First Night: A star reborn with a little help from her analyst: Barbra Streisand; Wembley Arena

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The Independent Online
ENJOY? they did. In the pounds 260 front-row seats they didn't, as John Lennon once suggested, rattle their jewellery rather than clap. They simply went sedately bananas.

Herself came down an elegant staircase in her black empire-line dress on to a stage designed as a luxury Malibu mansion, with chaise longue, marble style pillars, fireplace and silk drapes, and sang 'As If We Never Said Goodbye'.

They had waited 28 years for Barbra to sing again, years in which a combination of film work, stage fright, political fund-raising and unresolved relationships kept her from performing anything but charity events.

Last night, she looked well below her 52 years and her singing voice was still what lyricist Don Black described as 'liquid diamonds' as she went through much of her repertoire from Funny Girl onwards.

And what a mighty curious, though ultimately winning, show this was. The songs were linked by lengthy discussions with an offstage analyst about her problems with relationships and her history of therapy.

There were screen clips from her films, even screen clips of some of her high school friends. And bizarrely, three very visible autocues gave her and a bewildered section of the audience the lyrics not only to all the songs she sang, but also the therapy sketches and the Brooklyn Jewish wisecracks, never quite so funny when you literally see them coming a few seconds before she says them.

Star quality is indefinable, but it doesn't usually invade the furnishings. Last night though, thanks to Miss Streisand, the Wembley Arena had class.

The stylish set transformed and domesticated the ambience and at her insistence the arena was carpeted to give it intimacy. You even queued in style. She had insisted that canopies be put up outside.

Hours before the concert, there seemed to be improvised concerts all over Wembley with versions of People driving many a regular customer out of the local Wimpy bars.

In the interval, the well-heeled and well dressed fans were gossiping about the latest rumour, that Barbra might now run for the Senate - though presumably oot under the banner of democracy, equality and pounds 260 a ticket.

Miss Streisand told how she had always wanted to sing again in London and has deliberately started her world tour here. Afterwards fans were calling her gorgeous, wonderful, charismatic. It was a notable contrast with her mother who had asked her before she left the States: 'Why would anybody pay that much to see you sing?'

'Perhaps they like me,' Barbra snapped back. At the most expensive and fastest selling series of concerts in British concert history, they certainly seemed to. It was a schmaltzy night, but it was a classy one too.

(Photograph omitted)

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