I'm not a major Barbra Streisand fan, but when I saw her do a six-song set—with a cold—at the opening of Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino, I vowed to see a full live show someday. There was definitely a little magic in that moment, but there was much, much more than just a little last night at Barclays in Brooklyn.
In spite of the hag behind me who felt the need to loudly sing along the entire first act when she wasn't loudly talking (and heckling the pro-Hillary Clinton asides: “Benghazi.”), the show was a marvel.
Streisand was political, but not relentlessly so. She did talk about about President Clinton's (the first one) speech regarding how all human beings are 99.9% genetically the same, “Except for Trump. He's ... different.” She included projected images of police shootings and even 9/11 during a stirring performance of Carole King's “Being at War with Each Other,” and also included appeals for attention to climate change and women's heart problems.
But the banter was largely humorous and relaxed. She joked effortlessly with the crowd and seemed to feed off the delight in the room any time she tackled a monumental Broadway number, or, even more so, indulged us with a more commercial smash like “Evergreen.”
She definitely gave the crowd what we came for, and was in excellent, spine-tinglingly on-point voice, so my complaints are few: I would've liked full versions of the hits she confined to a medley, I felt her “I Didn't Know What Time It Was” made for a meh encore and she's dead to me for skipping “Prisoner.” Okay, that last one I never dreamed would happen.
She more than made up for small shortcomings by bringing out Jamie Foxx and Patrick Wilson for powerful duets. Actually, she received a standing O after every song she sang:
Highlights for me—these were the A-plusses in a field of straight As—were “Being Alive,” “Papa, Can You Hear Me?,” “Pure Imagination,” “Children Will Listen” and “Don't Rain on My Parade.” It was also a hoot hearing how Arthur Laurents never forgave her for improving on his vision of her “Miss Marmelstein” number in I Can Get It for You Wholesale.
It was a performance for the ages. At 74, she looks lovely, sings beautifully, is curating her catalogue pretty well and still knows how to make the people laugh, as when she asked if we knew what it was really like to be famous and have an amazing career, answering her own question with, “It's fan-fucking-tastic!”
...which would've made for a good, one-word review of her show.
Full set list (the only difference on Saturday night was she dropped “Everything Must Change” and did “Children Will Listen”):