BetteBack: Midler To The Max

The Daily Herald
Crowd gets maximum Midler
Saturday, July 16, 1983

When Bette Midler performs, the folks at Webster s must scurry to t h e ir dictionaries to redefine words l i ke outrageous and ‘ entertainment But outrageous ent e r t a inment is just wh at Midler provided to an enthusiastic crowd of 7 500 Thursday night at Poplar Creek in H o f f m an Estates.
Considering the hot muggy pavilion Midler’s p r a n c i n g, energetic performance qualifies as a musical and comedic decathlon worthy of a gold medal. Nobody enjoys the show more than the Divine Miss M herself.
A Midler concert has the u n c a n ny kna ck of peaking w i th Midler’s initial appearance and ma i n t a i n i ng its ene rgy t h r o u g h o ut the entire two h o ur show.
What helps sustain t h at frenetic pace is a blend of her mus ic w i th a n a t u r al  comedic
t a l ent as she reels off i r r eve r ent one-liners, lewd stories, and a r u n n i ng social commentary on anything that comes to mind.

HER OUTFITS are best described by not trying to describe them at all. When shes
wa i ling songs like ‘Stay Wi th Me” or the Rolling Stones’ “Beast of Burden,” Midler takes on the persona of the Janis Joplm-like character she portrayed in The Rose. Her performance earned her an Academy Award nomina t ion for Best Actress in her film debut.
Her famous rendition of “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” was followed by “Moonlight in My Eyes.” To mingle with the folks enjoying the show under the stars on the lawn Midler dashed through the pavilion to the hill for all to see. Her t r ip included singing a few bars
from this reporters lap, an event I m sure she enjoyed almost as much as I d id.
A f t er a mu ch deserved 20-mmute intermission Midler and her backup singers, the Staggering Harlettes, did motorized wheelchairs with hand controls. Their precision whirling around the stage added to the chaos.

DISCO ANTHEMS “We Are Family” and “I Will Survive” were sandwiched around a fin-flopping version of “In the Mood,” a Midler standard.

Though she bills her show as “sleaze with ease” or “trash with flash,” her tender song, “The Rose,” was everyone’s choice to cap the evening. She urged the crowd to sing with her, but the hushed audience wanted to hear her one voice more than theirs.

Midler’s ribald comedy would put Joan Rivers to shame. Any subject is fair game for her verbal darts. Aerobics, cocaine users, Interior Secretary James Watt, Queen Elizabeth II and endless jokes about her bodacious breasts. About Jane Fonda‘s health books and accessories, she asked, “Did you ever think we’d see Jane Fonda embrace capitalism with such fervor?”

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