By Joey Guerra – The Houston Chronicle
Barbra Streisand leaves little room for error when she’s onstage.
Her Sunday night show at Toyota Center was an exercise in perfectionism. Tasteful tea sets sat on tables. Flowers were tastefully arranged. A waitress in a black apron refreshed the tea during intermission.
Streisand herself clicked on an electric candle during the introduction to “Papa, Can You Hear Me?” from “Yentl.”
A large teleprompter hung above the audience halfway across the floor. Every song lyric, anecdote and aside scrolled by, including Streisand’s reference to Killen’s Barbecue in Pearland.
It was endearingly quirky but left no room for spontaneity. But you don’t attend a Streisand show for surprises. She sang every anticipated song and hit every expected talking point. It was less concert and more theatrical revue: “Streisand: My Life in Songs, Movies and Album Covers.”
She sang beautifully, and a throaty rasp added depth and character to her voice. She talked politics and climate change, made grandma jokes about cell phones social media. (“A tweet was what a bird does.”)
“I did want to see a woman in the White House. I think it will happen one day,” she said amid cheers and a loud, single boo.
“It’s not about male or female. It’s simply who is the best person for the job”
This was Streisand’s first time in Houston and in Texas, which she said she’d only seen “in the movies and on TV.” She strutted onstage in sequins, a black cowboy hat (which she quickly removed) and uttered “y’all” a couple of times before sliding into “The Way We Were.”
She acknowledged several familiar faces in the crowd, including legendary boxer George Foreman, film director Robert Rodriguez and President George and Barbara Bush, who sat near the top of the venue and earned a standing ovation.
The set list spanned her six decades of No. 1 albums, an astonishing feat that includes this year’s “Encore: Movie Partners Sing Broadway.” She saved “People” and “Don’t Rain on My Parade” for the end, of course, though almost every song drew a standing ovation.
The Carole King-penned “Being at War With Each Other” was accompanied by past and present images of civil injustices. You could hear the crowd sniffle during “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers.” And she ably handled the disco grooves of “Woman in Love” and “No More Tears (Enough is Enough).”
She soared on Broadway classics “Being Alive” from “Company,” “Children Will Listen” from “Into the Woods” and Act I closer “Papa, Can You Hear Me?”
It’s been said time and again, but Streisand is still very much, in so many ways, like buttah.