Review: Bette Midler delivers a divine night at The Palace
By Ronelle Grier, Special to the Oakland Press
POSTED: 06/11/15, 4:09 PM EDT
AUBURN HILLS ”“ 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.
“I’m here to lift your spirits, like a boob job for your soul,” 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.
“Divine Intervention” 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 “Hocus Pocus,” which she wore while performing “I Put a Spell on You.”
Songs from her recent CD “It’s the Girls!,” a collection of songs made popular by female groups and vocalists over the years, included the Exciters’ “Tell Him,” TLC’s poignant “Waterfalls” and the Yiddish standard “Bei Mir Bist du SchÃ¶n.”
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 “Tell Him” and strutted around in yellow-feathered chicken costumes during a sketch that included Midler’s notoriously naughty Sophie Tucker jokes.
Other comic moments included Midler’s fast-paced social commentary about Facebook, Twitter (“Remember when it was considered a bad thing to be followed?”) and the Kardashian empire. Midler’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 Cohen’s “Everybody Knows” and “Stay with Me,” sung by Midler in the 1979 movie “The Rose,” and her signature “Wind Beneath my Wings,” 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 “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy,” a fitting finale for a multi-talented performer who is still classy and sassy after all these years. Must be divine intervention.