Click photo to enlarge
Photographs and videos of Barbra Streisand are shown on a large screen before she entered the stage at HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif. on Monday, Nov. 5, 2012. (Nhat V. Meyer/Staff)

It was misleading.

Barbra Streisand's show stretched nearly three hours on Monday at the HP Pavilion and the fans sure acted like they'd gotten their money's worth -- which is saying something, given the ticket prices ($98-$503).

But in reality, Babs wasn't all that generous with her own time.

The Brooklyn native gave fans video montages, guest stars, touching family moments (with her son Jason Gould and her sister Roslyn Kind), political chatter and musical collaborations. All of that used up clock, mostly in enjoyable ways, but it left too little time for what really should have been the focus of the night -- Streisand's voice.

The show contained 23 numbers, some of which were medleys. And guest stars appeared on -- or handled -- roughly half. The second set was particularly troublesome, with Streisand going solo on just four of the 13 selections.

Maybe the 70-year-old legend has to organize her shows in such a fashion to protect her voice. If so, it's working -- her voice, when we heard it, came across strong and clear in San Jose.

Following a video/slideshow of vintage Streisand shots, from childhood to early stardom, the singer appeared onstage looking radiant in a black dress dotted with sequins. The conductor commanded the full orchestra, which was divided among two pits mid-stage, and Streisand let it fly on the title track to the Broadway musical "On a Clear Day You Can See Forever." She closed the tune in spectacular fashion, clinging to the last note like it was a winning lottery ticket.


Advertisement

She then made her way to a chair at the front of the stage, next to a small table that held a small vase of red roses, before leaping back up with the quip, "It's hard to sit on sequins." She then went "visiting," walking about the stage to get a better view of the fans, all the while making small talk between the lyrics in a medley of "Nice 'n' Easy" and "That Face." Streisand followed with nice versions of "Didn't We?" and "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered," before beckoning for Il Volvo -- the popular trio of Italian tenors who are all still in their teens.

Streisand sang "Smile" with the trio, then left the pop-opera sensation alone to sing two more pieces, including the late 19th-century classic "O Solo Mio." Il Volo sounded terrific, yet it's hard to fathom how the group will get beyond being pop-opera's version of One Direction. Streisand unwittingly underscored the situation when she exclaimed at the end of Il Volo's showcase, "Take that, Justin Bieber!"

The guest stars routine got out of hand in the second set. Streisand opened with a sweeping solo version of "My Man," but the next seven numbers all featured guest stars. First up was Chris Botti, a Streisand favorite.

"He's really a fine musician and fine looking -- and that's a winning combination," said Streisand of the contemporary jazz trumpeter who once sold skimpy "Botti Call" women's underwear at his shows.

Botti was well-suited for the occasion, first duetting with Streisand on a few tunes (including an especially moving "My Funny Valentine") then spelling Streisand for a pair of cuts. When Streisand returned she called out son Jason Gould. It's a good thing Gould, whose father is Elliott Gould, has friends and family in high places, because his solo version of "Masquerade" made it pretty evident he probably didn't earn this showcase on vocal merit alone.

The family reunion continued when Streisand invited her sister, Roslyn Kind, out for a strange, strained duet on a mash-up of "Happy Days Are Here Again" and "Get Happy."

Fortunately, Streisand closed the evening on her own, with a lovely version of "Some Other Time," from the 1944 Broadway musical "On the Town."

I indeed look forward to seeing Streisand "Some Other Time." And when it happens, hopefully she'll leave some of her friends and family members behind.

Follow Jim Harrington at http://twitter.com/jimthecritic, www.facebook.com/jim.bayareanews and http://blogs.mercurynews.com/aei/category/concerts.