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In 1980, the head usher at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium gives his crew a pep talk: he wants tonight's "Betty Midler" show to go smoothly. He's a little worried about risque language, Liberace recently gave him a scare. Then, boom, there she is, with her backup trio, "The Harlettes," going from rock to ballad to medley, from "Big Noise From Winnetka" to "I Shall Be Released." It's a concentration of camp: she imitates Sophie Tucker, she's mermaid Dolores Delago, and between every song, it's non-stop movement and lots of raunchy patter. Written by
Bette Midler is truly a versatile performer. She can sing and act better than the rest of perrformers today. Her taped show is a great example of her abilities to truly dazzle the crowd. She still does that today 25 years after this concert has aired. Bette comes alive on stage more so than in film or television. In this taping, she really is at her best and peak despite her personal problems. I was hoping to see Katey Sagal as one of her Harlettes but she wasn't in this one. My best advice to Bette is to go back on tour. I never did understand the mermaid thing but Bette takes it to a new level. She has an amazing energy and can belt out "the Rose" and the songs before she returned in 1986. This taping must have happened before her nervous breakdown. Bette has performed everywhere imaginable from gay bathhouses in Greenwich Village to Radio City Music Hall uptown. This taped version is quite an event without pushing the envelope even by today's standard. She is still pretty tame in comparison and she can teach the younger generation of performers that you don't have to bare it all to grab their attention. Bette knows that people have paid good money to be entertained by her and she does that. She always does that and that's why she is one of the best live performers of our generation. Sing on, Bette.
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