Sunday Mail, Australia (SA)
SUN 01 MAY 2005, Page I13
Top-brass Miss M simply Divine
By MATT BYRNE
Kiss My Brass Tour,
Adelaide Entertainment Centre, April 26.
In short: Biggest, boldest, brassiest show seen in Adelaide for years – bravo!
THE Big Noise From Winnetka is back!
Bette Midler is an icon of entertainment, the self-confessed cheapest act in town at the hottest price.
Anyone who thought age may have wearied her, smoothed her edges or diluted her acid tongue or killer voice would have been magnificently surprised on Tuesday night.
There was no milder Midler in sight as she entered the Coney Island amusement-park set on a flying carousel horse.
Opening with the title track Kiss My Brass and seguing into the Big Noise From Winnetka, Midler, complete with red-hot band and three fabulous singing Harlettes, was a human rollercoaster with room for everybody to get on board.
She joked, danced, sashayed across the stage, laughed and split the audience’s sides . . . and when the mood took her, she made them cry. And she did something many female artists fail to accomplish these days: she rarely left the stage and she sang live.
No tapes or recordings featured in this show. When you are a true original and every show is unique, that’s impossible anyway.
What a show it was. Midler took the mickey out of herself with a hilarious segment about her failed sitcom featuring Judge Judy.
She took celebrity weddings apart with just as much fun with the judicious use of multi-screen visuals – even Britney Spears became entertaining in The Britney Bunch segment.
Old favourites such as Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, Do You Wanna Dance and songs from her movies set the joint jumping.
Her geriatric Sophie act featuring the Harlettes in beach-striped style was hilarious, with gags older than Pixie Skase.
It was vaudeville meets burlesque and she obviously loved every minute of it . . . and the crowd went nuts.
Midler’s well-timed swipes at everyone from George W. Bush suppository John Howard to Shane Warne texting and a dancing Pauline Hanson went down a treat – nobody escaped.
Her Broadway send-up as Delores DeLago in mermaid attire, accompanied by Harlettes on a similar scale, was unbelieveable stagecraft, all four doing routines in mermaid gear.
From Chicago to West Side Story and Hello Dolly to Oklahoma and Gypsy, no show missed out, and Midler showed she’s not just approaching 60, she’s overtaking it at high speed in a wheelchair. But amid all the hilarity and priceless vulgarity there was also respect, poignancy, sincerity and honesty.
Midler opened her heart to the crowd in songs such as From A Distance and Wind Beneath My Wings, which she dedicated to the audience, and they responded with an attempt to sing The Rose, which she gracefully took over. Adelaide embraced her in a way few performers inspire, and the constant standing ovations, joyous laughter and outpouring of emotions kept coming.
Her Tenterfield Saddler tribute to Australia and Peter Allen was tear-jerking stuff . . . nobody wanted her to leave and it is only hoped she will return soon. The world has never needed a laugh more than it does now.
It is also a shame there are only five stars to give the Divine Miss M – she gave all of us in the audience a lot more.