Sunday, 2 June 2013

Barbra Streisand blasts the roof off the O2 - at least while she was on

“The lady herself has decreed absolutely no photos” - the warning from the staff at the O2 as we took our seats for the opening night of Barbra Streisand’s European tour which kicked off in London.

“Don’t be tempted, she even has spies planted in the audience to confiscate phones from anyone who is seen even using one to take a picture.”

A bit harsh, but this is Barbra Streisand, Babs, the 71-year-old legend of tinsel town who at an age most are putting the microphone down and the slippers on can belt out a tune with a gusto few can rival.

I would not say I am a devoted fan, but like many I love her music and when the opportunity arose to see her perform her 93rd concert of her 50-year career arose, I jumped at it.

Just 93 though? I thought it was more, apparently not, but there was that 27-year gap in her performing career before she re-emerged in a frenzy of excitement in 1994 for a sell-out concert at London’s Wembley Stadium.

Just seeing the mighty Streisand in the flesh was undoubtedly to some worth the £500 ticket price alone.

And I, like many who had never had the privilege before, was more than a little star struck when she appeared on stage, black-suited and dripping in diamantes (I think they were diamantes but this was Barbra Streisand, they may have been real).

However despite the standing ovation at the show’s opening, by the end many were left a little cold. Not through any lack of her unmatched singing talent, but at the sparse time she spent in the spotlight.

After rising onto the stage she launched into ‘On a Clear Day You Can See Forever’ - from the 1970 film - delivered with the backing of the 60-piece orchestra set in the pits at either side.

We were then treated to the vintage Nice and Easy (made a hit by Sinatra in 1960) and Rogers & Hart's 1940 Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered.

The audience was hooked and it showed, cheers of “We love you Barbra” did not fall on deaf ears, “what was that? Why thank you darlin’” she replied.

However after the fanfare start the show cooled off pretty quickly.

To me it was a treat just to sit and take it all in, and lap up every second of real-flesh Barbra viewing. Not everyone agreed however.

Before long we were introduced to sister Rozzi who after singing a duet with her ‘that’s-who-we-came here-to see-love’ sister, launched into her own set with Barbra nowhere to be seen.

Nice, but could you get back on please Babs, after all some have parted with a fortnight’s salary for tonight.

No such luck, we were then treated to a solo performance by jazz trumpeter Chris Botti, again pleasant but still no sign of the star.

Botti was shortly joined by a violinist, can’t remember her name and if I’m honest I wasn’t really paying attention, and I was not alone - the audience began to file up the steps to the bar.

In my box my colleagues started milling in the room behind catching up with gossip at tables.

She’s back! - finally, but what's this? we are shown a video highlighting the singing talents of her son Jason Gould - it was back to the bar for many.

Jason then joins mum for a duet, at least we get to hear Barbra though, that is who we came to see after all.

But it’s not long before she is off again, Jason eagerly takes the stage with three - yes three - of his own songs as mum sits in the dimmed background, the spotlight firmly on son.

“She’s not on much is she?” -  the guy sitting next to me.

Two hours after the start Babs managed to rescue the situation even if she was joined once again by both sister and son for Leonard Bernstein's Let The Garden Grow.

There followed a finale of Some Other Time from On The Town and to rapturous applause she took her bows and exited from the back.

There were a few disappointed faces and the general feel was she did not spend enough time on stage.

However, that said, it was a good show - I didn’t come away feeling like I had the time of my life - but it was a good show.

It was an opportunity of a lifetime to see Barbra Streisand in the flesh, and there is no doubt her voice leaves modern singer wannabes in the shadow of her greatness.

To hear Barbra Streisand sing The Way We Were live is something I shall never forget.

But I think the general consensus was more Babs, less unknown family please.

Oh and I have a confession - I took a picture, but it was before the show so I’m hoping it doesn't count!

A huge thanks to eBay for their hospitality.

  • Barbra Streisand plays the 02 on 3 June, then Amsterdam, Cologne and Berlin

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