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Live Review: Bette Midler @ United Center

| June 19, 2015 | 1 Comment

Bette Midler
United Center, Chicago
Thursday, June 18, 2015

From her earliest experiments belting notes between R-rated (and a few X-rated) jokes in bath houses, through a quadruple Grammy Award-winning recording career, triple Emmy Award-scoring film foray and a Tony Award-landing Broadway contribution, Bette Midler’s always marched to the beat of her own drum. In addition to carving out a diverse musical road few divas ever dared to travel (originals, oldies, rock n’ roll, showtunes, R&B, standards, comedy), “The Divine Miss M” carved out a larger than life personality, which after exactly fifty years in showbiz, has often been imitated but never as vivaciously or irreverently duplicated.

And for the first major time in ten years, the singer/actress extraordinaire returned to touring in a spectacle dubbed “Divine Intervention,” filling up most of Chicago’s United Center (hot on the heels of the Chicago Blackhawks’ Stanley Cup victory) with loads of hits, history and her curious new covers collection It’s The Girls! (a feminine tribute as encompassing as The Andrew Sisters, The Supremes, The Ronettes and TLC). Together with a Vegas-ready backing band and updated trio of Harlettes, the sometimes nice/often naughty legend vocally and visually defied her 69 years, a fact further reinforced in early selections like “I Look Good” and “I’ve Still Got My Health.”

Clinging tightly to those assets, Midler swayed through her ageless arrangement of Bobby Freeman’s “Do You Want To Dance?,” served a sobering, piano-centered stab at TLC’s “Waterfalls” and bravely conquered Leonard Cohen’s “Everybody Knows.” Instead of catering to the PBS crowd like many peers, this unpredictable performer aimed for a more lively cross section, wickedly crooning the blues through Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ “I Put A Spell On You” (in her finest Hocus Pocus film garb) and ruggedly rocking The Rolling Stones’ “Beast Of Burden” (overcoming a brief microphone malfunction).

Several signature ballads also popped up towards the back half of the show, including a straightforward reading of “The Rose,” the peace-pleading “From A Distance” and a spine-chilling “Wind Beneath My Wings” (which she sold as if it were the first time even though it probably was the billionth). Along with The Andrew Sisters’ charmingly nostalgic swinger “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” and The Chi-Lites’ soulful “Have You Seen Her,” Midler stayed on her A-game to the very last second, suggesting she’s either just as committed to entertaining as ever, or there’s some serious “Divine Intervention” keeping this Beaches broad firing on all cylinders.

-Review and photos by Andy Argyrakis

 

 

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Category: Live Reviews, Weekly

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  1. amynieman says:

    AWESOME show!! First time seeing the Divine Miss M in person and did so with my 2 adult daughters….my tummy hurts from laughing so much and her singing is spot on!!
    Love you Bette!
    Amy

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