Saturday, November 3, 2012

A Feeling Deep In Your Soul (Stage Review: Barbra Streisand, Back To Brooklyn at MGM Arena)

Sometimes, someone just gives you the ultimate feeling: that feeling deep in your soul, says you were half now you're whole. I have listened to Barbra Streisand all of my life, and I will probably listen to her till the day I die. It was a treat to see her in 1994, and I seriously felt blessed to have seen her then. I thought it would be a once in a lifetime thing. It turns out I will experience the Barbra experience twice in a lifetime. Last night, at the MGM Grand, Barbra proves she has still got it. Harsh critics will argue that the voice isn't what it used to be, and sure the pure dulcet tones have aged and mellowed, but at 70, by God, that voice is still a force of nature, and yes it is still like buttah. The high notes seem clipped, but she still possess such control of it that it hardly matters. It is not a shadow of itself, it is still front and center, and you will thank the lucky stars that you heard it live! The repertoire is almost exactly all from The Great American Songbook, just the way I like it.  It was wonderful to hear her sing "Bewitched Bothered and Bewildered" with its original orchestral and vocal arrangement, and even if that particular  song has been played more than a hundred times on my iPod, last night it felt like I was hearing it for the first time. Another one I loved was her duet with Christ Botti, a fine medlette arrangement of "What'll I Do," and "My Funny Valentine."  The former is a song I always wish she had sung, and I guess I got my wish. Another Irving Berlin song I have always wanted to be Barbra-ized was "How Deep Is The Ocean," a song that I have emotionally connected with. I got half my wish - she duets that with her son, Jason Gould, and while I felt she was just "supporting" him here, it was still a treat to hear her sing Berlin's wonderful lyrics. I can go on and on, there's a rousing "Make Your Garden Grow," a rare gem in "Lost Inside Of You," or a powerful "Some People" paired with "Don't Rain On My Parade," but that's just stating the obvious. I have always felt Peter Matz's arrangement for the single version of "People" was fantastic, and it was nice to see her sing that version last night. One cannot be more effusive when describing a Barbra Streisand evening. My 1994 experience was more of an epiphany, it had the quiet explosive energy. Last night was more familiar, more intimate. I closed my eyes at one point and felt I was at The Bon Soir, and by God, it felt like I was really there, and the world was more innocent. 

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