by The Divinely Wonderous Wanda
Photo: BaltoBoy Steve Weiner
AHHH Richmond, what can I say...a lot! The first
thing that comes to mind is that this was the 4th time of seeing
our Divine Miss. M and the first time I have seen her in my own
state! And she was Divine! I have an all new respect for Bette.
She obviously was not well...she coughed a few times, and looked
tired. She had already said in an interview that she was still recovering
from a back injury that had occurred before Baltimore. Her foot
was taped up from another injury! I think that most performers would
have canceled or postponed a concert for just one of those reasons.
However, Bette was as bright, as bawdy and as bodacious as ever!
Before I go on (and on) about Bette. I must say that the band was
superb. They were on the money, making it look so easy (and it isn't)
and fun. Marvelous! The Harlettes were, well STAGGERING. On the
money. I love to see their adding the campiness that they do--like
the one chewing gum--too funny! And a wonderful save during Delores--good
job. Read on about that one.
After flying in on Seabiscuit and finishing her first number, someone
came in not so fashionably late she looked at them and said, "Why
the hell are you late? I'm trying to put on a show here!!!"
I almost fell out of my seat. Even though when we first heard that
Skylark was on the lineup, we were wishing that she had chosen something
else. We gained a new appreciation of it in DC, but it was absolutely
gorgeous in Richmond.
I can never get enough of Soph. There was a couple sitting next
to me, and it was obvious that the wife had to drag him there. It
is always such a bore to have someone at a MIDLER concert just sitting
there. He did enjoy Soph. I think he got a little bewildered at
me standing up every other song screaming though. Hey, I had to
show him how a true Bettehead acts, didn't I?
Delores was in rare form. But she got her balls twisted. She was
fighting them as she said "Ah, Shit!" She was able to
untwist them and do a little routine before the naughty things twisted
up again. "Fuck 'em" she said as she threw them aside.
What a save they did when her hat rolled off of her head during
"All That Shad!" As it rolled off, a Harlette picked it
up and put it right back on her head. And when she came down on
that fish hook for "Phantom Of The Opera," we were looking
for the nearest exit with a bathroom.
She commented on having to have sandbags in the bathroom of her
hotel. Richmond took a terrible beating from the hurricanes. One
of the local City councilman was detained and she said "I was
hoping Sa'ad El-Amin could come tonight, but he told me he was locked
into other plans. The good news is that he and Martha Stewart are
getting along faaaabulously." She also told Virginia that we
had a beautiful state, "Stop fucking it up with all those parking
But the most touching moment came when she sang what she called
her favorite song to sing, "Wind Beneath My Wings." It
was the fourth time that I had heard her sing it in concert, but
it was the most beautiful. I'm not sure exactly what happened. I
know that the crowd was a really good one, real responsive. She
was almost finished with the song and she stopped! She went toward
the stage right door and turned to look at the audience. I looked
up at the big screen to see her eyes red and tears streaming down
her face. She disappeared behind the door, and then came back out
to finish the song. Well, she was touched, and I was done for!
When she finished she bantered some and said that it was her first
time there--but not her last. "Ya'll have been great. I had
a great time," and she left. The audience started yelling "BETTE
BETTE, BETTE" and stomping their feet. She came back out and
said she didn't have anything else prepared. But the audience was
relentless. Finally she said "Well, we were working on another
song from the songbook, but I ain't making any promises on how good
it will be..." And they went into "In the Cool, Cool,
Cool of the Evening."
The evening was raucous, bawdy, beautiful, and even moving. She
had injuries (2 of them) and not feeling good, but she did not let
that stop her. My hat's off for her the fabulous band, and the staggering
Harlettes. To put it as simply as possible--the evening was truly
The Divine Miss M
Midler flaunts her feisty personality with her fabulous music
BY MELISSA RUGGIERI
Richmond TIMES-DISPATCH STAFF WRITER
Friday, October 22, 2004
Photo: BaltoBoy Steve Weiner
There are singers, and then there is Bette Midler. She’s
that evaporating breed of entertainer, the rare performer capable
not only of blowing the roof off a venue with a hefty set of pipes,
but one who cracks smart jokes at whiplash speed, hoofs alongside
her dancers and makes a crowd feel as if she still cares - even
after 30-plus years in the biz.
Last night’s near-capacity Coliseum audience continually
lavished its own love on Midler, even providing a surprisingly high
volume of agreeable whoops and hollers at her many hilarious President
Midler also went out of her way - as she’s done all tour
- to localize her comments. That meant that aside from shoutouts
to Windsor Farms and Oregon Hill ("Show me your mullets!")
came a well-placed reference to the recent flooding in Shockoe Bottom.
“We’re staying downtown and my hotel room is still
damp,” Midler quipped. “It’s the first time I’ve
seen sandbags in my bathroom!”
And then, “I was hoping Sa’ad El-Amin could come tonight,”
Midler said of the incarcerated former city councilman, “but
he told me he was locked into other plans. The good news is that
he and Martha Stewart are getting along faaaabulously.”
Just because Midler is sharper and funnier than most professional
stand-up comedians didn’t mean she shirked her primary responsibility
onstage - singing. A zippy five-piece horn section kick-started
the show with “Kiss My Brass” - also the name of her
tour, now on its second mega-successful leg - and “Big Noise
Watching Midler perform was as exhilarating as it was exhausting.
The woman never stopped for air as she frantically paced from one
side of the stage to the other, like Joe Torre looking for the remains
of the Yankees season.
Her mop of blond, Shirley Temple curls sprung on her shoulders
as she and her three fantastic backup singers, those saucy Harlettes,
bopped through “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” across a stage
decorated to replicate early Coney Island.
Most impressive about Midler was her ability to segue from ribald
jokes about Viagra and the White House to soulful ballads such as
Hoagy Carmichael’s “Skylark” or Rosemary Clooney’s
By scrunching her eyes shut and emitting deep breaths between well-phrased
lyrics, Midler suggested she was very much in the moment, not mentally
planning her upcoming week off, as many stars on tour do.
Even later ballads “From a Distance” and “Wind
Beneath My Wings,” such soggy Hallmark pap on record, were
injected with new beauty under Midler’s live command.
As any longtime Midler fan knows, the highlights of her act come
with two beloved characters - Sophie Tucker, that muumuu-wearing,
dirty-joke-spewing yenta, and Delores DeLago “The Toast of
Chicago,” otherwise known as the wacky mermaid in a motorized
Both made ample appearances last night - a bit too long in the
case of DeLago and her punny Broadway medley and fish jokes - but
who but the iciest of heart couldn’t hoot at the sight of
Midler flopping and dancing around in a mermaid tail?
It’s more than merely humorous that Midler began the 2-hour
show by proclaiming “I’m fabulous! Don’t I look
it?” because she does. Look fabulous, that is. She’ll
turn 59 in December, and despite injuring her back during a show
a couple of weeks ago and wearing tape around the arch of her left
foot last night, Midler is a lean bundle of feistiness and energy.
Thank the entertainment gods that Midler says she’s not retiring
anytime soon. The world could use some more of her candid sass.
An Equal Opportinity Review
by The Divine Miss Dana
Photo: BaltoBoy Steve Weiner
First of all, I have to say that I am the one that bashed the Baltimore
show, I don’t think, for whatever reason, Bette was not doing
her best work and the audience was not fully showing its appreciation
to our Miss M’s efforts. Being the equal opportunity reviewer
that I am, I have to say that I absolutely adored the Richmond show.
Richmond is one of the best performances that I have seen so far.
Bette was top notch throughout the show and as the audience gave multiple
standing ovations, she obliged us with an encore and a full on, ball
busting, energized performance.
Bette started out the evening with her Big Noise of Winnetka and her
ride down on Seabiscut. Although, this will be my fourth time seeing
the show, Bette brought tears to my eyes when she sang When A Man
Loves A Woman; her performance was amazing. I notice when she sings
When A Man Loves A Woman in particular, her legs start to shake and
she literally vibrates with power by the end of the song. I believe
that Bette sang the song as well as she did during her Rose days and
that is no easy task to accomplish since When A Man Loves A Woman
is such an emotional ballad. I also noticed that throughout the show,
not only were her Harlettes reacting to what she is saying and doing,
her band members are doing the same. During the Judge Judy/I’m
Sorry segment, when Bette screams, “Stop!” the band literally
jumps back to her outburst. I thought that was a nice touch and I
could tell that Bette, the Harlettes, and her band members are not
only doing a concert but a stage show where the everyone is part of
the larger picture of entertainment.
Throughout the show, I also saw touches of Bette from her early bawdy,
years. In the middle of the first segment, people came in late and
tried quietly to sit down. Bette, though, true to form, stopped the
song, and told the late audience members, “Why the hell are
you late? I’m TRYING to put on a show here!!!” The rest
of the audience then went to uproarious laughter and cheer. I’m
glad I wasn’t one of those who were late!! I wouldn’t
want the wrath of Miss M upon me!! Also, towards the end of the show,
the audience were calling out to Bette and asking questions. Bette
at one point, before her encore said, “What, Dear?” to
a question and the audience member yelled out to sing, “Love
T.K.O” Bette laughed and said, “I can’t remember
the words to THAT song!? I’m lucky if I can remember the words
to the song I’m going to sing now!” The audience then
gave her another standing ovation, in which she gave a wonderful rendition
of “Come On to My House”.
Needless to say, the show was fabulous, Bette was in great shape and
her whole show and members were top notch. I know that everyone has
their good days and their bad days and Bette is no exception to the
rule. The audience was totally awesome and the fact that they gave
her four standing ovations proved the fact that she is one of the
best entertainers of our time. Although Baltimore is not what I expected,
Bette and the KMB crew gave a fantastic performance at Richmond and
gave the audience a great show.