Babs kicked off the run with Trump digs, classic hits, and sparkly duets
Barbra Streisand brought her A Game (does she have any other?) when she kicked off a nine-city tour at a star-studded, sold-out show at Los Angeles’ Staples Center Tuesday night. The EGOT queen packed the stage with glam: celeb duet partners—from her new album Encore: Movie Partners Sing Broadway, out Aug. 26—vintage photos, snappy anecdotes, and Trump needling. Noticeably absent? Cell phones. Usually at a show, the audience is a sea of lights, but besides a few occasional flashes, the crowd sat at rapt attention throughout. At one point, Babs brought mentalist Lior Suchard onstage to do some magic tricks—perhaps for a little vocal rest? But otherwise, the format of the show was fairly traditional and felt intimate, despite being in the sold out arena. Her candidness didn’t feel canned, and by the time fans left, merch stands were running on empty.
Here are the five best moments from Streisand’s “Barbra: The Music… The Mem’ries… The Magic!” tour kickoff.
1. Politics as (un)usual
“It’s funny. I always seem to go on these little tours during elections season,” Streisand teased, as she went on to perform “Happy Days Are Here Again,” a song that she had performed for three sitting presidents: John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Bill Clinton and, “I hope, in a few months, the next President Clinton.” The crowd went wild. She also made it clear mid-song that she’d be bummed to see our current president go. “Don’t get me wrong, I love Obama!”
The longtime environmental activist also took digs at Donald Trump’s stance on climate change—“We have to be proactive, vote for congressmen and a president who doesn’t believe climate change is a hoax”— before belting out her 1964 classic “People,” saying she recently found out that according to science, people are 99.9% the same, but “The other .1% is Donald Trump.”
2. Star-studded duets
Eleven-time-Grammy winner Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds jointed Streisand onstage to croon “Evergreen (Love Theme from A Star is Born),” off her last duets album, 2014’s Partners. Babs said she was first enamored of him after hearing the soundtrack from Waiting to Exhale, while Babyface spent most of their banter apologizing for being so incredibly starstruck during their first meeting that he didn’t remember a word he — or she, for that matter! — said.
Uber-crooner Seth McFarlane added gorgeous harmonies alongside Streisand on the Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory classic “Pure Imagination.” And Jamie Foxx hit the stage for a duet of The Sound of Music’s “Climb Every Mountain,” which also appears on Streisand’s forthcoming Encore. He addressed the crowd: “Make some noise right now for Barbra!” before offering up a few falsetto bars of “The Way We Were.” (If you’re wondering, Foxx gives the Mother Superior a real run for her money. Babs agreed, calling the singer: “Deep. Soulful. Magic.”)
3. She played the hits
In Act 1, Babs celebrated a range of songs from her 10 albums that hit No. 1 on the charts, but she didn’t hold back on the classics. She opened with “The Way We Were” — “Save the best for first, right?” — and later in the show, told fans about the memoir she’s working on. “I’m a person who likes to look forward and not back,” she said. “So I figured I better do it now before my memory becomes misty and more watercolor.”
Over the course of the night, the icon went on to perform “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers,” “Don’t Rain on my Parade,” and an emotional hands-clasped-in-prayer-around-the-mic rendition of “Papa, Can you Hear Me?” from the 1983 film Yentl.
In Act 2, Streisand hit all the right notes on Broadway favorites like Stephen Sondheim’s “Being Alive,” “Children Will Listen,” and “Losing My Mind”—and an emotional duet spliced together with footage of the late Anthony Newley on “Who Can I Turn To (When Nobody Needs Me).”
4. Photo finish
Throughout the show, Babs projected images from her favorite films, album covers, and videos from the making of her newest duets album. Encore features tunes with the likes of Foxx, MacFarlane, Chris Pine, Daisy Ridley, Alec Baldwin, Anne Hathaway, and more. And in the behind-the-scenes clip of recording “Anything You Can Do” with Melissa McCarthy, the Ghostbusters star asked: “Is it true you have a Starbucks in your house?” Babs answered, “It is.” McCarthy continued, “And that all the employees have to wear cashmere?” before Babs burst out laughing.
5. Color commentary
But it was her frank descriptions of album covers that made fans roar. When the iconic A Star is Born cover popped up onscreen, showing the image of Babs and Kris Kristofferson, she smiled. “If you’re wondering what I was wearing during that shoot… It was musk”. At one point, she showed two pictures of The Way We Were cover and mocked the photoshopped version. “See my nose there?” she asked, pointing at the cover that eventually ran. “It’s not mine. If I wanted a nose job, I’d go to a doctor not a retoucher. We’ve been through a lot together, me and that bump. The record company promised to fix it. I’m still waiting.”
Streisand’s tour continues through the end of August before Encore debuts Aug. 26.