Bette Midler’s spectacular Roxy opening was easily the pop concert of the year in Los Angeles. Despite strong bids by Rod Stewart and Linda Ronstadt, Midler’s show was in a class by itself.
Responding to the challenge of her first club tour in five years, the captivating singer-comedienne notonly demonstrated at the Roxy that she is the queen of the cabaret circuit, but that she may very well be the most arresting American female performer since Judy Garland.
While Barbra Streisand can be spellbinding vocally, her live shows reflect little of the range of Midler’s. Liza Minnelli — another possible contender — covers much territory on stage, but she doesn’t offer the imagination or the vision.
Midler’s domination of the concert scene in ’77 represents two breakthroughs. It’s the first time since I began ranking performers in ’72 that a pop — rather than rock — figure.has won. It’s also the first time a club snow has broken the arena-auditorium stranglehold.
Moving from ’72 to ’76, the past winners are: the Rolling Stones at the Inglewood Forum. Elton John atthe Hollywood Bowl, Bob Dylan and the Band at the Forum, Elton John at Dodger Stadium, Bruce Springsteen at the Santa Monica Civic auditorium.
Of the concerts I saw this year, these five had the most impact: Bette Midler at the Roxy, Dec. 8 — “Close Encounters
of the Worst Kind.” That was the theme of Midler’s 10-day Roxy engagement. The show didn’t have the lavish production or stage effects of her classic Dorothy Chandler Pavilion shows of two years ago, but it had an even more frantic pace, a wanner tone and, ultimately, a bigger wallop.