Everett, WA
Everett Events Center
December 07, 2004

Midler adds topical local humor to her versatile lineup for Everett show

Photo: BaltoBoy Steve Weiner

Bette Midler must be a local news junkie.

How else would she know just what to say about the weather, the politics or the sports teams in each city she visits?

At her colorful “Kiss My Brass” concert Tuesday night at the Everett Events Center, the Divine Miss M demostrated her knowledge of the Northwest with quips and one-liners about everything from Monday night football to the governor’s race.

Midler suggested that Democratic candidate Christine Gregoire couldn’t be at the concert because she was at the mall sitting on Santa’s lap: “All she wants for Christmas is 48 votes.”

Though she joked about the mullet haircuts of Darrington, Midler was warm and appreciative of the local fans who filled most of the seats at the Everett Events Center. She even suggested that the handsome new arena and its roster of big-name entertainers gave local residents an excuse to thumb their noses at the Emerald City to the south. Everett’s slogan could very well be “F**k Seattle,” she said.

Arriving on stage on a carousel horse, Midler showed off her lavish Coney Island-style set like a proud homeowner who had just spent a fortune on a kitchen makeover. In her sailor outfit and tight blond curls, Midler resembled Little Orphan Annie. Backing her was a 13-piece band featuring a five horn players, as well as her tireless song-and-dance trio, the Harlettes.

Midler’s wide-ranging talents as a singer, dancer and comedienne make other acts seem one-dimensional. And she’s able to blend the sassy and the sentimental without overdoing either.

Out of breath after a vigorous routine, the 59-year-old entertainer joked about her age: “I gotta take the gingko biloba to remember to take the Lipitor.”

There was a strong vein of nostalgia running through the two-hour show, from her beautiful version of Hoagy Carmichael’s “Skylark” to a rousing “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” that featured a video of Midler in triplicate, a la the Andrews Sisters. A hilarious, self-deprecating spoof of her unsuccessful TV show, “Bette,” was staged as a “Judge Judy” episode in which she was asked to apologize to America’s TV viewers.

Midler joked that Rush Limbaugh’s appetite for the painkiller OxyContin made him an oxymoron and that the competition to come up with a trade name for Viagra had been “quite stiff.”

Her sentimental tribute to Rosemary Clooney, to whom she had dedicated an album, included black-and-white film clips of Clooney and reverent versions of “Hey There” and “Tenderly.” A tribute to Mister Rogers that yearned for less-complicated times was staged as a tender duet of “I Like to Be Told” with the late kiddie star (in video form).

Her teary version of Randy Newman’s “I Think It’s Going to Rain Today” was followed by a boisterous rendition of “When a Man Loves a Woman.”

Playing an eccentric character in a bathrobe during a wonderful Miami Beach segment with the Harlettes, Midler joked about having a face with “more lines than Disney World.” Midler skewered Britney Spears and Kevin Federline in a comic segment titled “The Britney Bunch.”

The second half of the show began with “Fishtails Over Broadway,” a campy set of revamped show tunes featuring Midler in a mermaid suit, in the role of her alter ego, Delores De Lago.

The show concluded with a selection of high-powered hits, among them the remarkably moving “From a Distance” and “Wind Beneath My Wings,” and an audience singalong to “The Rose,” with Midler sprawled on the stage floor, feigning exhaustion.

“Thank you for giving me such a fabulous life,” she said before sending concertgoers home on a rainy, blustery night with the sentimental Dean Martin favorite “In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening.”

Bette Midler’s writers did their homework to personalize show
By Jennifer Warnick and Victor Balta
The Herald Writer

EVERETT - When punk band Green Day played the Everett Events Center, they thanked a crowd they called “Seattle.”

A common mistake, especially for performing artists that wake up each day in a different city.

But Bette Midler knew she was in Everett, and at her nearly sold-out extravaganza Tuesday night, she delivered a bout of one-liners aimed squarely at the locals.

“Ahh, Snohomish County,” she said. “I made it! Who says dreams don’t come true?”

“I’m disappointed Mayor (Ray) Stephanson couldn’t come tonight,” Midler said. “It was his turn to guard the Ten Commandments.”

But the mayor wasn’t guarding the two controversial granite slabs that grace the city’s police station. He was in the audience with his wife.

“It brought the house down when she said that,” he said Wednesday. “She even pronounced my name right. As I saw people at the concert, they would go, ‘Oh, you are here.’”

The mayor didn’t mind being the punch line for a diva. In fact, he knew it was coming. Staffers from Midler’s show had contacted city and arena officials to research what makes Snohomish County tick.

“Apparently, Bette really likes to localize the shows and get intimate with the audiences,” said city spokeswoman Kate Reardon, who fielded one of the writers’ calls.

Midler said she’s particularly fond of Everett’s motto, “Great thinking. With a view.”

Better that, she noted, than “(Bleep) Seattle,” which induced a roar from the crowd.

It’s safe to say folks at Everett City Hall honestly had never considered Midler’s suggestion as a slogan, said Lanie McMullin, the city executive who thought up Everett’s nonprofane motto.

“We’re proud of Seattle, actually,” McMullin responded. “They’re a wonderful suburb. We’re thinking of annexing them.”

But Midler went beyond Everett in her verbal jabs.

She thanked the people in the front rows, the most pricey seats in the house, as those who would do just about anything to sit so close.

“They had sex with people they don’t even like just to sit this close,” she said. “I like to think of them as my own little Mill Creek.”

And she didn’t forget those in north Snohomish County.

Midler beckoned to the people way in the back of the arena, calling out, “The people far away - Darrington. Show me your mullets!”

Concert Review
The Divine Miss M pulls out all the stops
By Diane Wright
Times Snohomish County Bureau

“Washington, how the hell are you?” yelled Bette Midler, looking like a kewpie doll with her navy suit and tousled blond hair.

“I’m fabulous! Don’t I look it? Even I don’t know how I do it.”

Backed by The Harlettes and a big band with sax, trombone and trumpet players, her three-hour concert Tuesday night at the Everett Events Center was choreographed as elaborately as a Broadway show. And as theatrical as burlesque, which this musical comedienne would have surely done in another era.

This is the biggest stage production in her career, she said, and it featured Midler at her trash-talking, wisecracking, self-celebrating best.

“I’m running for Queen of the World,” she said. “I feel the world needs me more than ever.”

And the lady is sharp. She does her homework.

“Oh, my God! Everett! Everett! Snohomish County! I made it!,” she exulted. “Who says dreams don’t come true?”

She cited the town motto, her penchant for the sailors at Naval Station Everett and even the mayor, who, she said, couldn’t make it to the show. “It was Mayor Stephanson’s turn to guard the Ten Commandments,” she said.

“Christine Gregoire couldn’t come either,” she added. “All she wants for Christmas is 48 votes.”

“Darrington!” she commanded. “Show me your mullets!”

Was this a stand-up comedy act with music or a musical act with stand-up? (Longtime comedy collaborator Bruce Vilanch wrote the show with Eric Kornfeld.)

No doubt about it. When Midler took the microphone, you realize the elaborate setups led somewhere. This confident performer is in perfect control of the music. Her voice had that trademark tremolo on “Wind Beneath My Wings,” “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy,” “From a Distance,” “Do You Want To Dance?” “When a Man Loves a Woman,” “Skylark,” and other hits, as well as her newest additions, ’50s-era tunes such as “Tenderly” and “Hey There.” These tributes to the late Rosemary Clooney were sung to black and white photo projections of the singer and finished with a deep bow to the screen.

If anything, some numbers could be tightened or even jettisoned. But which ones? Fans of Delores de Lago would have missed her mangling Broadway show tunes (including songs from “The Phantom of the Opera” and “Dreamgirls") in mermaid costume with the finny Harlettes (Kyra Du Costa, Nicolette Hart, Kamilah Martin.)

Others would have missed her hilarious revenge video revisiting her canceled sitcom and her fight with CBS, presided over by Judge Judy, which led to her torchy rendition of the song “I’m Sorry.”

Or how about the entrances? Midler flying in on a carousel horse. Midler dropping in on a huge fishhook and lure. Midler hopping down a staircase in scarlet fish suit to the tune of “Hello, Dolly.” Midler pedaling a swan boat, or popping out of the top of a beach cabana wearing an umbrella hat. The woman makes her life into production numbers. She’s a traveling circus, a musical comedienne with a gift for absorbing all the styles of American entertainers.

Midler has been doing this tour for more than a year. It was nearly flawless, apart from a glitch or two — a momentary back hum, over-amplification and a delay in lyrics to “The Rose.”

“The Rose” was her finale, which the near capacity audience sang to Midler from lyrics scrolled over a screen. She sat on the lip of the stage in the 10,000-seat center, microphone in lap, singing softly along with a beatific smile.

Midler thrills Everett
Divine diva’s production is more like a variety show
By Victor Balta
Herald columnist




They’ve all described Bette Midler for more than 30 years, and they all applied Tuesday night at the Everett Events Center.

The 59-year-old diva looked amazing - and she’d be the first to tell you so - donning a sailor outfit she said she wrestled away from a young man “down at the naval station.”

“I think he enjoyed it,” she quipped.

Midler nearly packed the Everett Events Center despite having already brought the first leg of her “Kiss My Brass” tour to Seattle’s KeyArena in February. This time around, Tuesday night’s show was the only stop in the Pacific Northwest.

Playing on a stage decorated like Coney Island at the turn of the 19th century, Midler took her fans on a roller-coaster ride for two hours.

Equipped with her trademark voice, dramatic flair and raunchy humor, she offered a full-fledged variety show rather than a concert, inspiring both huge laughs and sentimental tears.

Gasping for breath after just two songs, Midler said, “See, this is what it sounds like when you do your own singing.”

She kicked off the show with the tour’s upbeat namesake tune, “Kiss My Brass,” and the jazzy “Stuff Like That There.”

She tossed in some local jokes before delivering a beautiful rendition of Hoagy Carmichael’s “Skylark.”

Clips of Midler from the mid-1970s flashed on screens around the stage while she performed the same choreography as she did on “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.”

Midler took a few jabs at the likes of Anna Nicole Smith, Liza Minnelli and Britney Spears. But she laughed at herself, too, in an on-screen “Judge Judy” skit in which the judge ordered Midler to apologize for her short-lived CBS sitcom “Bette.”

Quickly, though, she was back to the sentimental, honoring her idol Rosemary Clooney with “Hey There” and “Tenderly” from her 2003 tribute album, “Bette Midler Sings the Rosemary Clooney Songbook.”

Her rousing, jazzed-up version of “When a Man Loves a Woman” brought the crowd to its feet, and Midler closed the first part of the show with a touching performance of “Shiver Me Timbers.”

To start the second act, Midler took on an alter ego as Dolores Del Lago, a mermaid longing to make it on Broadway, for a 20-minute sequence that included fishy spoofs on show tunes.

She again pulled heartstrings, performing a “duet” with the late Fred Rogers, also known as Mr. Rogers in the children’s TV neighborhood.

Saying Rogers taught kids about kindness, tolerance and good manners, “something I find missing today,” she sang “I Like To Be Told” along with the children’s show legend, who appeared on-screen.

Midler closed the show with a string of four of her biggest hits, “From a Distance,” “Do You Want to Dance?” “Wind Beneath My Wings” and “The Rose,” for which she led the audience in a sing-along.

She then announced her pleasure at being “in a bright blue state” - referring to Washington’s strong Democratic turnout in the presidential election - and left the audience dancing with one more Clooney tune, “In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening.”

And we all went off into it feeling a little warmer.