Adelaide, AU
Entertainment Center
April 26, 2005

The Advertiser
Oh, how divine
Miss M has the fans eating out of her hand

Photo: Ros O'Gorman

IT took 27 years for the Divine Miss M to return to the Adelaide stage but Bette Midler last night proved it was worth the wait.

More than 8000 fans paid between $99 and $169 a ticket to see Midler perform her Kiss My Brass show at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre.

That was a last-minute addition to Midler's tour itinerary. The singer, actress and comedian's lavish Broadway-style show was scheduled to bypass Adelaide but, in February, local promoter Brian Gleeson and the Entertainment Centre convinced the national promoters to move one of the planned Sydney concert dates here.

When Midler, 59, last toured Australia in 1978, she performed an incredible 34 concerts around the country, including one at Adelaide's Apollo Stadium.

Midler's first job was as a cannery worker in a Hawaiian pineapple factory. She burst on to the cabaret scene at New York's Continental Baths gay club, where her accompanist was another star in the making, Barry Manilow.

Within a year, she was starring in Fiddler on the Roof on Broadway. Her breakthrough album, The Divine Miss M, was produced by Manilow and the two joined forces again for a duet on her current album Bette Midler Sings the Rosemary Clooney Songbook, from which she performed songs last night.

Kiss My Brass was a virtual time capsule of Midler's career, from her such early hits as Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy through to her signature ballads Wind Beneath My Wings, From a Distance and The Rose. In between, there were her infamously vulgar ``Sophie and Ernie'' jokes, clips from her film and TV performances, a Judge Judy video explaining the disappearance of her own sitcom Bette, and hilarious digs at everyone from George Dubya to pop starlets and even her Australian audience.

Sunday Mail, Australia (SA)
SUN 01 MAY 2005, Page I13
Top-brass Miss M simply Divine

Bette Midler
Kiss My Brass Tour,
Adelaide Entertainment Centre, April 26


In short: Biggest, boldest, brassiest show seen in Adelaide for years - bravo!

THE Big Noise From Winnetka is back!

Bette Midler is an icon of entertainment, the self-confessed cheapest act in town at the hottest price.

Anyone who thought age may have wearied her, smoothed her edges or diluted her acid tongue or killer voice would have been magnificently surprised on Tuesday night.
There was no milder Midler in sight as she entered the Coney Island amusement-park set on a flying carousel horse.

Opening with the title track Kiss My Brass and seguing into the Big Noise From Winnetka, Midler, complete with red-hot band and three fabulous singing Harlettes, was a human rollercoaster with room for everybody to get on board.

She joked, danced, sashayed across the stage, laughed and split the audience's sides . . . and when the mood took her, she made them cry. And she did something many female artists fail to accomplish these days: she rarely left the stage and she sang live.

No tapes or recordings featured in this show. When you are a true original and every show is unique, that's impossible anyway.

What a show it was. Midler took the mickey out of herself with a hilarious segment about her failed sitcom featuring Judge Judy.

She took celebrity weddings apart with just as much fun with the judicious use of multi-screen visuals - even Britney Spears became entertaining in The Britney Bunch segment.
Old favourites such as Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, Do You Wanna Dance and songs from her movies set the joint jumping.

Her geriatric Sophie act featuring the Harlettes in beach-striped style was hilarious, with gags older than Pixie Skase.

It was vaudeville meets burlesque and she obviously loved every minute of it . . . and the crowd went nuts.

Midler's well-timed swipes at everyone from George W. Bush suppository John Howard to Shane Warne texting and a dancing Pauline Hanson went down a treat - nobody escaped.

Her Broadway send-up as Delores DeLago in mermaid attire, accompanied by Harlettes on a similar scale, was unbelieveable stagecraft, all four doing routines in mermaid gear.

From Chicago to West Side Story and Hello Dolly to Oklahoma and Gypsy, no show missed out, and Midler showed she's not just approaching 60, she's overtaking it at high speed in a wheelchair. But amid all the hilarity and priceless vulgarity there was also respect, poignancy, sincerity and honesty.

Midler opened her heart to the crowd in songs such as From A Distance and Wind Beneath My Wings, which she dedicated to the audience, and they responded with an attempt to sing The Rose, which she gracefully took over. Adelaide embraced her in a way few performers inspire, and the constant standing ovations, joyous laughter and outpouring of emotions kept coming.

Her Tenterfield Saddler tribute to Australia and Peter Allen was tear-jerking stuff . . . nobody wanted her to leave and it is only hoped she will return soon. The world has never needed a laugh more than it does now.

It is also a shame there are only five stars to give the Divine Miss M - she gave all of us in the audience a lot more.