After a 10-year break from the road, Bette Midler decided the showgirl must go on and brought her Divine Intervention Tour to Vancouver on Tuesday night. The diva played to a packed house of fans young and old (okay, mostly old), performing songs from her latest disc Itâ€™s The Girls! as well as the big hits from her impressive back catalogue.
Letâ€™s get this out of the way: Midler is just as divine as ever, and there is truly no one else like her. To the surprise of no one she sounded great, she looked fantastic and sheâ€™s still as bawdy as ever. Her show is an amazing spectacle full of glitz, glamour, cool set pieces and a 12-piece band, but itâ€™s virtually impossible to take your eyes off of Midler for even a second. She had the Vancouver crowd in the palm of her hand after just a few notes, and had them in stitches after introducing herself as the real â€œpearl of the Orientâ€.
After performing â€œDivine Intervention,â€ Midler surveyed the crowd and asked how many had driven themselves to the concert. A few hands went up, much to the singerâ€™s relief. â€œSo good to know so many of my fans can still drive at night,â€ she said. Midler singled out one section of the arena, affectionately dubbed them â€œ50 Shades of Grayâ€ and threatened to offer them advice on reverse mortgages.
Bette was sexy and she knew it, and told us as much during â€œI Look Goodâ€ and â€œIâ€™ve Still Got My Healthâ€. â€œI know I look good because my hair and makeup people told me so. And I donâ€™t pay them to lie!â€ she said to big laughs.
â€œIâ€™m like vodka â€“ ageless, odorless and tasteless,â€ Midler continued. â€œI can still do all the things the younger singers can do. I see them in their videos. Straddling wrecking balls and writhing on couches. I was writhing on a couch the other day â€“ looking for the remote!â€
â€œEverything you see on this stage is real. Iâ€™ve had nothing replaced except my girls,â€ she said, gesturing to her backup singers. â€œArenâ€™t they wonderful? They used to be fact-checkers at FOX News. Then I snatched them up, and nobody knew they were gone!â€
The trio, also knows as The Harlettes, sounded great and played along with Midler, at one point pushing her around the stage on a giant couch while the diva took hits from an oxygen tank. The bit was obviously a gag, as Midler proved she can easily compete with the best of the wrecking ball-riders with her stunning voice.
As expected, the setlist was heavy on cover songs as Midlerâ€™s latest album pays tribute to the great girl groups of years past. She sang a rousing rendition of the Excitersâ€™ â€œTell Himâ€ and a haunting version of TLCâ€™s â€œWaterfalls,â€ performed here as a torch ballad accompanied by just a pianist.
In addition to the covers, Midler performed some of her most beloved tracks like â€œDo You Want To Dance?â€ from her landmark album The Divine Miss M. â€œBeast of Burdenâ€ and her Grammy-winning ballad â€œFrom A Distanceâ€ also made the cut. The diva also paid tribute to her mermaid alter ego Delores Delago with an Oscars-style â€œin memoriumâ€ video montage. Yes folks, Delores has gone belly-up.
The singer had a funny bit about the worldâ€™s incessant need for Twitter followers, Facebook â€œlikesâ€ and the current craze of â€œtits being blitzed by asses.â€ Midler, who sang a medley of Kim Kardashianâ€™s tweets on Jimmy Kimmel Live! earlier this year, moaned about the reality star and said â€œI could kick myself for not having the brains to monetize my sex life. I couldâ€™ve been a billionaire at 30!â€
Midler then schooled Kim & Co. by showing off a series of racy selfies from her own private collection. Doctored photos of Midler canoodling with hunky celebrities were projected onto the arenaâ€™s giant screens, and each photo came with a punchline.
Vladimir Putin? â€œVlad the Impaler, ha! More like Vlad the Imputent!â€ Chris Christie? â€œI canâ€™t afford to lose a follower that size!â€ A fake â€™80s selfie with Bruce Jenner (now Caitlyn)? â€œWe watched Beaches and painted each otherâ€™s toenails!â€ Speaking of Beaches, music from Midlerâ€™s film was represented twice: first with a beautiful cover of Randy Newmanâ€™s â€œI Think Itâ€™s Going To Rain Todayâ€ and later with encore â€œWind Beneath My Wings.â€
Before starting â€œThe Rose,â€ she kindly asked the audience to not sing along as â€œthere is only room for one diva in the hockey arena. And thatâ€™s moi!â€ After little response from the crowd, Midler quipped â€œIâ€™m in the wrong town. I shoulda said it in Chinese!â€ That got a laugh, but her line about not getting a free eggroll despite playing in Vancouver six times got her rolls, alright. Eyerolls!
The singer finished the night with the one-two punch of â€œStay With Meâ€ and â€œBoogie Woogie Bugle Boyâ€ that had the crowd on itâ€™s feet before hitting the dessert table and calling it a night. And I can say that with authority, because I was there too.
Last Christmas, my amazing husband surprised me with tickets for Midlerâ€™s concert and the package came with a meet and greet with the star after the show. Sorry ladies, heâ€™s taken! To thank him, I insisted we wear matching Rochelle, Rochelle: The Musical softball jerseys to the concert in honour of Betteâ€™s legendary appearance on Seinfeld. Naturally, he was thrilled (or is too nice to say otherwise).
Once Midler finished and the curtain closed, the meet and greet group, which included a woman who said â€œI screamed my tits off from the second row!â€, was escorted to a backstage holding room with brownies and lemon squares before eventually being joined by the icon herself. Midler was ravishing in a royal blue pantsuit which made me especially glad as our softball jerseys were royal blue, too.
My hubby and I were the last to meet her and I managed to squeeze in a hug with the star before we posed for two pictures with her. Bette saw the shirts and said â€œRochelle, Rochelle! Very funny!â€ I died.
She then asked how we enjoyed the show and I pointed to my guy and said â€œhe cried through the whole thing. And he didnâ€™t even cry when our dog died.â€ I was kidding, of course â€“ the dogâ€™s still alive. I dunnoâ€¦being in the presence of greatness can make you say stupid things, I guess.
She laughed, grabbed my husbandâ€™s hand and said â€œI cry every night, too.â€ She thanked us for coming and we walked away, but while I grazed along the dessert table on the way out, Bette came behind me and said â€œletâ€™s take some of these!â€ Iâ€™m pretty sure she was talking to someone in her very nice entourage, which is fine as Iâ€™d already eaten several brownies before she arrived.
We then saw the star being whisked down a hallway to a room that had a sign reading â€œMISS Mâ€ above the door. I died again. Suffice it to say, Midler was as gracious as she is spectacular and the experience was certainly worth a monthâ€™s rent or two (plus $44.80 for the jerseys).