Streisand, the Love Poet, Enthralls Philadelphia Audience


The audience for the Barbra Streisand concert in Philadelphia on Saturday night was verklempt (Yiddish for choked with emotion) at seeing their idol in person before the show even started. Some fans paid homage to the superstar by dressing in her inimitable style -wearing sequins, wrapped in feather boas, carrying an Oscar, or ordering their husband to dress up. The living legend held the crowd in thrall for the entire concert. BARBRA: THE MUSIC...THE MEM'RIES...THE MAGIC! Tour, with a trimmed down orchestra of 11 members and 3 backup singers, was a flawless walk down memory lane beginning with "The Way We Were". The singer, who is now 74, can still hold a note forever which made it easy to ignore the occasional raspiness or slightly more limited vocal range.

One comes to a Barbra Streisand concert for the music, but stays for the romance. As one fan called her, she's the "love poet." No, she didn't write all the words of her songs, but she sang the greatest love songs of all time. She gave hope to those who want more, strength to those undergoing a breakup, and encouragement for those that need to move on. It is hard for millennials, who are searching for love in a world dominated by Tinder and hook-ups, to understand what Streisand's songs and on-screen relationships represent to the older generations of women. Perhaps, there is no better way to show the evolution of love than to contrast the drama laden courtships depicted in Streisand's movies such as Way We Were" or "A Star is Born" with Beyonce's "Lemonade," which is rumored to about her husband's adultery.

The night was not only about mem'ries. The diva, who is the only recording artist to have achieved a #1 album for 6 decades, wouldn't stay at the top of her game unless she changes with the times. One of the funniest parts of the night was a short film about the recording of her new album Encore: Movie Partners Sing Broadway. The album, which will be available for purchase on August 26, features her singing Broadway duets with movie stars. Most of the stars such as Hugh Jackman, Alec Baldwin, and Jamie Foxx comically expressed incredulity that Streisand wanted to sing with them. Melissa McCarthy asked the question all of us wanted to know-does she make her employees wear cashmere.

In a delightful surprise, the singer added the act of mentalist Lior Suchard to the program. The gregarious Suchard correctly guessed bank passcodes, first loves, and numbers with charming panache. After the show, the Israeli native explained exactly what a mentalist is. He said, "I am not a psychic. I do speak to the dead, but, for me they never answer back. I don't tell the future. I am also not a magician or illusionist. It is based on the real abilities of the human mind from psychology to non-verbal communication to body language to understanding the way that the mind works. I call it mind algorithms, mathematics of the mind. Basically, I don't know what people are thinking. I know how they think."

I would be remiss if I didn't relay the correct pronunciation of her name. After 50 years, the icon finally decided to tell us during this concert tour it is Streisand with a soft s as in sand not zand. Don't feel bad. Even Siri was saying it wrong. Apple CEO Tim Cook promised her it would be corrected in the next update of Siri. Now if only iTunes would properly pay musicians for streaming their work.