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Out of the ampi-theaters and into the Village Vanguard. Who'da thunk it? Well, Barbra did.
on May 9, 2010
Whether it was nostalgia or just a great idea to promote her new record with Diana Krall, Barbra's one night at the Village Vanguard, a 123-seat, 74-year-old jazz club in Greenwich Village, captures an intimate example of her ability to connect with an audience. I live in NYC, but wasn't lucky enough to attend. However, I got to see Ms. Streisand in 2006 at Madison Square Garden and was front and center as a kid at Arizona's Sun Devil Stadium in March 1976 when she put on a one-day concert event to film for her "A Star is Born," film. In both cases, the audience of thousands just shut up and listened when she sang. In the case of Sun Devil Stadium that included a lot of drugged out teens and adults there to rock out to Peter Frampton and other acts.
Here she scales back her famous voice and personality to fit the venue and gives back to her fans a sample of what it was like in the early '60s to have heard her sing in one of the many nightclubs around the US where she got her start. Along the way, she covers a few of her standards, but more importantly some others that are not so famous, but equally great. "Spring is here," which she once sang on the Tonight Show is a highlight. Just a beautiful song of hope, love and loss. She's in great voice here and hits some amazing notes. If she misses a couple of others, who cares? She certainly goes for it on several songs like the "Way We Were." That's part of the experience of seeing someone live. I think it's good she didn't clean everything up too much in post-production. And what makes her so great is her ability to act songs.
Along the way, she introduces the rich and famous who attended, along with the lucky contest winners. This include President Clinton, his wife, our Secretary of State, Nicole Kidman, SJP, Donna Karan, and her husband, James Brolin. She also introduces or is introduced by, a lot of people who where or are old friends and have stayed with her for almost 50 years. One of the things that comes across about Ms. Streisand is her incredible loyalty to the people who are loyal to her. She doesn't say much about it, but she also uses her talent and resources to support multiple charitable causes through her own foundation. She puts her money where her mouth is. No matter what you think of her politics, Barbra Streisand tries to make the world a better place. If we were all as socially conscious, the world would be a much better place.
So, if you're just a casual fan thinking this might be a boring paint-by-numbers event that was thrown together to promote her album, you'd make a mistake not to buy it. It's just like being there in the audience. It was a master-stroke by Ms. Streisand to do this and making things that are old entirely new again. Oh, and she also looks nice.
And to the person who said her husband looks bored - sorry, I honestly don't know what you're talking about. An amazing young actor named Ashton (HBO's The Pacific, and A History of Violence) Holmes sits to his right during the performance, by the way.
Overall, the evening presents an eclectic mix of people and songs. The star likely planned it that way and comes up with something her fans will love and even casual fans will really enjoy. Now, if she will just consider making another movie or two worthy of her great talent ... :)