Willie Solomons writes from New York: Until the guy in the bar on E42nd Street told me so, I had forgotten Streisand was 70. Barbra Streisand three-score and ten? What was he trying to do? Make me feel his age?
He was a session horn player until his lip went. He said he’d been in the cubicle when Streisand recorded I Think It’s Going To Rain Today with Randy Newman on piano. That must have been 1970, he said. It was.
I was thinking of him as I sat front centre of that 19,000 seat monster the Barclays Centre in Brooklyn last week and she did Rain Today and there wasn’t a heart in the whole place that didn’t skip a beat at the magic of that number. It was just like he said it was back in 1970.
On Thursday, this was the girl from Brooklyn back at long last in Brooklyn with a new insight into the power she has always held – the power of vulnerability. She doesn’t do high notes anymore. The low ones have lost that viola-cum-cello mellowness. But the lady doesn’t need them. This was a sold-out homecoming and the audience was sold on her. But this was not a performance relying on an exaggerated Brooklyn accent and local one liners that aren’t funny but get a laugh because they are just that – local.
There were special moments that could have only come from this lady. You should have been there to hear her duet with her son by actor Elliot Gould, Jason Gould. How Deep Is The Ocean is not one you’d write at the top of the script for this intimate evening. But it worked. It was an intimate moment. And the kid (he’s 45 for goodness sake) can sing. Why not? The pedigree already.
But for me, the unexpected thrills. It did it in spades when trumpeter Chris Botti joined her on What’ll I Do? and My Funny Valentine. Botti has that same genius – the ability to find phrases and tones that weren’t there last time as if the listener is exploring a number with the musician. Remember this is the guy who jumped college to tour with Sinatra and Buddy Rich and worked for a decade with Paul Simon. Imagine then the sound and the intimate moments when Botti and Streisand with Bill Ross’s exquisitely rehearsed and in-there orchestra let the audience eavesdrop on something special.
That’s what the homecoming was all about. Something special. A fine musician, a still wonderful voice and each one of us in the Barclays Centre full of memories even if we had not been there first time round.
If you want to know what the audience really thought, then you should have heard them roar welcome when Streisand broke into As If We Never Said Goodbye.
This was Brooklyn returns to Brooklyn. It rarely gets better than that.