of the night continued the theme of the program and included some more funny bits including a sidebar regarding Apple’s Siri mispronouncing the singer’s surname and how she went about getting the issue corrected…by calling Apple CEO Tim Cook personally to rectify the mistake.
Knockout punches from Funny Girl came in the form of “Don’t Rain on My Parade” (as the iconic movie scene where Barbra sings while riding on a tugboat appeared on video screens) and the night’s first encore, Streisand’s signature ballad, “People”.
“Republicans, Democrats, Red States, Blue States…may we all come together in these United States” she pleaded and, again, was met with a rousing ovation before delivering her exquisite take on the 1920’s Depression-era standard “Happy Days Are Here Again”, a song she’s performed for presidents Kennedy, Johnson and Clinton again signaling the length and the longevity of her amazing career.
With another two encores following, Barbra made her Bay area debut a memorable one. As many tears of exhilaration, joy and emotion were shed by patrons in nearby seats, it was easy to see and hear the impact this magnificent performer and icon has had on her audience for so many decades now.
An entertainer of her caliber, versatility and raw charisma are in rare supply these days but Barbra Streisand proves time after time, decade after decade, that her many gifts and her many talents are boundless and limitless and that she, like all the great standards and show tunes she’s so keen on, never go out of style.
Jump Menu Navigation ...
1960s Live Performances:
1970s & 1980s Live Performances:
1990s & 2000s Live Performances: