Rochester, NY
The Blue Cross Arena
October 05, 2004

KMB II Review:
Rochester, NY
by Don Heinz
(National Institute of Technology for the Deaf at RIT )

The Bette Concert was AWESOME, Myself being hard of hearing, grew up listening to music like Bette, (the ease of following along what the words she sang and me being a romantic kind of guy) later I lost some more hearing, but have many fond memories of how she sounded. I always loved her songs (The Rose, Wing beneath my Wing, under the Boardwalk) She is a vibrant person and full of energy. The interpreter Cat Hardesty, She was Incredibly AWESOME! She match the mood of Bette from telling the dirty jokes to signing the song with inspirational and with charisma.

A hearing friend of mine went with me, He told me too bad she (Cat) was not near the front because Many hearing people would have love to watch her as well as Bette. Rochester NY is one of the bigger population areas that Deaf and Hard of hearing people live in. Mainly due the college National Institute of Technology for the Deaf at RIT is located here. This City is Deaf friendly for the most part. Compare to other cites. We have many interpreters in this community. But Cat is the all time favorite interpreter. She has put into so much energy to the song and is obvious she took the time to learn the music. She matches the tone and mood of Bette. Like she does in so many other concerts that I have seen, she always likes to have fun with the audience like Bette does. I sure feel like I am participating with the hearing group.

KMB II Review:
Rochester, NY
by BetteHead Robby

As a long time fan of your site, I just wanted to drop a line and say a few words about the Rochester concert Tuesday night, which I was very excited to be at with my two of my best girlfriends.

Monday was my 27th birthday, so Tuesday night was like an extra heaping of fabulous birthday cake! I had seen the show last December in Hershey, but nothing prepared
me for experiencing the Divine on my own turf.

As my friends agreed, Ms. Midler certainly does her homework. She made several cracks directed at our local suburbanites, the "315ers", "Brighton Ladies", and her front row
"personal Pittsford"! She also took a shot at the Fast Ferry project, The Breese, something our area had been looking forward to as it was a springboard for tourism between Rocha-cha and Toronto, but after months of problems, had been shut down. "The Breeze isn't a blowing," she commented to a very enthusiastic crowd.

As I mentioned, this is my second KMB concert, so I was able to really enjoy each song and each moment of the show (Hershey was mine and my friend's first time seeing her live and it was very much a blur...we were both hysterical the entire show...OH MY GOD

I'm a big "Stay With Me Baby" fan and remember hearing it wasn't featured on this tour and being a little disappointed. Well, that has gone out the window, cause I'm telling ya,
being able to see her perform "I Think It's Gonna Rain Today" and "Shiver
Me Timbers" was just as poweful for me, and I think they are two
highlights of the first act.

For the Rochester show, she closed with "The Rose", which the audience sang along with her. A perfect ending for a perfect evening! Keep up the great work on the site! Us fans are so lucky to have you!!!

Midler mixes camp, ballads
Jeff Spevak
Democrat and Chronicle columnist

(October 6, 2004) — Vaudeville isn't dead. It glided gently to the Blue Cross Arena stage Tuesday night astride a carousel horse, then pranced the stage relentlessly, like a poodle trained to walk on its hind legs in high-heeled shoes.

It wore mermaid costumes and spun around the stage in a wheelchair, duetted with Mr. Rogers via video, and mixed campy songs with ballads, anti-Bush remarks and bawdy comments. (Photo: BaltoBoy Steve)

Although Bette Midler's "Kiss My Brass!" show was set in turn-of-the-century Coney Island, she arrived well armed with local jibes. "I made it!" Midler exulted in front of 8,500 fans. "The Blue Cross Arena! Who said dreams don't come true! We wanted to do this at High Falls," she said of the struggling downtown district, "but we wanted people to come."

She sings fearlessly on the buoyant "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" and "When a Man Loves a Woman." Yet for all of her hooters and hollerin', Midler can be startlingly elegant, as on "I Think It's Going to Rain Today" and "Shiver Me Timbers." She paid tribute to Rosemary Clooney with a brassy jazz arrangement on "Hey There" and "Tenderly."

"I'm Sorry" was recast as an apology for her TV show Bette: "I didn't know TV could be so cruel."

Playing off her three sidekick Harlettes — which included Nicolette Hart, who was known as Michelle Lipman when she played Blackfriars and Downstairs Cabaret here — "Chapel of Love" saluted failed celebrity relationships, concluding with a familiar-sounding tune called "The Britney Bunch," which went something like, "Here's a story, of a girl named Britney. ..."

Midler mocked Social Security, Dick Cheney and terror alerts. Introducing the three-decades old "Skylark," she fondly recalled an era of avocado appliances, a time when she claimed even George W. Bush came to her shows. "His coke dealer got him some tickets."

The Divine Miss M
Jeff Spevak
Staff music critic
Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

(October 4, 2004) —

OK, Bette, which would you rather do: Make a new film, record a new album, or cast the deciding vote that pushes George W. Bush out of office?

Showing no regard for her personal career, the Divine Miss M answers without hesitation: "I would like to cast the deciding vote."

Bette Midler is many things. Singer, actor, comedian. Brassy, funny, fearless. Her audience will discover this just after 8 p.m. Tuesday, when she takes the stage at the Blue Cross Arena at the Community War Memorial. On a stage set that recalls a vintage Coney Island carnival, Midler is the wildest ride on the midway.

Did we mention activist? In a week in which some of rock's biggest names — Bruce Springsteen, R.E.M., the Dave Matthews Band, Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds and Bonnie Raitt — are playing anti-Bush "Rock For Change" concerts in key swing states, Midler has beaten them to the punch-card ballot. When her "Kiss My Brass!" tour came to Buffalo's HSBC Arena in March, her between-song patter (and Midler patters a lot) was almost completely consumed by comments ridiculing the Bush administration. Considering that the 58-year-old Midler's biggest hit was the saccharine ballad "Wind Beneath My Wings," it's no large leap to assume her audience is comprised of quite a few middle-aged, conservative-minded Republicans.

But Republicans are people, too, Midler says.

"I think my audience is humanist," says Midler, who emphasizes her words as though she were speaking in italics. "I think my audience likes human beings. Plenty of Republicans think we're going the wrong way. Plenty of Republicans realize this is a tough time, and it's time to step up to the plate."

Midler always comes out swinging. She's an icon in yet another group that Bush is going to war against, the gay community (you're probably wondering: Midler's been married since 1984, and has one daughter). She's also a founder of the New York Restoration Society, which raises funds for the city's public spaces. And she's played a series of assertive women in films that include The Rose, Down and Out in Beverly Hills and The First Wives Club.

These appear to be the same women as the one onstage telling jokes that could be easily categorized as vulgar.

"Are you kidding me?" Midler howls into the phone. "I thought they were too old!"

Midler is reminded of a joke she tells of a stroll along the beach: There is simply no way to present it in a family newspaper.

"Oh, yeah, that one's almost over the line," she admits. "I really feel I walk a very delicate line, and I feel I do it gracefully. My show is wholesomely bawdy."

She applies a voice that's equal parts soaring and sassy to songs that range from the Andrews Sisters' "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" to an elegant "Shiver Me Timbers" by the iconoclastic Tom Waits. "Oh, I worship Tom Waits," says Midler. "I think he's a genius."

But the main man in her professional life, the man behind her latest album, Bette Midler Sings the Rosemary Clooney Songbook, is a dreamer.

"Barry Manilow said he had a dream that we should do it," Midler says. "Rosemary had recently passed, and we both knew her. She had such a remarkable voice. When I was a very, very small child, I remember sitting listening to the radio, listening to her voice. These songs become very meaningful when you associate them with your childhood."

Manilow was Midler's pianist in the late 1960s and early '70s, when she was creating a style of cabaret comic and sassy jazz singer that made her a cult figure in New York City's underground nightclubs, what was known then as the "bathhouse scene."

"We hit it off right away, we both had the same musical sense of humor," Midler says.

Manilow holding his own against the irrepressible Midler: It's not a picture that comes easily to mind. She sometimes refers to him as "Mr. Manila."

"Well, I really do bring it out in him," she says. "I insist on it. He's really evolved into a very spiritual guy over the past couple of years. He has compassion for all types of people."

From iconoclastic Waits to dreamer Manilow, Midler assembles seemingly ill-fitting pieces into something that grabs your attention and holds on for dear life, like a small dog biting your ankle.

The "Kiss My Brass!" tour is not only about big attitude, it's about big sound.

"I do love my horns," she says. "They're alllll Democrats. They really add a crunch to the music. It's really an American show. It's big laughs, a little bit of tears.

"It's based on the old icons of Coney Island at the turn of the century, with the freak shows and all of that. Some rides are terrifying. Sometimes you gasp at what you see on the midway. But I also think it's hopeful, because I believe America as a nation is very hopeful."

And that's why "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy," an anthem for a war whose virtues few people debated, is appropriate to Midler.

"I do think it's very odd to be singing that song during this time," she says. "I also did something like that called 'For the Boys,' which was a war movie as well."

She wonders aloud for a moment — "It's just odd that we still go to war ... " — before resuming.

"Those songs are just timeless in a way. It's not war boosting, it's troop boosting, it's morale boosting. It's not war mongering. Both of those songs are intended to boost people's spirits.

"And we need it, because I've never been through a time like this."