Barbra Streisand's Concert on TV Last Night: My Thoughts

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On PBS last night, the legendary star of Funny Girl was shown in her return to the Village Vanguard.

I'm talking about Lauren Ambrose!

Kidding. It was someone named Babs Streisand.

And she was like butter.

Barbra must have been freaking -- live performing makes her as nervous as a little focker -- but as she pointed out, "It's hard to have stage fright with practically no stage."

The Vanguard happens to be a small, atmospheric boîte filled with misty water-colored memories for the woman who started out there and went on to conquer all media with her pipes, 'tude, and nails.

Cramped into the place like sardines was a glittery crowd that included celebs like Bill Clinton, Nicole Kidman, Sarah Jessica Parker, Phyllis Newman (who beat Babs for the Tony way back when), and, of course, silver fox James Brolin.

They watched avidly as Barbra went through a bunch of silky ballads, which she applied her usual exquisite tones to.

There was just one problem.

The array of slow, oozy sounds became monotonous.

We were deprived of the spunky Barbra that we love and instead got borderline schlock like "Here's to Life" and "If You Go Away" mixed with classics like "My Funny Valentine" and "Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most," plus two token Streisand hits, the slower-than-molasses "Evergreen" and "The Way We Were."

Barbra was cozy and charming, but when she cutely raised a deli coffee cup in a toast to the audience, I prayed there was some energy drink in there!


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26 comments
Guest
Guest

I have caught bits of this program at various times recently on local PBS stations.  I enjoyed it when I heard "Evergreen" and "The Way We Were" and the quartet backing up Barbra Streisand, as many have said, is superb.  Her voice is still wonderful to listen to and she really knows how to make a song compelling.  However, whoever did the audio for this broadcast messed up big time.  She made a mistake only an amateur singer should make -- holding the microphone way too close, so every "p" pops the mic and you hear every breath, quite unpleasant to listen to.  The audio engineer should have instructed her to hold the mic further away, and should have provided her with a better quality microphone with a much better pop filter.  As it is, I found it hard to listen to because of this and after one or two songs had to change the channel because she was just holding the mic too close.  Good luck to her, though, she is still an amazing singer. 

Nocciola
Nocciola

The woman has not lost it. Yes, a few carefully covered notes here or there, where one time she would have given full throttle, but yes - at almost 70 - wow!  She handled performing in a small space beautifully - considering she said in interviews that she hates doing so. Surpirsed at her outfit - a bit dull for Streisand, but what the hell - it was never "hello gorgeous"!  Same as with Minelli. I got goosebumps when she sang "If you go away" - and so did the audience.  Bravo Barbra - keep going!

Scruff712
Scruff712

I bought the blu ray when it came out and it has to be the gauziest mess of anything shot in the modern era. I know she doesn't want anyone to see the work she had done, but it was like airbrushed legos everytime the camera was on her.

Daveyrh
Daveyrh

I'm not doing much today so I'm responding to all this shit, including my own.  Actually, most film takes a bunch of years off without doing a lot to it.  If Sarah Jessica Parker were photographed on the new digital film that's coming down the tube you'd see every vein and tendon in her body.  Oh, yeah, she looks a decade or more younger in her many endorsement photographs than her 45 or so years.  And you're right - Barbra looks significantly brushed on the Blue Ray but has at least had the double chin removed or something since she started shooting that new movie.  Wrinkled, but chinless.

Daveyrh
Daveyrh

These are not zippy songs, but slow and thoughtful ballads, like Frank Sinatra.  You have a tin ear.

Nycman165
Nycman165

Jeez, has she fallen from the pantheon.  Almost no one knew she was on TV, and even fewer cared.

Do we hear rumbles of catastrophe re her next ill-advised venture?

Paul Ancheta
Paul Ancheta

Almost no one knew she was on TV?  Tell that to the millions who bought the DVD of that concert when it was released in 2009.

Gaye
Gaye

Sublime  music

Forget you, Michael!

Normadesmond
Normadesmond

thought she sounded far better than most of what i've heard of her lately. i would've liked to have seen the redone barbie, like she was on the grammy's....extensions, granny gown....she looked gorgeous like that.

mjm
mjm

figures that no normal people were in the audience, just Babs's "friends"

Barbfile
Barbfile

Actually the room only seated 125 and 100 were fans who won tickets from her web site. I know because I tried to get one. The celebs were sitting with the hoi-poloi and I hear the overflow of stars who wanted to watch were in a ballroom at the Waldorf. Most of the crowd were Barbra's people. BTW, it was one night only. She never took the show on the road... And as for slow, that's in the eye/ear of the beholder. She sounded sublime to me.

Lois Carmen DeNominateur
Lois Carmen DeNominateur

It was OK, but I switched off after the third fundraising pitch from Vermont Public Television. For all I know, they STILL haven't finished the show yet.

Gregorama
Gregorama

Say what you will about her....songs too slow, too glossy, etc.  But that voice remains amazingly like it was 50 years ago. Sure, she's mellowed---c'mon, the gal's turning 70 in the spring---but that limpid, gorgeous sound and flawless phrasing remains the same.  It's human nature to take a swing at gigantic emblems such as her...but I'm hard-pressed to think of any other pop singer, ever---sorry Judy, sorry Frank---who was able to combine a great voice and a great singing talent to greater effect than her. 

Marcellito
Marcellito

Here's to life is shlock? Not when Shirley Horn sang it

Daveyrh
Daveyrh

I like them both.  And Shirley Horn's albums are not all that aerobically fit either, but she's wonderful, too.  Why do people resent Babs getting older?  Not many 69 year olds have that much control over their voices, or their bladders for that matter.

Barkley
Barkley

No "Main Event", "Stoney End", or "Enough is Enough"?  "Woman in the Moon", "Make No Mistake, He's Mine"?

Heck
Heck

Oops, make that CD, not DC....

Heck
Heck

Fortunately, Barbra Joan is adding a couple of uptempo numbers to her latest DC, WHAT MATTERS MOST (out 8/23): "That Face" and "Nice and Easy." I think she took to heart criticisms about ballad monotony on LOVE IS THE ANSWER and her Village Vanguard DVD.

JEWISHPRINCESS0
JEWISHPRINCESS0

Personally... I would rather see Phyllis Newman.

SDee
SDee

Personally...I think you would prefer Phyllis Diller.

billyjoe
billyjoe

Yo, Queens! Don't rain on Babs' parade.

Harv
Harv

There were only a couple of off notes, but mainly she was smooth and in control. I like her in ballad mode, so I don'd mind, but maybe she should have encored with something a little peppy.

Parma
Parma

I agree!! It was too ossified. it was probably Geritol in that cup.

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