Special to the Journal
Editor’s Note: Barbra Streisand is such a dominant force as a singer that most people don’t realize that she avoided performing for nearly 30 years after forgetting the words to a song. Despite that extended vacation, Streisand is on tour and is receiving rave reviews. This week marks the release of her latest album, Encore.
Streisand had plenty to do while avoiding the stage for all those years – she also found huge success on Broadway, as a movie actress and as a director.
But last week the Jewish icon performed in Boston, and Journal board member Matthew Swartz, along with his wife Allison, was in the audience – and backstage after the show, and Matt was kind enough to share his thoughts.
I was one of the lucky 30,000 fans who spent an evening with Barbra Streisand, and one of the fewer who went backstage. Meeting Streisand after her performance on August 16 at the Boston Garden, her first time there in about a decade, was a breathtaking experience. Though I had met her before, since Streisand is related to my wife, it still amazes me how much this amazing artist has accomplished over the past fifty years.
As soon as she walked onto the stage, the crowd gave her a standing ovation. Her backdrop, a huge screen displaying her career in both film and music from the 60’s on, stunned the crowd. “Funny Girl” and “Yentl” were among those featured. She sang every crowd pleaser, including “Memories” and “Stony End,” some of my favorites. Sitting second row center on the floor gave me a sense of a small intimate show, which was perfect for hearing and seeing Streisand up-close.
While waiting in line backstage to see Streisand, I had the pleasure of seeing Deval Patrick, who I thanked for his help a few years back with the prevention program in Dorchester that I run called YouthLink. My wife and I had the pleasure of meeting with Streisand alone for a short time and despite having just performed for hours she had so much grace and the looks of a superstar. Streisand is still on tour throughout the U.S. if any fans missed the Boston show.
Streisand made her strong political views known during her performance. A democrat, she voiced her firm support of Hillary. In her aggressive criticisms of Donald Trump, she jokingly thanked any republicans or “Trumpers” in the audience for purchasing tickets despite their political differences. Though perhaps some of her fans may have preferred to hear more of her music rather than her politics, that didn’t seem to dampen the energy at the Garden.
Upon her exit, Streisand’s last instruction to the crowd was to “Vote!”