Barbra Streisand was full of Brooklyn pride as she belted out well-known tunes with passion during a concert at the newly built Barclays Center.
Thursday night’s three-hour show was Streisand’s return to her hometown, where she’s also performing Saturday on her “Back to Brooklyn” tour.
The 70-year-old told the crowd of 18,000 that the last time she performed solo in the New York City borough was “on somebody’s stoop on Pulaski Street” as an 8-year-old.
She entered the stage in a shimmery black blazer and long skirt, holding her hands close to the microphone as she hit the right notes on more than two dozen songs, including “People,” “Evergreen” and “The Way We Were.”
“Hello Brooklyn,” she yelled. “Who said you can’t come home again, right? Just Thomas Wolfe.”
A video from “summer 1979” played on a large screen as people from Streisand’s neighborhood talked about the singer, commenting on her talents, demeanor, family and even her nose.
“Purely a reflection of Brooklyn,” one woman said. As the clip closed another woman said: “Come back to Brooklyn and give us a concert.”
“It might have taken me 33 years, but I’m finally here,” she said to the crowd.
“I left Brooklyn to pursue my dreams. Brooklyn quite never left me,” she said at another time.
Streisand played with the audience, often telling jokes and taking in the many screams of “I love you, Barbra!”
The icon looked to the front row at a fan wearing one of her T-Shirts.
“You buy it in the shop? It’s cheaper online,” she said, as people laughed. She looked to another in the crowd: “You look like Dick Cheney. See this is what happens when I see the audience, it’s not good.”
The stage beamed with purple lights, as an orchestra of 30-plus played in a pit where small blue lights were strung around them.
Streisand performed sitting and standing, as a small table stood next to her where flowers and a mug with chicken soup were placed (she said she woke up with a cold).
Ahead of her performance fans submitted questions to Streisand, who answered several of them onstage. One asked if she was aware that contemporary singers lip sync.
“I’ve heard about that. I could never do it because I’m so bad at it. So I have to apologize because I have to sing live,” she said as the audience roared.
That question was followed with: “I’d love to know what you think of Mitt Romney’s promise to fire Big Bird.”
“I love Big Bird and I hope no one tells Romney how to get to Sesame Street or Pennsylvania Avenue,” she said as the crowd cheered even louder. “He’s a good actor. He’s a good actor. A chameleon.
That wasn’t Streisand’s only political moment. The Barack Obama supporter said she taped Thursday night’s vice presidential debates and couldn’t “wait to go home to watch.”
“I’m not going to tell you who to vote for, but … if you believe in affordable health care and women’s rights … if you want to move forward and not back, you know who to vote for,” she said.
Streisand was joined onstage by trumpeter Chris Botti, Italian operatic trio Il Volo and her 45-year-old son Jason Gould, asking him before they sang a duet: “Do you need anything, like, a sweater? You need some chicken soup?”
He earned a standing ovation as his mother looked on, gasping “Oh my God.”
She remembered late singer Donna Summer by performing their duet “No More Tears (Enough Is Enough).” She also paid tribute to her late friend – composer Marvin Hamlisch – as she sang “The Way We Were,” saying “this is for you” before giving a rousing rendition of the tune.
When she performed “You’re the Top,” Streisand changed the lyrics, namedropping fellow Brooklynite Jay-Z, who performed eight shows at the Barclays Center last week. She sang lyrics like: “You’re a Brooklyn Net, on a private jet” and “it’s an accent you can’t drop.”