Barbra Streisand returns to Brooklyn as part of North American tour
It Rained, But Not on Her Parade
About two hours before the start of Barbra Streisand’s sold-out Barclays Center concert on Thursday night, the skies over Brooklyn opened and a torrential downpour ensued. Then, as quickly as it began, it ended. The heat and steaminess returned, but with a gift — a rainbow over Barclays.
There was another gift inside: Brooklyn’s most celebrated daughter, Barbra Streisand — an artist who, spanning six decades, has recorded 52 gold, 31 platinum and 13 multi-platinum albums; has been awarded two Oscars, five Emmys, 10 Golden Globes, eight Grammys, a special Tony award, plus received a Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Obama. Streisand was about to perform one of the most thrilling, moving and magisterial concerts this reporter has ever attended.
Judging by the tumultuous and passionate reception 18,000-plus fans (including former Mayor David Dinkins, Ralph Lauren, Sarah Jessica Parker and Rosie O’Donnell) gave Streisand, I was not alone in my awe and admiration.
Materializing through a mix of mist and klieg lights, to the strains of “People,” Streisand had us all at “Hello, Brooklyn!”
Opening with “The Way We Were,” and with much clever, nostalgic and self-deprecating patter in between, Streisand proceeded to perform one of her hits from each of those six decades: “Everything,” “Being at War With Each Other,” “Everything Must Change,” the medley “Woman in Love/Stoney End/Enough is Enough,” “Evergreen,” “You Don’t’ Bring Me Flowers,” “Being Alive” (for this listener the pinnacle of the first act; with all due respect to Dean Jones, Bernadette Peters and Neal Patrick Harris, nobody sings this Sondheim song like Streisand) and “Papa Can You Hear Me?”, from my favorite Streisand film “Yentl.” By then, both artist and audience needed an intermission to catch our collective breath.
With the (exceptional) orchestra playing “On a Clear Day,” Streisand once again emerged from the fog like a deity. Her first song was the Leslie Bricusse-Anthony Newley gem from “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” the enchanting “Pure Imagination.” Equally surprising was Streisand’s next choice: a lovely and heartfelt tribute to the late Newley, peaking with a goose bump-inducing “duet” version of “Who Can I Turn To?” (complete with a black and white montage of the singer/composer himself on the giant screen behind her). Only an artist with such impeccable, pitch-perfect taste and timing could have pulled this off so elegantly and gracefully. Streisand possesses those qualities in spades.
After partnering with guest artists Patrick Wilson on “Loving You” and Jamie Foxx on “Climb Every Mountain,” Streisand closed with “Happy Days,” a song she has sung for three Presidents: John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and Bill Clinton. Since first singing it on her debut album in 1963 (appropriately called “The Barbra Streisand Album”), it has become almost an anthem. Streisand’s unforgettable concert was the perfect antidote to a summer of appalling and frightful events and the divisive and incendiary presidential campaign of a certain candidate (leave it to Streisand to get in a couple of brief, perfectly timed zingers.)
Brava, Barbra, and thank you — perhaps that rainbow over Barclays was a harbinger of happier days.
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