“What’s your granny doing tonight?”
That’s what Cher asked the cheering, adoring crowd packed into Infinite Energy Center on Friday night for a stop on the “Here We Go Again Tour.” Decked out in a space-age leotard and boots with massive orange wig and headdress, she looked nowhere near her 72 years as she pranced and prowled across the stage delivering nearly two-hours of hits.
The tour is in support of her album of ABBA covers, “Dancing Queen,” released to critical acclaim last fall after her appearance in “Mama Mia 2: Here We Go Again,” which is based on the Swedish supergroup’s catalogue of disco classics. The tour’s name is also a tongue-in-cheek reference to the fact that Cher supposedly retired after the 326-city “Farewell Tour” nearly 20 years ago.
With five decades of hits to source from, Cher knows exactly what to give her audience, which ranges from senior citizens who loved her as part of Sonny and Cher in the 1960s and early 70s to gay boys who discovered her in the 90s during her ascension to club music diva. It’s the old razzle dazzle of her variety show days with late husband and musical partner Sonny Bono that informs this tour. There’s a dizzying array of elaborate and outlandish costumes and wigs, camped up choreography, witty banter and video montages of her storied career as a singer and Oscar-winning actress.
The show opens with the more modern club hits “Woman’s World” and “Strong Enough” before the clock is turned back and the familiar set from the “Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour” lights up on the multi-level stage. Rousing and oddly touching duets of “The Beat Goes On” and “I Got You Babe” are performed with Sonny, who delivers his vocals via video monitor.
If there’s one let-down in the show it’s that she excised her 70s solo hits like “Dark Lady,” and “Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves” to make room for entertaining, but forgettable numbers from her film “Burlesque.” But the disappointment is short-lived as the disco balls start to rotate and Cher and her dancers deliver three ABBA mega hits in a row – “Waterloo,” “SOS” and “Fernando.”
The show closes with Cher’s two biggest hits: “If I Could Turn Back Time” – where she once again dons the barely-there, cut-out body suit that got the music video banned from MTV in 1989 (and did I mention that she’s 72?) – and club anthem “Believe” from 1998. These are the tunes the audience has been waiting for all evening and Cher delivers them in a canny one-two punch.
Chances are we haven’t seen or heard the last of Cher. The next time she tours, she might very well be asking, “What’s your great-granny doing tonight?”
I can’t close this review without mentioning Nile Rodgers and Chic, who should be headlining their own arena shows instead of being an opening act. Rodgers had his hand in some of music’s biggest hits – from David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance,” to Diana Ross’ “I’m Coming Out,” to Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” – as well as his disco hits with Chic like “Le Freak” and “Good Times.” All of these were part of the funky fresh set from Rodgers and Co. and that barely scratched the surface. Had he been given another hour, we might have heard Duran Duran’s “The Reflex,” INXS’ “Original Sin,” and Madonna’s “Like A Virgin.” If you’re reading this in another city and going to the show, make sure to arrive early and check out what is quite possibly the best opening act band ever. Seriously.