BootLeg Betty

BetteBack August 25, 1993: Midler proves she’s still divine

The Indiana Gazette
Wednesday, August 25, 1993

6-3-2012 11-02-34 PM

BURGETTSTOWN – She’s daring, delightful, dirty and divine — Bette Midler is one incredible performer.

Monday evening she treated 13,451 of her fans at the Coca-Cola Star Lake Amphitheatre to an evening of pure Midler humor and song.

Arriving in a celestial seat high above the stage to trumpeted fanfare from four of her dancers, the divine one pranced around the stage wearing a flowing gold lame jacket over a two-piece purple pantsuit, singing “Friends,” to her many friends who, judging by their reaction, were very happy to see her. It’s the first time in 10 years that Midler has returned to the stage for a concert tour.

“I see the American Express Gold Card ticket holders are here in the front row — the few, the proud, the in debt!” she teased at the folks who had paid around $50 a ticket for the opportunity to be close to the stage.

She took off her jacket to reveal a sleek, trim body, and self-assuredly exclaimed, “I look good!” No one disagreed.

“I’ll bet you expected to see someone … beefier … with buck teeth … red hair … and riding a broom!” she joked, alluding to her recent role as a witch in the Walt Disney movie “Hocus Pocus.” Many times throughout the evening her ribald sense of humor returned to a
discussion of her own body parts.

Most of her comments, while hilarious, are not repeatable.

She was well-versed in her comments about Pittsburgh, including the demise of the Syria Mosque and the retirement of Mayor Sophie Masloff.

“See ‘ya, Soph!” she said, and joked about “Big Hair” crossing signs posted in the mayor’s honor.

This down-home humor further endeared her to the crowd early in the evening.

“Hell I’d Go” was a wacky showtune in which Midler sang that if aliens came down and wanted to take her for a ride, they wouldn’t have to do much to convince her. An early showstopper was her rendition of “Delta Dawn,” which was highlighted by a sea of candle-glow provided by fan’s lighters. She changed the song tempo several times, ending with a fast-paced romp around the stage that had the audience clapping along.

As the first few notes of “The Rose” began, instantly the crowd went crazy, applauding what has become known as one of Midler’s trademark songs. She was delighted when the crowd began to sing along.

The second part of Act I was a burlesque show, which Midler referred to as “vaudeville with an NC-17 rating.” Her three back-up singers and four dancers were dressed in outrageously tiny costumes as she sang about “Pretty Legs.”

Throughout the song, as the band played in the background, she told amusing off-color stories with hilarious punchlines. Partway through the set, her four dancers stripped down to basically G-strings and pasties.

She tried to cover them up, complaining, “I work for Disney now — you can’t do that!” She grabbed a paint set and painted technicolor faces on two of the girls’ torsos and put giant bride and groom hats on them.

After a 15-minute intermission, it was time for “Delores” to take over.

Delores, another of Midler’s alteregos, is a mermaid who sells products on cable TV. She and her three mermaid assistants wheeled around the stage in wheelchairs, without wrecking into one another, hawking various products to the audience.

They hopped and jumped to “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” and the girls formed a living chair for Midler during “Bridge Over Troubled Water.”

Eight of them lined up in their wheelchairs for a version of “New York, New York” that saw them flipping their tails as the Rockettes would kick their legs. It was amazing to see the stamina Midler has, whether prancing around the stage for two and a half hours in high heels or wiggling across the stage in a sequined mermaid tail.

The final portion of her show was the most serious. All comedy aside, Midler concentrated on performing the ballads that the fans had come to hear her sing, including “From A Distance,” “Wind Beneath My Wings” and “Glory of Love.” She tested “As Dreams Go By,” a song so new she said she hasn’t even recorded it and was pleased with the affectionate reaction she received from her fans.

In their eyes Monday night, Midler could do no wrong — she was simply divine.

Share A little Divinity
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