Fan blog: When Babs Came to Town

By Noga Gur Arieh

Have you ever seen a real, live legend? I have. This Saturday, I went to see Barbra Streisand live in concert. Earlier in the week, she landed in Israel to participate in President Shimon Peres’s birthday celebration. But unlike many of the other famous guests, Streisand spent the week in the Holy Land, toured the country and gave us a once in a lifetime opportunity to see her performing live.

She does not perform very often. In fact, this performance was roughly her 100th concert ever. But that was just another reason to pay an unreasonable amount of money to go see her. Though I’m not a die-hard fan and only know a few of her songs, I waved goodbye to 750 shekels for two seats (one for my Grandma, the true fan in the family) and what I knew would be an opportunity worth taking. After all, as Fanny Brice once said: “I gotta fly one, I gotta try once, only can die once. Right, sir?”

She was everything I imagined, and more: Glamorous and larger than life, but also modest, full of appreciation to the 16,000 people who came all the way to Yafo just for her. She loves her fans, and her fans love her. She has the remarkable quality of making a single member of a large audience feel like this is a one-on-one private meeting with her. True, she cannot reach the high notes she could in her “Funny Girl” days, but it doesn’t make her voice any less beautiful nor her songs any less unforgettable.

From “Don’t Rain On My Parade” to “Woman In Love,” I enjoyed my favorites and discovered new ones. But even more than the songs, I appreciated the monologues in between. In two and a half hours, Streisand opened her life to us, told stories from her past, and shared thoughts about her present and her future. She sat comfortably on a chair, looked straight at each and every one of us, and revealed herself with grace and humor (“Ever since I forgot the lyrics to three of my songs during a concert, I have a teleprompter. I just hope you are still looking at me, and not the thingy “or “If I had known there would be people sitting on the sides, I would get my nose done.”). She told us about her family, and even screened a video her son, Jason, made for her birthday, right before he joined her on stage.. She also answered questions from the audience, making an effort to pronounce the names and cities correctly, with an Israeli accent. “Now that you have a Doctorate, what should we call you?” someone asked. “Just ‘What’s up, Doc?’” She replied with a wink.

Babs (after such a jaw-dropping performance, we`re on first name terms) has this remarkable quality of being so human (asking us if we mind waiting a few seconds while she finishes her cookie, right after intermission) down to earth with a healthy sense of humor (Playing the 2010 hit, “Barbra Streisand” by Duck Sauce, during intermission) while remaining larger than life. When she sang “Hatikvah,” the Israeli national anthem, there was something in the air that cannot be described in words.

Here, in Israel, we do not take international concerts for granted. Because of controversy or outside pressure, big names do not to stop by very often. We appreciate every singer, musician and actor who lands here mostly because, lately, it has become a political statement. But Barbra was more than an artist performing here. She is one of us, true Israel fan and a proud Jewish symbol. Not just an actress, or a singer, but a true star. She probably won’t read this, but I still want to thank her. So thank you, Barbra, for making Saturday night unforgettable. Thank you for being the wonderful person

Comments for this News article

Hi Barbra!!! You are just a wonderful person. I would love to meet you in person one day.
Just to say how much I love and admire you!!! May God bless you and your Family always! My name is Adriana, and I am Brasilian.

Really Barbera is not only a good singer but also a loving personality and supports many humanitarian causes through the Streisand Foundation. She has been a committed environ mentalist for many years; she endowed a chair in environmental studies in 1987 and donated her twenty-four acre estate to the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy. In addition, Ms. Streisand was the lead funder to the Clinton Climate Change Initiative. This effort will bring together a consortium of major cities around the world to drive down greenhouse gas emissions. She is a leading spokesperson and fundraiser for social and political causes close to her heart and has often dedicated proceeds from her live concert performances to benefit programs she supports.
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Re:

What can I say, I love Barbra, I've seen The WAy WE Were a thousand times, and I always cry at the same scenes. There will never be another voice as Bab's voice, she is unique, marvelous, complete and endless.
Thank you Barbra for being so fantastic and for giving me so many years of happiness and true feelings.
My best
Nora

How truly thrilling it must have been for the people fortunate enough to see Barbra on her latest series of concerts through the US, Europe and Israel, I know that I still can't believe that I saw her live when he came to Australia with her Timeless concerts. She is certainly due a rest but I hope so very much that there will be a DVD or recording of these concerts so the rest of us can share in some of the joy that the concert goers felt. Needless to say that I am holding my breath for Release Me 2.

Wonderful story!

When Barbra came to Berlin

Barbra gave a stunning performance in Berlin on 15th June.
I already had the great opportunity to see Barbra live in London at the first concert of her “micro”-tour (as she called it). But time in London passed so quickly with all the excitement.
I was lucky enough to see and hear again in my hometown Berlin.

In Berlin from the first moment on we knew THIS IS SPECIAL. Barbra seemed to feel comfortable on the stage, she looked beautifully in her golden dress, she greeted the audience with a warm welcome, also reminding the – for us as well as for her - unforgettable concert in the Waldbühne six years ago.
We were standing on our feet before she sang a note, after each song and also in between Smiling. We were singing along with “Woman in love” “Enough is enough” and “Guilty”. She had changed the program a little.
I was happy to hear her perform some of her wonderful ballads (some of which she didn’t sing in a long time) like “Didn’t we”, “Bewitched”, “Funny Valentine”, and my personal favourites “The way he makes me feel” from Yentl, the awesome “My Man”, … (I could as well count them all now) which she interpreted so beautifully.
Barbra’s voice sounded gorgeous. The power in her voice, the long notes she holds, the range and the dynamics she brings into each song, her presence on stage, the ability to put all that together is a marvellous gift she has. Each song gets alive, she tells us the story.
And talking in between about the way she was and is, Barbra made each one in the audience feel like just sitting and having a tea with her.
At the very end (the fourth encore) Barbra seemed honestly moved when she said the words (that were probably not written on the teleprompter) that she “would probably not sing here again” and she will never forget us. Good bye! I was close to tears. And then she sang a wonderful rendition of “Send in the Clowns”!
I was overwhelmed.

Coming home with numerous Barbra-accessories I started collecting a mountain of newspaper articles mentioning Barbra’s Berlin Concert – all without exception positively and really lovely written. I even thought about going to Israel. But then I hesitated to do so. I read this nice review by Craig Hall (barbranews) who wrote “I have to be honest... Germany had the best and most interactive audiences... so they will be hard to beat...” (and I didn’t want to hear the rest). I decided to keep this wonderful evening in mind as it was – unforgettable.
While Barbra sang in Israel, I went – reminding Barbra 2007 - to the Waldbühne (wearing my blue Barbra-Shirt). When the orchestra started to rise once, twice… until the whole audience did with them, sorry folks, in my mind it was LA OLA for Barbra.

So, dear Barbra, thank you so much for this amazing concert, for the many ways you shared your talents with us, for all the things you support and believe in. Never stop singing. As soon as you overcome your “flight fright”, please do come back to Berlin.
Right now I only keep asking: What’s up next, Doc?
Take care!

With Love
Anja

I've seen Barbra once, that concert at Soldier Field in Chicago, late 60's, what I think was called her Million Dollar Baby Tour, later cut but Chicago remaining a stop along the way. We sat outdoors in folding chairs, the best seats possible, $12 per ticket (and we worried we wouldn't be able to afford that!). It was a wonderful evening. We waited, after the concert ended, in an area fenced off around her trailer, waiting to see if she'd come out; she did, holding a dog, patting at her hair (now very short; under a wig during the show?), asking if we liked her new haircut. A magical evening. Barbra, for me, has been the vocalist against whom all others have been judged (from my perspective) for decades now. My introduction to her was when my Mom and I were riding in her car (I was home on break from college, maybe '63), Roy Leonard on WGN Chicago playing "Happy Days," stating after, "That is the saddest song I have ever heard." He identified the singer and I made my way, once in town, to our local record store, heading back to college later with a copy of her first album. When her first and best TV special aired in '64 or '65, I was fortunate enough to watch it in the dorm room of a friend. I've been a fan from first listening. Does anyone recall hearing what might have been the flip side of the "Happy Days" 45, an upbeat alternative recording of "Funny Girl?" I finally found this song on YouTube but would love to see it included, one day, on "Release Me 2." It's a delight. Anyhow, Barbra is the best! And how great was it to see her back on the screen in "Guilt Trip?" She was the perfect counterbalance to her co-star. Great fun!

Dear Noga,
You are the luckiest person in the world. We here in Australia saw Barbra live in Melbourne and Sydney (me back then!) in 2000 and she was then the best and I can only imagine, like a fine wine, has only got better with age. So congratulations for paying the high price and experiencing Barbra Streisand; in song, in life, in love. She is our Barbra and we would be alot poorer without her in our lives.

It's not an expense to see Barbra Streisand sing live, rather it's an investment in the enriching of our lives. My former wife was pregnant with our third child at the second Sydney concert. I have always hoped that the music will have made my sons life richer by being in the presence of greatness; both artistically, morally and love. If I could have afforded it I would have taken my other two children along too, but sadly it wasn't possible. However, ironically, my elder daughter has now become a fan and I have made the promise should Barbra ever return to Australia or visit and perform somewhere we could afford to go, I will take her. Maybe New Zealand?

After many years of deliberation, I had a tattoo made of Barbra's profile on my left bicep, it's has the first two bars of Evergreen bordering it, underlined by my children's names. It's intended as a testament to her unique talent. The voice, the expressions, everything that makes Barbra, Barbra. I have no other tattoo. I honestly believe God sent Barbra Streisand to us as a gift. She was meant to sing and perform. That is her place in our world. And for that we must be grateful.

The golden riches of Barbra's voice, her compassion for mankind, her concern for our planet and her unique gifts on the big screen are reward enough to pay triple the price. So you made the right decision to go, as we did back in the year 2000.

So, dear Barbra, as so many of the fans scream to you from the audience: We love you. I love you. You have made our lives so much richer and for that the price of a seat to share your art for those two hours plus is priceless. You give us so much.

All our love,
Marc (now in Melbourne).

Hi Barbra!!! You are just a wonderful person. I would love to meet you in person one day.
Just to say how much I love and admire you!!! May God bless you and your Family always! My name is Adriana, and I am Brasilian.

I can truly see she made an impression in Israel. That was a beautiful performance and she toured the country itself. I understand she hadn't made a trip there since the '80's. I think it's wonderful that she donated her fathers name to a school there. I know he was an extremely bright person having listened to many interviews of her speaking about him and all of his incredible accomplishments for a man of only 35. I feel it's such a shame that as she stated, his life was cut short at such a young age and I believe it was because earlier in the year or years before he hit his head on a dashboard of a car and that may have caused his death later on and much too early in life. No question from what she has read about his work in college in an extremely upper class education also having earned his PhD. This is something I don't think anyone would ever get over. One thing I do know from what Barbra has stated about him. She's so incredibly intelligent as a person in everyday life, in politics and many other things. Her work shows her incredible attention to detail and excellence and I think her father was definitely the same way. If Barbra had taken the advice of teachers and guidance councelors from her high school, there's no doubt she would have been an incredible teacher at who knows? Maybe Columbia University where her father attended college. She would have been just like the great teacher she played in "The Mirror Has Two Faces" .. She's extremely intelligent. Her motives in politics, her motto in life. She seems to be the person who lives life to the fullest. I saw Barbra on Piers Morgan and I loved the way she stated that she lives for the moment. Well, she couldn't have been much more on target. She has an incredible body of work dating back to the 1960's and from the moment she sang, there blossomed an icon. I feel that she as a person is just as interesting as Barbra the entertainer. I cry when I listen to her music because it's incredibly heart felt. I hear the pain in the sad songs, the joy in the hopefulness of what she hopes this world will come to, that undoubtedly is Peace and equality. That she stresses in everything she does, whether it's her music, movies or just Barbra on a talk show expressing her feelings about politcs. Her politcs are the same as mine. I don't understand to this day why people are so against Democrats. They do good for people. The Republicans are the ones who screw up the country. The only one who didn't was Abraham Lincoln. What a lesson learned there. He signed one of the most important documents in the world. The Emancipation Proclimation. If that had not been brought up when it was, I shutter to think what may have happened to us as a country. Too many wars have been fought, too many people hurt. I love the messages she sends out that we need change. I'll never forget when I saw an old interview she made with Gloria Steinem. She stated if we change ourselves, we can change the world little by little. That of course means stop the hatred, stop the wars, stop the ridiculous wars on religion and fighting over God. No one owns God. He exists yet for some reason just about every single war that has ever been fought in this country is because of religion. Religious persecution. I found it incredibly interesting that she mentioned and I never would have known about this had she not mentioned this and we got word of it in the United States. I hate the fact that the press put in headlines. "Streisand slams Jewish laws not allowing women to pray in peace!" This was a headline on Twitter and I immediately read it. I was thinking, wow, how awful and from there I started doing my research. How awful that men were hurling chairs at these lovely women wanting to pray with their shawls on and peacefully. They're being treated horridly. I'm happy that she made a speech. Now the way the press portrayed it made it sound as if Barbra was screaming at the top of her lungs and protesting with a sign because she wanted to be heard. It of course was a lie. She did state something in a beautiful speech. In a calm, cool, collected manner, which is Barbra. Barbra once stated she hated giving interviews to magazines. I definitely see now exactly what she meant. They made it sound like she went on a tirade. She spoke eloquently and peacefully. She was extremely respectful. She has such grace and class about her. She also knows how to get her Brooklyn on as well though, so that's okay. This subject alone made me realize more and more she really hates injustice or inequality and this beautiful awareness of heart disease for women and the statistics is amazing. She definitely puts her money where her mouth is. She raised millions and now there is much needed research going on because of her. She's using her name in a very powerful way and for that I applaud her. She would be my #1 person I would ever want to have as a dinner guest as she had listed her top 5. She's amazing and to have a conversation with her about life and what is to become of our future would be more than amazing. Thanks again for the beautiful concert which I did see as doing her Back to Brooklyn tour. Beautiful voice and incredible show.What a performance. Thanks Barbra for bringing attention to as you say What Matters Most. I love that song as well. You're the best.

It was so special to me, the first time I saw her, that I don''t have a memory of the first three songs. It is a magical event.

Beautiful review! Barbra was here in The Netherlands also a week. She visited Rijksmuseum but also The Anne Frank House and the Jewish Historical Museum. She enjoyed it here very much. We are proud to have had Barbra Streisand here. And also ofcourse the two beautiful concerts she gave! Thank you Barbra!

Roselinde Oosterhoff