A Bluebird In A Red State
By Rebecca T.
From the moment the music started and the curtains
parted to allow the Divine Miss M’s entrance atop her prancing,
flying horse, Bette Midler had the Houston audience right where
she wanted them – wrapped tightly around her finger. And
they stayed wound up until the last note was sung, captured for
two and a half hours in the radiance that only a performer of
Miss Midler’s unique talent can exude. As she herself has
acknowledged, her unique ability to connect with her audience
so that everyone watching her feels as if she is singing directly
to them, is a talent not often seen with any performers. And she,
along with her entire entourage, had everyone feeling that special
connection in her performance in Houston on Friday night. Even
the River Oaks crowd down front, not usually known for their boisterous
support of someone from UP NORTH, let alone a LIBERAL DEMOCRAT
NEW YORK Yankee, clapped and yelled and sang along with the irrepressible
Miss M and seemed to embrace her as one of their own. And this
was quite a feat for someone who told a couple of jokes deep in
the heart of Bush country about Texas’ ex-governor that
even she said took some balls to repeat. But (almost) everyone
loved them and even if they didn’t, they still seemed to
love and adore Miss Midler.
The show was superb and flawless, like all of her
shows, but I had the very distinct impression that at the beginning
of the show, she herself was a little unsure of what her reception
would be down here in the South. I had seen the show twice on
the first leg, in New York City and New Jersey, and here in Texas
it was as if she wasn’t sure exactly who her fans would
be, so she was a tiny bit apprehensive at first. But it did not
take long for her to realize that the fans in Houston are just
as enamored, if not more so, than her fans in the north or on
either coast. She seemed to be surprised at the adoration coming
her way, and several times during the show she would say “Houston,
this is wonderful, you are great “ and she appeared to enjoy
and accept the adulation more and more, as the evening went on.
It made the whole experience even better because the audience,
whether aware of it or not, interacted with Miss Midler in the
way that made her performance even more special than it may have
been somewhere other than in Texas. The connection seemed to flow
in both directions, between audience and performer and the results
were spectacular. Song after song, joke after joke, the show just
got better and better until before we knew it, it was time for
the last song.
After singing “Yellow Rose of Texas”,
which the Texans in the crowd loved, she asked the audience to
sing “The Rose”. After a few moments with everyone
realizing just how bad it sounded, and Miss M’s grimace,
she used the infamous phrase “Houston, we have a problem”,
then backed up the audience in the song for her last moments on
stage. When she waved and said “see you next year”,
I’ve no doubt many people in the audience were ready to
head for the box office for tickets to the next Houston appearance
of the Divine Miss M. Let’s hope that Houston will always
be a ‘must stop” on her future tours.
Deep in the Heart of Texas!
Photo: BaltoBoy Steve Weiner
I've always enjoyed Bette Midler's work and have found her to
be an amazing talent. I have many of her albums and have seen
all of her movies and they are all excellent to be sure, but NOTHING
compares to seeing a Midler show live and in living color. After
seeing "Diva Las Vegas" a few years ago on cable I really
wanted to catch one of her shows. I finally got that opportunity
Friday night in Houston at the Toyota Center.
To be totally honest with all of you, when tickets went on sale
here I was not sure if I was going to go. I have always had a
self-imposed rule that the most I would spend on any one event
or show is $100 a ticket. There's no special reason for this other
than that is all I can afford. So when I saw that tickets were
$150 a ticket for the great seats I argued with myself as to whether
or not I should spend that kind of cash. Finally, I said "SCREW
IT!! I'm going for it! You only live once!" LOL I'm THRILLED
I made that decision. I got everything I paid for and so much
So I made my way to Toyota Center and arrived there about half
an hour before showtime. From there I was escorted by a policeman
to my front row seats. Talk about feeling important! :) I was
actually concerned that I might be TOO close and would miss some
of the stuff going on at the back of the stage, but I could see
One thing I was impressed with in Act One is how Bette connects
to the audience and becomes one of us. The Houstonians, I think,
felt special and like we were important to her. It was almost
as if the tour didn't exist and it was just us and Bette. This
was OUR time and she really worked hard to make us feel that way.
I hope that makes sense. The jokes about Houston really helped
to build that rapport I'm talking about. The material was SPOT
ON and she had a priceless barb about how bad the lightrail system
in H-town is. "The rail system had a good day today... the
train only smashed into two cars!" That got some big laughs
because collisions really have been a colossal problem with the
lightrails here. The Bush jokes went over fine. I wasn't sure
how the crowd would react but they were hugely supportive.
Song-wise the high points for me in the first stanza were "When
a Man Loves a Woman", "I Think It's Gonna Rain Today"
and "Shiver Me Timbers" "When a Man...", as
everyone before me has said, is just incredible. I thought Miss
M. was very Joplinesque in how the pure emotion comes out in her
during that song. She makes it her own and you can hear the passion
in her voice. It is hard to describe. The latter two songs are
just beautiful and they seem to really come to life live.
Act two was just as good. I got a serious kick out of Delores
in the wheelchair. I'm disabled myself and I can tell you driving
those things is NOT easy. Miss M was doing that and singing and
dancing at the same time. She really can do anything! :) The Phantom
of the Opera bit was pee-your-pants funny. I also liked "All
That Shad." Brilliant dance choreography. My mother is from
upstate New York and I have been to many Broadway plays also and
loved them so that whole segment really hit home for us. What
"From a Distance", "Wind Beneath My Wings",
and "The Rose" were all beautiful. We absolutely SUCKED
at singing "The Rose" and I'm being kind. People, it
was flat PITIFUL! LOL Bette grimaced horribly and stated "Houston,
WE have a problem!" and pretty much did the song on her own.
She finished with encores of "Yellow Rose of Texas"
The show just flew by! There was not one dull moment or dead spot.
We were being hypnotized with beautiful music, being told very
funny jokes, watching clever videos, or being blown away with
spectacular dance numbers. It was constant movement and action
and it was all good. To be honest, I was upset when it was over.
I just did not want to go home.
As I mentioned earlier, I'm handicapped. After "WBMW"
Bette shook hands with people in the first row. My mother got
me out of my chair, walked me as close to the stage as we could
get and Bette saw us struggling. She smiled, climbed over some
speakers and other crew stuff so she could shake my hand and thank
me for coming. The lady was basically dangling off the stage so
I could reach her. I was very touched by the effort she made for
me and I'll always remember that. It was a small thing, but small
things matter. We all know she's Divine, but she's also an incredibly
nice lady. Mr D, I did thank her but please pass along how much
her act of kidness meant to me. It was appreciated.
At the end of the show Bette screamed, "See you next year!"
I really hope that is true. Whether it is another round of KMB
dates or Bette taking a stool out on stage and just singing her
songs I really don't care. I will be there. She's an amazing talent
and a better person. Don't miss her.
Kiss My Brass II
Houston May Have a Problem, But Bette Doesn't!
by Aly R.C.
Photo: BaltoBoy Steve Weiner
The Houston show was amazing, but then again, could
it be anything else? The crowd was very antsy at first because she
didn't start on time and they were clapping and cheering and screaming
"Bette"! That could also be the fact that the Toyota Center
lets people drink during the concert. ;). The venue was very intimate,even
from row 17, which was where I was, you could walk 20 feet and be
at the stage. Anywho, when the lights dimmed everyone cheered and
we waited for the Harlettes to come out. They came out and you could
feel everyone have a surge of excitement flow through them. Then,
after much anticipation, there she was, on her lovely horse in all
of her divinty and wonder. She came shimmying and slideing up and
down on the pole (looked like a lot of fun ;) The number
was amazing and thankfully no one was let in if they were late during
the opening number, although people did come in late throughout
the entire performance but she did not say anything to them. When
she fell down to the stage right before "Skylark" because
she was mentioning about how when she first sang it in the 70s ,
that was funny. All of the ballads were amazing and the jokes were
hilarious. I loved the viagra jokes and the ones about Dick Cheney
and George Bush, especially the one about Queen of The World.
She said she should take notes from Ashlee Simpson on doing her
own singing and that Christina and Britney should be dropping her
a note to thank her, of course. The Judge Judy video made me chuckle
and then when she came through the door singing "I'm sorry"
and then said "Screw it" was one fo the funniest things
I have ever heard. "Chapel of Love" was great with Angelina
Jolie and BillyBob Thorton, and Anna Nicole Smith and KFC chicken
among others. Nicollette looked like she a had a bit of trouble
driving the swan bike offstage but nothing big. "Britney Bunch"
was absolutely fall down hilarious, also. The Soph Jokes were HILARIOUS!
What a RIOT! The song the Harlettes were singing was fabulous, I
absolutely loved that song.
"Shiver Me Timbers" was so moving and so was "I think
it's Gonna Rain Today" but I can't
quite remember where that fell into the show.
The second Act began and people, of course, were
late coming back to their seats. Delores couldn't have been better.
What a unique and amazing act. Wow! She didn't have trouble with
the Poi Balls and when she let go of them none flew into the audience.
Delores was definitly a peak in the entire show.
After Delores came Mr. Rogers, after Mr. Rogers sang his little
bit and Bette came
out and talked and then tried to begin the duet nothing played and
to the screen and says, "I can't hear you Mr.. Rogers."
Right as the duet is
supposed to begin, the sounds comes back and you see Bette's face
light up and
have a sign of relief.
"From A Distance" absolutly broke my heart.
My brother is currently serving in Afghanistan and all the thoughts
of him flooded back to me. But enough about me, back to Bette...
I don't quite remember where "Wind Beneath My wings" fell
in but it was absolutely jaw dropping. She intoduced Bette Sussman
after everyone else and then walked to center downstage and sits
down and she says "Well I tried to be more graceful but honey
my ass is pooped." Bette Sussman starts playing the beginning
to "The Rose" and Bette says, "No, no, I got something
better" and she busts out singing "The Yellow Rose of
Texas", now seeing has how I don't even know all the words
to that song and I have lived in Texas my whole life I was impressed
and I think everyone else was too because everyone was on thier
After that bit, came "The Rose" and of course she says
she is too tired to sing it, and that we should sing it. So everypone
starts, at the wrong place, and she waves her hands with the beat
and starts singing to get us on track. We start again and you see
her face wince and get a very funny but disgusted expression and
she brings the mic to her mouth and says, "Houston, we have
a problem." and starts the music over and sings it herself.
Everyone in the audience who knew the song continued to sing. After
that the walked off and out the side door. After about 3 minutes
of cheering and clapping and screaming and hooting and hollering
she walks back out, clearly exaughsted, and says "Thank you"
about 5 times over and goes up to the front row and shakes peoples
hands. One person had to be held back and she pointed them out to
everyone. Of course, just about everyone in the front row is drinking
so she makes comments to them about that especially one lady she
turns to and says, "You have enough? Your just about out!"
The Harlettes come back out for one Encore of "Friends",
which was a real treat.
Overall, the concert was amazing and a true trip into Divine Heaven.
I hope she keeps her word..."I'm not retiring, and you can't
*~*Got to have Friends*~*