The United Center was packed Feb. 8 for Cher's show, filled to the rafters with the LGBT community, drunk middle-aged women and older couples who were possibly celebrating an early Valentine's Day. There were plenty of drag queens in the audience that night as well as some fans that just tend to look like her.
The Here We Go Again Tour kicked things off with Nile Rodgers performing his funky Chic tunes. Opening for Cher would be a daunting task for many, but not for the man who penned "I'm Coming Out" and "We Are Family." He just fit right in.
Empowering songs such as "Woman's World" and "Strong Enough" began the Cher section of the concert as she descended on a trapeze to screams from the crowd. Cherilyn Sarkisian certainly knows how to make an entrance.
A disgruntled bartender at the venue mentioned that he didn't want to hear Cher talk about politics as Barbra Streisand recently did there for her concert. Cher didn't need to as her Twitter page speaks volumes. She did tell a few stories about her struggles at the beginning, but that was quickly left behind as she traveled through the decades of her career in song.
Late ex-husband Sonny Bono was projected on a large video screen for "I Got You Babe" and was there in spirit. The nostalgia of the '70s has always been a highlight of a Cher show, from past television vignettes to her duet of "The Beat Goes On." After the success of Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, Cher made the age-appropriate album Dancing Queen, which is full of ABBA covers. "Waterloo," "SOS" and "Fernando" have now replaced her standards "Dark Lady" and "Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves."
The song choices for a Cher concert are really a Sophie's choice these days. Does she get rid of "After All" and "The Shoop Shoop Song ( It's in His Kiss )" instead? "Welcome to Burlesque" must be kept just for the costumes and spectacle, but it's certainly not better than some of her classic tracks.
A video segment with Cher reminiscing about Elvis Presley and dressing as him in drag led into Her Marc Cohn cover of "Walking in Memphis." Another successful montage involved her acting roles; it was artfully pieced together as it played on large video screens. The quote that brought down the house was from Stuck on You: "Do you know why I don't beg? Because I am a fucking Oscar winner!" Clips from Silkwood, Mask, The Witches of Eastwick and Moonstruck were also played of the Golden Globe and Academy Award winner.
She literally turned back the clock by wearing her signature Bob Mackie look from the video "If I Could Turn Back Time." She strutted confident back and forth making good use of the space and perfect lighting.
The 72-year-old puts out a well-planned show that everyone should see live at least once. As good as her dancers are, the focus and spotlight always remain on her. The costume changes she is known for never stopped coming right down until "Believe" at the end, in which she wore a revealing silver sparkly number and new red wig.
You can take Cher out of Las Vegas, but can't take the Vegas out of Cher. Her Nevada residency has paid off by showing a well-curated set list, eye-popping costumes and the hits that kept the crowd on its feet. I have attended many farewell concerts of Cher over the years that she now jokes about. Are the fans ready to "Go Again?" We will see.
Photos and text by Jerry Nunn