September 10, 1993
MANSFIELD – The Divine Miss M returned to the Boston-area last night for her first visit in over IO years, and quickly proceeded toÂ reacquaint herself vith 15,000 adoring fans by putting on one of th# best shows Great Woods has seen in some Time.
Bette Midler, fresk off a pretty good movie career, displayed little rust on her divinely trashy and bawdy onstage persona, right fromÂ the moment she burst into “Friends” while sitting high above Ae stage on a trapeze, surrounded by a papier mache sun.
And with her slinky trio – the Harlettes – providing some high-energy dancing, Midler roared through a smashing 2 Vi-hour set thatÂ often brought the crowd to its feet.
Decadence was definitely the name of the game, as Midler pranced around the stage in a blue top and blue tights, establishing herself onÂ the rappish “I Look Good.” She followed that with several local references (the Mayor’s race, Durgin Park, Ray Flynn at the Vatican), before belting out a rousing “Some People’s Lives.”
Her version of th e ’70s chestnut “Delta Dawn” was fired up, thank! to a high-energy gospelstyle finale, and she outdid herself on “TheÂ Rose,” the theme from her 1979 movie debut.
The first half finished out with a bad and bawdy tribute to th* days of burlesque, focusing on the musical Gypsy with a showstoppingÂ “Rose’s Turn,” an d a quartet of strippers who managed to get their breasts painted by Midler in a hilarious skit fia t had the crowd rollicking.
It was hard to believe th at Midler had any energy left after th* fast-paced first half, but the second half nearly doubled the intensity, as Midler and her Harlettes spent a good deal of time dressed as mermaids while cruising around the stage in motor .zed wheelchairs The quips came fast and furious, as did the songs, including such memorable tunes as “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” and “In The Navy,” while the ladies somehow managed to jitterbug wearing flippers.
After a snappy Dorothy Lamour-like number, with Midler decked out in a sarong while singing “Ukulele Lady,” the pace slowed down to allowÂ the Divine One to catch her breath and rev up for a blistering, emotion-packed finale.
While her crack 8-piece band kicked into high gear, Midler embraced the crowd with simply stunning renditions of “From a Distance,” “DoÂ You Wanna Dance,” and John Prine’s bittersweet, “Hello In There.”
But it would all seem like mere appetizers for a main course that had Midler reaching down to her toes for a wrenching rendition of “Stay With Me Baby” that would have made Janis Joplin proud. The audience was simply blown away.