The Cher-cus came to town Friday night and provided nothing less than the spectacular night of entertainment you’d expect from the world’s preeminent showwoman. Yes, at 72 years of age, Cherilyn Sarkisian is still as charasmatic, indulgent and beautiful as ever – whatever your secrets to that incredible physique Cher please, err, share!
“What’s your granny doing tonight?” she jested with the crowd following a captivating, nearly 15 minute anecdote early that covered her “two days of turning 40”, the horrors of The Witches of Eastwick casting couch and that time she called David Letterman an asshole, plus a little bragging about doing a five-minute plank out back before heading onstage. Fair enough.
The night kicked off with DJ Andrew McClelland, who camped it up with swirling rainbow lights and singalongs to the likes of I Will Survive, 99 Luft Balloons and Respect – the latter earning the dancing DJ a fully fledged Aretha Franklin singalong from the predominantly female crowd. Even after he finished, the house music was pumping out YMCA and You Should Be Dancing, leaving little doubt as to who the night’s target markets were.
Cher emerged with sort of entrance you’d expect from one of the greats – the lights dimmed and the visuals led us through a chronological timeline of Cher’s most memorable moments, a reminder that she is as well known for her time on screen as on the radio. As whirlwind as it was, there was time for a little pause as the vision lingered on 1989’s most infamous, cannon straddling g-string with a few shots and angles – but more about that outfit later.
As the curtain dropped to reveal a magnificently opulent set, the Goddess of Pop descended from on high to deliver Woman’s World (which may or may not have featured significant lip synching) and Strong Enough, which along with All Or Nothing early were a reminder of Cher’s club renaissance in the early noughties.
The latter’s Arabian Nights theme felt like a night out in Vegas with dancers, circus performers and lavish costumes catching the eye. Unsurprisingly it became a theme for the evening, particularly during Cher’s prolonged periods off stage as trapeze spectaculars and dance productions padded the show to 100 minutes. And she certainly made up for it with umpteen glorious costume (and wig) changes.
Video footage also filled the gaps – a trip down memory lane for a montage of classic clips from The Sunny & Cher Comedy Hour (and Sonny & Cher Show) preempted two of the night’s more touching moments, as Cher duetted with late former husband Sonny Bono for both The Beat Goes On and a spine tingling I Got You Babe. Gypsys, Tramps and Thieves took us back to a circa 1898 carny experience, while Half-Breed‘s Pocahontas vibes touched on Cher’s Cherokee ancestry.
Next was a film montage featuring her Academy Award winning role in Moonstruck, acclaimed performance in Mask and other notable scenes that have kept her a box office drawcard, while musically Welcome To Burlesque was fun if inconsequential, and a trio of ABBA covers peaked as Cher stood high upon a balcony for Fernando, as fireworks exploded on the video screens behind her. We could have done without the awful, Disney-esque ballad After All (love theme from 1989 film Chances Are), but the ice princess set was no less spectacular than any before or after.
Yes, from the film footage to a 50s Elvis dedication dubbed “Chelvis” peaking with The Shoop Shoop Song (It’s In His Kiss), it was all about Cher, and probably a nice little history lesson for the unacquainted few. But it wasn’t like we came for anything less, and when she emerged wearing that iconic black lace body suit and g-string from 1989 to perform I Found Someone and If I Could Turn Back Time, complete with 80s guitar shreds and matching wig, the night hit its epic peak.
Following a brief encore break, a singalong to the eternally popular Believe to close the night felt like a well-deserved victory lap. Despite leaving out plenty of her big 80s and early 90s hits, spending half the show off stage and the odd high note not quite pitching, it was impossible to leave feeling like we’d spent the evening with anything less than one of the greats. Who knows when such evergreen Cher-fection will farewell us again?
Photos by Linda Dunjey