Cher is 70. She’s been on a farewell tour for 15 years. Her residency in a new casino should be a sad stroll through better days. It’s not. It’s a tight, 100 minute exercise in professionalism and joy. The most vocal anti-Trump musical legend is delivering exactly what her very large and diverse fan base wants.
Classic Cher is just that. Cher delivers hits from the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, 00s and 10s in 2017. With a 5 piece backing band and 10 dancers, you can see how the money was spent. Corners could have been cut but then you wouldn’t get nearly a dozen costume changes, a 10-foot tall elephant, new video packages and trapeze artists.
The audience leaves happy. I haven’t seen that many people take bad iPhone photos at a live event. It’s damn near impossible to get a good shot. Doesn’t matter. I did it too. At any moment, 10% of the crowd was taking a bad photo during a good show. One lady filmed most of it on her iPad. It looked horrible. I doubt she cares.
The show is about the past but it’s not nostalgic. In addition to “If I Could Turn Back Time” and “Believe,” the most memorable numbers are “The Beat Goes On” and “I Got You Babe.” It’s a duet, ala Natalie and Nat King Cole’s “Unforgettable.” The performance with Sonny doesn’t come off as cheap or insincere. Once again, this is a show in a casino by a performer with 50 years experience. It has every right to be cheap and insincere.
Cher uses a live mic mixed with prerecorded audio. She changes costumes between most numbers. This is not a halfway production. Most of the time Cher performs 90% nude and in heels. There’s no reason to repeat her age. Point is, Cher is an inspiration.
If Cher decides to stop singing she could still pack theaters with her storytelling. This is not a shock if you’ve ever seen her on talk shows (specifically The Late Show) and follow her on Twitter.
SOME OF MY TWTS R AMAZING🏆ESOTERIC,INSIGHTFUL,HYSTERICAL. Some,Indecipherable,Even 2Me🤔SOME,LIKE CHIMP W/ TYPEWRITER TRYING 2WRITE“HAMLET”🙄🤣
— Cher (@cher) March 18, 2017
A lot of the time Cher is not on stage. The long interludes between some songs exist because she’s changing into another extravagant costume. When she does reappear she’s greeted with oohs and ahhs. She is giving the people what they want. The people want big headdresses and not exactly PC songs. Is “Half-Breed” PC? Offensive? Progressive?
The MGM staff digs it. They danced, especially at the end. Everyone that could stand (it was an older crowd, it’s Cher in a casino with an expensive ticket on a Monday night, what do you expect?) dances. The woman next to me danced. After our row was scolded to sit down from some audience members behind us, politeness could only go so far. “If I Could Turn Back Time” garnered the largest reaction of the night and with a renewed sense of joy, she turned to me and said, “Should we dance?”
I replied with, “Hell yeah!” and she danced and her friend danced and everyone in our row was up and dancing and taking bad photos with our expensive phones and Cher looked like it was still 1989 and everything was right with the world. After the song the nice woman asked if any of our photos turned out better than hers. We said yes so she gave us her number. So we technically got a number at a Cher show in 2017.
The show closes with “Believe.” Before Cher takes the stage for the last time her dancers perform to an updated dubstep version of the 1998 hit. There is no need for an updated version of “Believe.” This is not a crowd that knows or cares about dubstep. But Cher doesn’t want to live in the past so there’s an updated sound.
I’ve been wanting to give this show extra meaning. Cher in a casino just outside D.C. in 2017 is perfect for multiple reasons. In addition to the quality material (some 80s power ballads and her song from the 2010 film Burlesque notwithstanding) and legendary status, she consistently rails against Trump and is performing in a building that houses a restaurant by the most famous chef that consistently rails against Trump. She’s incredibly relevant in a very weird time. I was hoping for something overtly political. But the show didn’t feel like a political statement. Because it’s not a political statement, at least on the surface.
One of the best shows I saw in 2016 was a Madonna tribute show in Mexico. It featured 20 resort employees trying their damndest to put on a SHOW. They were trying to deliver a Vegas style show with no Vegas money. After seeing Cher’s MGM residency, I appreciate that show even more. They were trying to do what Cher does.
The show, like Lady Gaga’s Super Bowl Halftime performance, is political without saying a word about POTUS. The songs preach love and understanding with a danceable backing track. The people on stage come from a wide array of backgrounds. Not talking about personal beliefs doesn’t really matter when you’re dressed like the Virgin Mary, singing about love, wearing pasties and a headdress. The audience knows where you stand or doesn’t care. Regardless of your political views, Cher’s cashing checks from conservatives and liberals alike.
Cher performs with an ease that takes you out of your daily routine. The show it reminds me of most is ZZ Top. Both have filled stadiums but are now playing slightly smaller rooms with nothing left to prove. They’re comfortable in inherently uncomfortable positions. Cher is doing it in heels and mostly nude.