Midler Takes Audience Through Laughter, Tears
By CURTIS ROSS
TAMPA – Miss M. remains divine, even if she has a bone to pick with Britney, Christina and the like.
“Do any of these girls ever call me up and say `Thank you’?” Bette Midler asked a St. Pete Times Forum crowd of 12,223 Tuesday night. “I opened the door for trashy singers with big” breasts.
Oh, Bette, none of those girls has anything on you – in any department.
There’s really no contemporary performer to compare to Midler. She’s a born comedienne who just happens to have a fine voice and great taste in material.
She had the crowd’s collective sides aching from laughter with a string of jokes from her 92-year-old Sophie character and just as quickly had tears welling during a beautiful reading of Tom Waits’ “Shiver Me Timbers.”
Midler most often was hilarious, loud and not “what you’d call a shrinking flower,” as the song says. During “Shiver Me Timbers,” barefoot Bette seemed tiny, sweet and fragile.
Those moments were not in the majority. After all, the tour is called “Kiss My Brass.”
And Bette was as brassy a broad as you could hope for.
She did her homework, tossing out jokes about Bubba the Love Sponge and Malfunction Junction. She ragged celebrities, politicians and herself, especially in a video segment in which she went before Judge Judy to defend her canceled television series.
The set resembled a Coney Island-type amusement park and Midler made her entrance on a flying carousel horse. She rarely stood still, except while singing the ballads, pacing the stage in high heels while rapid- firing one-liners.
The show was rigorously physical: Let’s see some of these youngsters perform a long set-piece hopping around on a fishtail in a mermaid costume as Midler, 58, did Tuesday.