“The people’s goddess is here tonight!” exulted Bette Midler as she moved across the stage in her distinctive part-wiggle, part-strut. “Here to uplift like a boob job for your soul!” Midler is one of those rare creatures who can act, write, sing, dance, tell jokes and generally hold any audience in the palm of her hand. A star.
Backed up by a tight band and a trio of sassy fringe-clad backup dancers, Midler delivered the full gamut. Highlights included an over-the-top rendition of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ “I Put a Spell on You” in Winnie from Hocus Pocus drag and a surprising rendition of Leonard Cohen’s pessimistic protest song “Everybody Knows.” One thing we didn’t get was mermaid-in-a-wheelchair Delores DeLago, who was represented by a touching memorial tribute video.
Of course, there was “Wind Beneath my Wings” and “The Rose.” But the ballad standout was TLC’s “Waterfalls,” rendered as a slowed-down heartfelt ballad about human fallibility, reminding us that, along with the wit and the show tunes, Midler can still unleash soulful power. Then, of course, it was back to the Sophie Tucker shtick in a showgirl outfit or whatever else strikes her fancy. Because they don’t call her “The Divine” for nothing.★★★★✩
Photos by Linda Evans