Barbra!!

2 August 2016, Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA

So many moments, so many photos. She was my bucket list item, the last great performer I hadn’t seen live. Why wouldn’t I want to capture “every single look and sweet expression on her face”, to quote a line from one of the songs in Yentl, “The Way He Makes Me Feel”? Barbra didn’t sing that one; she sang – and I knew she would – “Papa Can You Hear Me?”. It had been my father’s favourite song from the Yentl soundtrack and so I thought of him with tears in my eyes as she sang it mesmerisingly, and that was just fine.

So much of this concert was fine and much was sublime, and in thinking of what to say I find most of my words superfluous. Is her voice as good at 74 as it was on the Guilty album when she was 38? I’d say not, as she limited her performance of “Woman In Love”, the song I most wanted to hear, to one verse and one chorus, mixed into a medley with “Stoney End” and “Enough Is Enough”, with much reliance on her backing singers. But she made up for that with impeccable versions of “The Way We Were”, which opened the show, “Don’t Rain On My Parade” (stupendous!) and “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers”. We all wished that Neil Diamond would walk on stage and sing that with her. Or that Barry Gibb would appear to sing “What Kind Of Fool”, but alas there were no other songs from Guilty.

Instead, there was the strangest of guests, a mentalist mind-reader guy called Lior, who took up too much time early in the show, and then a few of the men that Barbra has dueted with in recent years – first Kenny Babyface Edmonds on “Evergreen”, which I wish she had just done solo, then Seth McFarlane on “Pure Imagination”, and then Jamie Foxx, whose voice is gorgeous, on “Climb Every Mountain.” (The Billboard review has the full set list.)

I loved the journey through her movies, the focus especially on A Star Is Born, Yentl, Prince Of Tides, Funny Girl and Funny Lady. I loved her Broadway stories, her dipping into lesser known tracks from her favourite albums, and her totally scripted but totally Barbra patter. She’s like an adorable, feisty, self-depracating but supremely confident Jewish aunt. The fingernails are still extraordinarily long and so are the hair extensions. I wished she’d talked about her divine husband James Brolin once or twice, or even brought him on stage to share a cup of tea. The teapot was lovely. Just like Hubbell’s girl. There is almost nothing in life that can’t be directly related to something Barbra Streisand has acted in or directed or recorded. So after many a swipe at Trump, as we all knew she would, she finished with perfect renditions of “People” and “Happy Days Are Here Again”, and left her adoring audience on higher ground.

It’s a long time since I have felt swept up in such incredible love for an artist as there was for Barbra from the audience in the Staples Centre last night. I have always said that Barbra Streisand has God’s own voice, and finally I have been in the same room as that voice. And watched her smile and scowl and sigh and kvetch. She lost an earring at one point. I wanted to run up on stage and find it for her. I wanted to share a cup of tea with her and tell her how much my Dad loved Yentl and how I still do, and how I still sing my heart out to the Guilty album, one of the seminal albums of my life. I wanted to see the entire show all over again. It was a major lifetime event.

So that’s why there are this many photos. Enjoy.

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