AUBURN HILLS â€“ Bette Midler lived up to her Divine Miss M reputation on Wednesday night, June 10, as she sang, danced and quipped her way across the Palace stage in a two-hour revue that showcased her versatility, wit and a boundless energy that belied her 69 years.
â€œIâ€™m here to lift your spirits, like a boob job for your soul,â€ she told the audience, strutting back and forth in a sparkly coral mini dress and high heels that showed off her still-shapely legs. Midler lived up to her word, with a combination of lively songs, poignant ballads and Catskills-style shtick that still felt fresh and funny.
â€œDivine Interventionâ€ is her first major tour in 10 years, and it was an extravaganza of Broadway-style sets, special effects (an opening scene featuring an enormous spiral of purple smoke) and multiple costume changes that included the red wig and full witch regalia from her 1993 movie â€œHocus Pocus,â€ which she wore while performing â€œI Put a Spell on You.â€
Songs from her recent CD â€œItâ€™s the Girls!,â€ a collection of songs made popular by female groups and vocalists over the years, included the Excitersâ€™ â€œTell Him,â€ TLCâ€™s poignant â€œWaterfallsâ€ and the Yiddish standard â€œBei Mir Bist du SchÃ¶n.â€
Midler was supported by a group of musicians that included five horn players, as well as her back-up trio, the Staggering Harlettes, who shook their fringe-clad tushies during â€œTell Himâ€ and strutted around in yellow-feathered chicken costumes during a sketch that included Midlerâ€™s notoriously naughty Sophie Tucker jokes.
Other comic moments included Midlerâ€™s fast-paced social commentary about Facebook, Twitter (â€œRemember when it was considered a bad thing to be followed?â€) and the Kardashian empire. Midlerâ€™s classic mermaid character, Delores Delago, received a fitting farewell in a hilarious Oscar-style memorial montage.
Some of the more touching moments, where Midler became genuinely emotional, included Leonard Cohenâ€™s â€œEverybody Knowsâ€ and â€œStay with Me,â€ sung by Midler in the 1979 movie â€œThe Rose,â€ and her signature â€œWind Beneath my Wings,â€ which she prefaced by thanking the audience for its decades of support.
For the encore, Midler, the Harlettes, and all the musicians donned I Love Detroit T-shirts to perform a spirited rendition of â€œBoogie Woogie Bugle Boy,â€ a fitting finale for a multi-talented performer who is still classy and sassy after all these years. Must be divine intervention.