â€œThe peopleâ€™s goddess is here tonight!â€ exulted Bette Midler as she moved across the stage in her distinctive part-wiggle, part-strut. â€œHere to uplift like a boob job for your soul!â€ Midler is one of those rare creatures who can act, write, sing, dance, tell jokes and generally hold any audience in the palm of her hand. A star.
Backed up by a tight band and a trio of sassy fringe-clad backup dancers, Midler delivered the full gamut. Highlights included an over-the-top rendition of Screaminâ€™ Jay Hawkinsâ€™ â€œI Put a Spell on Youâ€ in Winnie from Hocus Pocus drag and a surprising rendition of Leonard Cohenâ€™s pessimistic protest song â€œEverybody Knows.â€ One thing we didnâ€™t get was mermaid-in-a-wheelchair Delores DeLago, who was represented by a touching memorial tribute video.
Of course, there was â€œWind Beneath my Wingsâ€ and â€œThe Rose.â€ But the ballad standout was TLCâ€™s â€œWaterfalls,â€ rendered as a slowed-down heartfelt ballad about human fallibility, reminding us that, along with the wit and the show tunes, Midler can still unleash soulful power. Then, of course, it was back to the Sophie Tucker shtick in a showgirl outfit or whatever else strikes her fancy. Because they donâ€™t call her â€œThe Divineâ€ for nothing.â˜…â˜…â˜…â˜…âœ©