Bette Midler: Divine Intervention
by Louise Adams
Tuesday Jun 23, 2015
There was a surprisingly low gay to gray ratio at the “Bette Midler: Divine Intervention” concert, her first major tour in a decade, but the original diva gave a master class in sass and brass, showing her undiminished prowess in interpretation, patter and soul.
Opening with a projection of the Sistine Chapel’s “The Creation of Adam” (which became “The Creation by Bette,” natch), the Divine Miss M took the United Center stage in a short salmon shift, showing off her still-gorgeous-at-age-69 gams (“don’t I look fabulous? A triumph of science and fiction” and “I’m like vodka — ageless, odorless and tasteless”), backed by a large, on-point band and her trio of Trampettes (“they used be to fact checkers at Fox News — nobody’s noticed they’re gone.”)
Into her awesome patter, she seamlessly wove in Blackhawks and Stanley Cup references, such as “thanks for the parade.”
She acknowledged her own mature years — “what I can remember I’ll repeat” — as well as that of her aging audience: “it’s 50 shades of gray in here. I don’t know whether I should sing or talk about the benefits of reverse mortgages.”
She and the films projected on a scrim behind her also took apt pot shots at the ridiculous proliferation of social media and apps, including Twitter and Fitbit, saying, “I miss being unreachable.” She also credited Sally Field for inventing Facebook with her infamous “You LIKE me” Oscar speech.
In addition, Midler claimed she made the original leaked sex tapes, the best way to find fame today, including (and showing Photoshopped images of) ones with Richard Nixon (“I know why he was called Tricky Dick”), Vladimir Putin and Dick Cheney (“I was responsible for heart attacks three and six”), while bemoaning the “epidemic of dick pix,” which look like “mug shots of little old bald men.”
Her song choices were varied, and delivered with masterful modulation, including her homage to girl groups with “I Know Something About Love” and even a fabulous interpretation of TLC’s “Don’t Go Chasing Waterfalls.” She dressed like her “Hocus Pocus” witch character to sing “I Put A Spell on You” and paid homage to James Brown with a cape bit. During a costume change, she also shared a filmed obituary for her mermaid character Delores De Lago, 1980-2014.
Midler reappeared in a red rhinestone gown reminiscent of Dorothy’s red slippers to cover the Stones’ “Beast of Burden,” and instructed the audience not to sing along, “because there’s only room for one diva in this hockey rink,” but “if you do, don’t forget those tricky half steps.” She also said “I’ll let you know when you can use and wave your Apple products” even though “they’re the first step on the road to douchebaggery.”
She was sincere and her voice gorgeous when she sang her megahits “The Rose,” “From A Distance,” “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” as well as “Wind Beneath My Wings,” saying “this song belongs to all of you. Thank you. You have given me such a wonderful life.”
After a few encore songs, she finally left her deeply satisfied, standing ovation audience with the projected wish that we all “Be Kind.”
I hope she knows that she’s my hero, and that we shall not look upon her like again.
Bette Midler performed June 18 at the United Center, 1901 W. Madison St., Chicago, IL. For information on upcoming dates, visit http://bettemidler.com
Louise Adams is a writer, actor, educator, yogini and nom de guerre. @MzzzAnthrope