Bette Midler laid out her plans early for the Houston crowd.
“The people’s goddess is here tonight,” she quipped. “Ready to lift your spirits like a boob job for the soul.”
That bawdy humor carried through much of her Monday show at Toyota Center, part of the Divine Intervention tour. The songs were punctuated by a rapid succession of one-liners.
“I’m like vodka: ageless, odorless and tasteless,” she joked.
“I’ve got to stay on my toes. I know how Houston likes to put one over on L.A.”
Midler, 69, took the stage in a sparkling pink dress that cut above her knee and showed off still-gorgeous gams. “Do You Want to Dance,” her first hit in 1973, was a lovely highlight. She dedicated a healthy segment to last year’s “It’s the Girls!” album, running through girl-group classics “Tell Him,” “Da Do Ron Ron” and “Bei Mir Bist Du SchÃ¶n.” Her slowed-down take on TLC’s “Waterfalls” was an aching, transcendent moment.
Midler railed against social media, the waning popularity of cleavage (“Butts have kicked boobs to the curb!”) and the Kardashians.
“I could have been a billionaire at 30. I too have had some very steamy episodes,” she declared before introducing a series of doctored photos of her in bed with Vladimir Putin, Chris Christie, Dick Cheney and the New England Patriots’ Tom Brady.
“I was the first one to suggest he deflate his balls.”
Without skipping a beat, Midler launched into emotive versions of Leonard Cohen’s “Everybody Knows” and Randy Newman‘s “I Think it’s Going to Rain Today.” That’s the crux of Midler’s magic, switching instantly from uproarious humor to heartfelt sentiment.
She slipped into a red sequin gown for “Beast of Burden” and jokingly hobbled through “Miss Otis Regrets” before leading the crowd through ballads “The Rose” and “From a Distance.” Heads and hands swayed with every lyric.