Barbra Streisand @ Bell Centre – October 17, 2012

The 2 ½ hour show (yes, even at the age of 70 the lady knows how to give her fans their money’s worth) should have been required viewing for all young female singers.  The reason being that the lady gave a master class on how to sing songs and perform onstage.  Everything was professional and even though it was scripted and rehearsed she has the ability to make us feel like she is doing/singing/saying something for the first time. She possesses the song.  Even more than that she becomes the song.  All that and the cherry on the top being her voice.

Despite her lack of singing (I saw an interview recently where she said she does not sing unless she is about to go on tour) and practicing her voice is still magnificent.  Yes, it is lower than it used to be when she started out 50 years ago.  That is a natural fact of life.  She cannot hit those soaring high notes anymore.  What she still does better than almost anyone is exhibit amazing control (nary a false note despite getting over a cold) and phrasing.  Her voice is powerful, mature and pushes the song forward.  She does things that others cannot do.  One of the people I was with at the show marveled at how “clear” her singing voice is.  It really is an advantage when the singer does not mumble (this means you, Alanis!) the words and you are able to be pulled into the emotion of the song because of it.  In other words, the lady takes very seriously what she does and does it very well/professionally.

The stage was either the same or very similar to the one she used on her 2006 tour with its railinged walkways all around and through the middle of the stage.  The large orchestra (with most of the musicians being from Montreal) was sunken down in front and divided in two sections by the walkway in the middle.  Up in the front of the stage was a simple chair, table with a bouquet of pink roses and la Streisand’s mug of chicken soup.  Not quite elaborate as previous tours, but still effective.  This is another lesson young musicians could learn – simplicity.  There were no pyrotechnics, billowing smoke, intricate choreography or anything that wreaked of cheapness.  And yet we all still sat there riveted.  The woman knows how to work and control a room simple with her presence and voice.

She was funny (“it’s not over until the fat lady sings and I ain’t that fat yet”), frank (saying she didn’t mind the living legend label as it contained the word “living”) and made the Bell Centre seem intimate. She even treated us to a glimpse of those wonderful and famous legs when one of three outfits she wore had a lengthy slit up the side.

There were several poignant moments throughout the show.  The first being her tribute through words, photos and song of her longtime musical partner, Marvin Hamlisch, who had passed away recently.  Her mash up of The Way We Were and Through the Eyes of Love (the theme Hamlisch had composed for the film Ice Castles) was even more touching as a result.  The second “nice” moment was when she showed a film her son Jason Gould had made for her for her 70th birthday and the pride which was obvious when she brought him out to sing How Deep Is the Ocean with her.

Guest appearances was part of the theme of the evening as Barbra brought on some talent in order to sing with and also to allow her to step off the stage and take a break.  First up was Il Volo, a trio of very young (17, 18, 19) male Italian vocalists a la Il Divo.  After the intermission it was trumpet player Chris Botti’s turn.  He even got into the swing of things by having his own special guest, the wonderful violin player Caroline Campbell, to accompany him on the song Emmanuel.

The evening was ended with a wonderful moment.  Babs told us that her time in Montreal was a real family affair.  Indicating that several members of her family were in town, she said that they gathered the prior evening in her hotel room to watch the presidential debate.  The family affair continued as she introduced her sister Rosie (Roslyn) Kind and they performed a duet of the songs that Barbra and the great Judy Garland had done in 1963.  They blended the show stoppers Happy Days Are Here Again and Get Happy.  While Rosie’s voice is much lower that Barbra’s it wasn’t a perfect blending, but in the end it worked.  A nice touch.

Montreal is one of only twelve stops on this tour and I for one am very thankful to this living legend that she chose to come to Montreal and afforded me the opportunity to see her live while she is still doing live shows.

Set List

Film Montage (from a young child to Funny Face)

1) Funny Girl Overture

2) As If We Never Said Goodbye (from Sunset Boulevard)

3) Nice ‘n Easy/That Face

4) The Way He Makes Me Feel (from Yentl)

5) Didn’t We

6) Smile (with Il Volo)

7) Un Amore Cosa Grande (Il Volo)

8) O Sole Moi/It’s Now Or Never (Il Volo)

Q & A (questions from crowd read from cards)

9) Guilty (snippet)

10) I Finally Found Someone (snippet)

11) The Way We Were/Through the Eyes of Love

12) Being Good (Isn’t Good Enough)

13) Rose’s Turn/Some People/Don’t Rain On My Parade

Intermission (including song “Barbra Streisand” by Duck Sauce)

Film Montage (sound bites from Brooklynites)

14) If You Go Away/Ne Me Quitte Pas

15) What’ll I Do/My Funny Valentine (with Chris Botti)

16) Lost Inside of You (with Chris Botti)

17) Evergreen (with Chris Botti)

18) Emmanuel (Chris Botti with violinist Caroline Campbell)

19) When I Fall In Love (Chris Botti)

Film Montage (Son Jason Gould’s birthday gift to Barbra)

20) How Deep is the Ocean (with Jason Gould)

21) This Masquerade (Jason Gould)

22) People

23) Here’s to Life

24) Make Our Garden Grow/Somewhere (with Montreal Choral Institute, Jason Gould, Chris Botti and Il Bolo)

Encore:

25) Some Other Time

2nd Encore (Though as she said herself she was too lazy to leave the stage)

26) Happy Days Are Here Again/Get Happy

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