Tuesday, June 9, 2015

BETTE MIDLER: DIVINE INTERVENTION


If you want to be thoroughly entertained, then I highly recommend catching Bette Midler live in concert. I have seen her many times over the years with the last was during her Las Vegas residency back in 2008. Her current show is called "Divine Intervention" and it's to promote her most recent album, "It's The Girls" which features her favorites songs from girl-groups. I caught the L.A. show at the Staples Center on May 28 and the Divine one emerged from behind a large scrim with her face in place of God's on the famous Michelangelo fresco. Midler, sounding good and looking better, was a whirlwind as she zipped across the stage virtually non-stop throughout the show.

Time seemed to weigh on the mind of the sixty-nine year old singer (and made several hilarious jokes regarding her age throughout the evening) for she's indicated that this may likely be her last spin on the road. Midler found the greatest success in her musical career by covering old favorites from other singers and making them all her own. Clearly feeling nostalgic, she decided to dig out some she hadn't done live in years. Those tunes ranged from a cover of the Rolling Stones, "Beast of Burden", "Optimistic Voices" from "The Wizard of Oz" and "I Put a Spell On You" which was done in full witch costume from her 1993 film, "Hocus Pocus".

Midler did lively takes of music from the new record including The Andrew Sisters' chestnut, "Bei Mir Bist Du Schön", The Exciters, "Tell Him" and the surprising choice of TLC's "Waterfalls" which I found much more moving performed live.

Although her long-time mermaid character, Dolores Delago is now actually resting comfortably with the fishes in a funny bit, Midler did bring back Sophie Tucker where she hit the audience with a series of her infamously bawdy gags.

Midler waited until the final leg of the show to sing her crowd favorites such as "From a Distance", "Stay With Me" and "The Rose" which she instructed the audience to wait for her command to sing along while the light from cellphones in the air added a warm glow to the arena as she performed this number. She saved "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy", a cover of another Andrew Sisters song that launched Midler's recording career over forty years ago, for her encore.

As I was departing from this sensational show, a wave of sadness suddenly came over me. I realized that as the Divine Miss M seemed to be winding down her illustrious career, there doesn't appear to be any young performer out there with an innovative spirit, respect for tradition or genuine fabulosity to fill her well-traveled shoes. Bette Midler is clearly a unique talent and all-around entertainer and since most of today's generation displays little interest in the music of the past, it feels unlikely that a successor is on the horizon. Hopefully, I'm wrong but in the meantime, we still have our Bette.

RANDOM SIGHTS + SOUNDS

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