It took Bette Midler to add a raucous note to the otherwise sentimental tribute to 79-year-old lyricist Ira Gershwin, at Avery Fisher Hall. Bette came out swingin’ and said, “I just love to work for free.” adding that, “the band doesn’t work for free â€” isn’t that right you fellows and gals?” They shouted their confirmation.
one big party.
Another big-game hunter skated forth from the wings lo tumultuous applause. Her name was Bette Midler, and if anybodyÂ still needs proof lhat Ira Gershwin is just as relevantÂ and applicable to 1975 as he was to the music of theÂ better musical years, she sealed the legend in gold.
After selling off a few kegs of her own dynamiteÂ with the obscure comedy tune “My Cousin FromÂ Milwaukee,” she gleefully chided the audience (“ThisÂ is the classiest night I’ve ever been associated with. IÂ and the orchestra We’re all working free tonightÂ except the band â€” right, fellas and gals?”), and paidÂ her own rhythmic tribute to Ira Gershwin by singing,Â with great feeling and emotion, her own contemporary arrangement of a song that could well be theÂ theme of all artisls who have achieved individualityÂ and originality. The song was “They Can’t Take ThatÂ Away From Me,” and until you hear Bctte Midlersing Ira Gershwin, you don’t know what love is.