Bette Midler brought her Divine Intervention tour to the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans on Saturday (May 16). She hadn’t performed in New Orleans, or embarked on a full-fledged tour, in a decade.
The 69-year-old Midler promised in an interview prior to the tour’s start that her new show would feature less talking than usual — bawdy jokes have long been a standard feature of her presentation — and more music. Backed by a crisp band made up mostly of musicians from Atlanta, as well as her backing vocalists, the Harlettes, Midler served up music from throughout her 40-plus-year career — but there was also plenty of talking. Most of her jokes can’t be repeated here.
She showcased a batch of songs from “It’s the Girls!” her 2014 album, her first in eight years. On it, she puts her own spin on girl group songs from throughout the decades. The album is named for “It’s the Girl,” a song by the Boswell Sisters, the 1930s New Orleans vocal trio. The arrangement for that song was the most difficult on the album, Midler said; she didn’t perform it live. She did, however, do her stripped-down take on contemporary R&B group TLC’s “Waterfalls.”
Her presentation was without some of the usual characters she’s made famous over the years; a video montage served as a retirement announcement for Dolores DeLago, her singing mermaid alter ego. But Midler had plenty of show to fill up the time that would have been devoted to Dolores. For two hours, she intermingled songs, steps and blue humor, ending in a fabulous red sequined dress.
I’ll post a full review of Midler’s Smoothie King Center show to NOLA.com by noon on Sunday (May 17). Meanwhile, enjoy photographer Michael DeMocker’s images from the Divine Intervention.
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