jeancher sue me

My wife Wilma, my sisters Cher and Jean and me in front at the Bette Midler concert.

From row 19 of section 110, I took in Bette Midler’s DIVINE INTERVENTION touring concert, along with my sisters and my wife.

She’s 69, Ms. Midler is. She can play the good ol’ broad, and she can play the part of a singer who is capable of singing her heart out as far as it will go. She can be as bawdy as anyone and yet bring so much class and style to a show. Her selections of music shows a huge respect for popular music of all ages – -not just her childhood, her teenage years, and her movies, but also for the musicians and their songs of today.

Confession time: this is my first arena concert ever. Yes, EVER, as in virginal concept of ‘ever’. My sisters have seen many concerts like this – Herman’s Hermits, Paul Revere and the Raiders, Linda Ronstadt, — many more that I don’t know about. My wife’s big arena concert was the WHO is 8th grade – and she has stories about that.

My limited concerts – not of the arena nature – include Peter, Paul and Mary and the Minnesota State Fair – and also James Taylor at the same place. My wife Wilma and I have seen the Gatlin Brothers twice – once at the now defunct Carlton Celebrity Room, and then at the Iron Range Interpretive Center in Chisholm, MN. That’s it. None of those had big visuals, or stirring lighting or costume changes. So what did I get for my first arena concert?

bette opening screen

Our view

Oh, what a show! Let’s start with a chance to look at all the technical things at hand – a pair of projection screens to either side of the stage, more projection surfaces as part of the stage . . . and lights, sound equipment – all sitting on the floor just below us, ready to be activated and used as it what designed – You want costume changes? Oh, yes, starting with a pink short dress, through a few other changes that reflected the various segments of the show – and ending with a red sequined dress that was eye popping and perfect for the last set.

light crew up

The lighting crew up in their nest — loaded on the floor with safety harnesses and all, then hoisted 60 ft. in the air.

Which was to bring us a big arena show.

A few songs from BEACHES, a few girl-group songs a tribute to Sophie Tucker (more on this later), a salute to HOCUS POCUS, and then those songs that we all think about when we think of Bette Midler.

The ‘new’ songs? At least for me, hearing her do BEAST OF BURDEN was fun – and highly energetic. She also did a song by Leonard Cohen called “EVERYBODY KNOWS” which is a sorrowful and sour song – and also TLC’s “WATERFALL” – with such musical touch and passion.

Like I said, she’s 69 years old. That’s 8 years away for me. I haven’t had that much energy for two hours straight in a long time – and here she is, bringing it in song and patter like she was fresh and new to the career.

The patter – she didn’t merely talk about the songs as if she were an NPR classical music announcer. She effused. She bubbled. She gushed. She loved every song she had selected, no doubt about it. Funny, witty, clever, honest, warm – Favorite comment (and this comes from a review I read from the Miami Herald as well, so I know it is a line she uses): “Remember when Sally Field saying YOU LIKE ME – YOU LIKE ME at the Oscars? Little did we know she was inventing Facebook…..”

Clever. And funny. There were more, but I’m not spoiling it any further.

Except.

The Sophie Tucker segment was singing interspersed with the bawdy jokes of that day … told with a flair, told with a grin … and even though the jokes were racy and raunchy, Bette delivered them with a vocabulary and with a storytelling style that it was nearly impossible to realize that they were INDEED racy and raunchy. Shall I tell you one? Nah. You’ve heard them all – just not like this, so I’ll make you wait.

The big finish – her songs – THE ROSE, FROM A DISTANCE, and BENEATH MY WINGS and BOOGIE WOOGIE BUGLE BOY – oh, yes, the house went nuts.

Bette at her best – Bette was wonderful.

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