Concert Review: Cher’s variety show roots razzle dazzle at Infinite Energy Arena

What’s your granny doing tonight?

“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.

“The Beat Goes On” with Sonny Bono

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.

Cher performs “If I Could Turn Back Time.”

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?”

Nile Rodgers and Chic

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.

  1. Niles was amazing and he did play “we are Family”…..maybe you were in the restroom or getting a beer?

  2. Having attended the show Friday night, I have comments both pro and con.
    Yes, Cher’s portion of the concert, the actual reason I was there, was quite amazing in so many ways. Cher herself, simply goes without saying. Her singing continues to be strong and expressive. The staging of each number was dramatic, Broadway-worthy in every way, and clearly supportive of the theme of each number. Yet, the show left me with unanswered questions.

    Why, first of all , did the opening group, Chic, for all their obvious talent, take almost 45 minutes of valuable performance time from Cher? They were not the reason for the attendance, the trouble and expense of the ticket, nor the added expense of the travel and, for me, the hotel expense for the evening. Was the extended time of their performance the reason for her cutting some anticipated numbers from her show? I will never have an answer for this.

    Second, for whatever the reason, Cher rather abruptly left the stage after what turned out to be her final number. The audience had some anticipated numbers taken from them, and we were denied the closure of being able to wildly stand and cheer for this iconic entertainer. This is a gift, I feel, that the audience can return to the performer, showing at the end of the show a measure of love and appreciation. We did not have this. There was no goodbye, thank you, nothing. I wonder if this had to do, again, with the noticeable length of the opening act. Yes, a very talented group, but not the reason we were there.

    In my hotel elevator, I rode to my floor with a woman who had seen Cher 12 times in concert . Lucky lady. This was my first and probably only time. I do not know why Cher’s concert was shortened and abruptly concluded. I feel and certainly wish there had been more. The two hours expected. What I saw was amazing, however. I guess that better than none at all.

    What was my Grammy doing that night? Well, nothing on the same planet as Cher!

  3. This sounds fabulous, Collin; wish I could have worked this in. I saw her in 1988 (I think) when both Cher and I were small children–ha! She was a legend then (had just done Moonstruck and won an Oscar); now she’s a goddess-legend!

  4. Quite frankly, as a Cher fan of 50 years, I would much rather see her with ONE spotlight and alone with five fabulous costume changes as opposed to the un-needed circus she presents as she does with this ‘once again farewell tour’….I have seen her several times, with each show adding more dancers , lights, acrobatics for naught. She should recognize her own ability to sing and deliver…..for THAT is the reason we love her. At 72, there is no need to autotuned dance numbers……..just sing, Cher, the southern Californian/Rock that you sing best……with a pink spot. I simply love you. Dale Smith (Maine)

Sign up for our emails

Enter your email and stay on top of local news!