Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Barbra Streisand at the O2

Barbra Streisand at the O2

How many performing artists would of modern times would you crawl across broken glass to get a ticket to see? For me there is only one – the magnificent Barbra Streisand. In fact you didn’t need to subject yourself to such discomfort – just to dig deep into your savings to find the £250 (or more) that a decent ticket cost. Money well spent? Undoubtedly!

I was first aware of Barbra Streisand back in 1963 when I heard “Cry me a river” from her first solo album. I bought the album and was captivated by her voice. Contrast from that album “A Sleeping Bee” with “Happy days are here again” and you will see the range and originality which was quite extraordinary for a woman of 21. Roll forward an astonishing 44 years and the voice has changed a little but the unique ability to modulate a phrase is as strong as ever – as is the supreme musical mastery. In the twentieth century, for me, only Frank Sinatra and Streisand immediate owned a song once they had sung it. Sure other good singers have sung “People”, “The Way We Were”, “You don’t bring me flowers” and the rest. But they only borrowed the songs – Barbra owns them.

At the July 18th London concert there was a mix of standards and more recent material such as “Smile” from the 2003 “The Movie Album”. I loved it all with perhaps “A Cockeyed Optimist” the high point. The show was unpretentious with little to take away from the main attraction. I could have done without the Broadway singers (four men) who added little to the evening – but that is a minor quibble. La Streisand was in superb from and her script was inoffensive and at times quite funny and moving. She’s still a Funny Girl at heart and whilst her life and her career has had its ups and downs and with Old Blue Eyes gone there really is just one Megastar in the firmament – and that’s Barbra.