BootLeg Betty

BetteBack: Bette Shimmy’s And Shakes The Phoenix Symphony Hall ~ October 4, 1973

Phoenix Arizona Republic
Miss M shakes the house
By Hardy Price
October 4, 1973

You’ve all heard about an act bringing down the house.

Well, for a m o m e n t Wednesday night it seemed as if Symphony Hall balcony was coming down for the Divine Miss M — Bette Midler.

As she ran back to center stage for her encore, the full house of 2,561 rose in a tumultuous roar of approval, and that’s when the balcony began to shimmy and shake.

Or maybe it was only the seats.

At any rate, Miss Midler turned the crowd for the better part of two hours and the Hawaiian-reared young lady (she refuses to give her age) was cheered on by wave after wave of applause.

And that was before she opened her mouth to say hello.

With such top 40 hits as “Do You Want To Dance,” and “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy,” to her credit, Miss Midler, who bills herself as the last of the truly tacky women, worked her way through u p -t e m p o and down-tempo and good old-fashioned rock-and-roll songs to the delight of all.

Spicing her between-number comments with a few blue words and jokes, w i t h some additional material prepared for Phoenix. Miss Midler kept the show moving forward at a pell – mell pace.

The only dead spot was intermission.

It would be difficult to describe her as a rock and roller or a middle – of – the – road singer or put her in any
specific category.

She’s just one big bundle of energy who happens to sing up a storm regardless of the material.

Backed by her Harlettes, w h o s e first – half costumes made one think of a trio of Times Square hookers, and a
good five – piece combo the Divine Miss M first got the joint jumping with an unusual vocal version of the Glenn
Miller s t a n d a r d , “In the Mood.”

But as much as the audience went wild over the boogie numbers, the manner in which she handled ”Am I Blue” or John Prine‘s incredibly b e a u t i f u l “Hello i n There,” proved to one and all that she is a truly talented singer and not just another gimmick act.

And while Symphony Hall is only a year old, it would be a fair guess that the place hasn’t seen anything like the
Divine Miss M and won’t for some time to come.

Miss Midler seems to have the same qualities that made Judy Garland such a favorite for so many years. In fact, save for the wild costumes (she ended the show in a black lace – trimmed lavender slip), Miss Midler’s performance reminded one of Judy Garland. Not the singing style, but the emotion, the enthusiasm and the sheer personal, almost magnetic force of her stage presence.

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