BetteBack Concert Review: Bette “Unbelievable” Management “Paranoid”

Alton Telegraph
Telegraph Leisure Editor
August 29, 1973

Bette Midler, music’s female Alice Cooper, brought her outrageous show to the Mississippi River Festival to the delight of 4,200 enthusiastic and screaming fans.

Not that Miss Midler is a no talent freak like Cooper. To the contrary, she is a very talented singer and performer.

But her show is bizarre and gimmicky on the same tone as Cooper, although while Cooper enrages his audiences, Miss Midler delights her fans.

She likes to refer to herself as “The Divine Miss M.” Instead, it should be the “Unbelievable Miss M.”

She comes on stage, looking like a truck driver in drag, mouthing nostalgic songs, and the crowd loves it.

Bette Midler got her start entertaining in bars of New York. Her attraction was obvious at the festival Tuesday night as St. Louis and Edwardsville gay groups came out in force to see the concert.

Her act is filled with gay slang and outrageous language, bringing more laughs and cheers from the audience.

Bette Midler’s songs run the gamut from old Andrews Sisters hits to old 50s rock to popular song.

Her stage comments are biting and to the point. In lengthy monologues, she zeroed in on Nixon, Watergate, the Nixon daughters, Karen Carpenter and Granite City.

“We’re doing this tour in the sleaziest places. First we went to Baltimore and next we came to Edwardsville-St. Louis,” she said.

Her act included a band of excellent muscians and three woman singers to add to the show’s bizarre quality. But her onstage act is just that–an act.

Offstage, she is quiet and demure, but is surrounded by paranoid managers and assistants who stop at nothing to protect the image of their “star.”

Tuesday night, her road manager threw a St. Louis photographer off the backstage area even though the photographer had a proper backstage pass issued by the festival officials.

MRF concert manager Lyle Ward, who promised earlier to provide free access for photographers, yielded to the demands of the road managers and banned all photographers from backstage.

It was a shame that a performer who depends on public exposure for survival is surrounded by managers who invite bad incidents.

It is also a shame that the management of the festival allows these people to dictate policy to them and that they continually refuse to stand up to the eccentrics.

The backstage fiasco was a real sour note to an already bizarre, but entertaining, concert.

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