entertainment

Cher review: The ultimate gay icon turns back time during first UK tour date for 15 years

The Goddess of Pop showed the children how it's done at London's O2 Arena on Sunday night (20 October).

2019-10-21

"I have one thing I want to say before I get this extravaganza started”, boomed Cher in her unmistakable timbre as she took to the stage at London’s O2 Arena on Sunday night. "What’s your granny doing tonight?!"

Decked out in an electric blue wig and a tiny bedazzled leotard of the kind you’d usually see on a member of Little Mix, Cher’s eagerly-anticipated return to the UK stage comes 15 years after 2004’s 'Living Proof: The Farewell Tour' – and the 73-year-old honorary Londoner didn’t disappoint during a deliciously camp and surprisingly candid set spanning all six decades of her storied career.

The packed arena was still catching its breath after balls-the-wall renditions of set openers 'Woman's World' and 'Strong Enough' as Cher unexpectedly decided to take it down a notch, launching into a 10-minute (yes, really) anecdote about industry sexism and ageism that was in parts motivational speech and parts stand-up routine (within minutes, Trump had been branded an "asshole" and Boris not "much better"."

With typical self-knowing humour, the superstar recalled how a Hollywood producer branded her "too old" for a film career on her 40th birthday, at the height of her '80s movie renaissance.

"Tears were steaming down my face, and I thought ‘you know what? These are fabulous tears. These are tears you’d pay for’," she declared to rapturous applause, adding mischievously: "I looked like Madonna - not the blonde one."

It was this sense of fun, nostalgia and empowerment that permeated Cher's 90-minute, where the hits were outnumbered only by the number of costume and wigs changes (we lost count after six). 

The singer touched on every iteration herself as she duetted on the big screen with the late Sonny Bono for surprisingly poignant renditions of 'The Beat Goes On' 'I Got You Babe', and adopted her movie Madame persona for 'Welcome to Burlesque'.

 
 
 
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Such a fun night @cher 💜 #ledge

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Perhaps sensing the, erm, make-up of the crowd (ahem), it was her late '90s club queen anthems that were paid the most dues, with transcendent performances of 'Gayatri Mantra' and 'All or Nothing' delivered with a troupe of scantily-clad and acrobatic dancers in tow.

But Cher proved she could still command a stage solo, with nothing but her (still impressively strong) voice keeping the party going during ABBA numbers from last year's Mamma tie-in album Dancing Queen including 'SOS' and 'Fernando'.

If any criticism could be levelled, it's that there were perhaps one too many video montages of Cher's career-defining moments designed to cover the transitions between sets and wigs - though they did present they perfect opportunity to reflect on her legacy.

 
 
 
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Big thank you @loreerodkin for such an amazing experience! #jewelleryatelier#travel#concert#cher#legend#queen#

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Despite her status as the mononymous Goddess of Pop, Cher has always been outsider, both in the industry and society - perhaps something that explains why new generations of gay men continue to hold her up as the ultimate icon.

As her 1986 Oscars acceptance speech played out on screen, one line stuck out from a woman who, at that point, was 20 years into her career and at the height of her powers: “I don’t know if this means I’m somebody - but I guess I’m on my way."

In her eighth decade, Cher showed that drive is nowhere deserting her as she rounded out the show with a string of classics that induced an audience frenzy: A powerhouse performance of her classic Marc Cohn cover 'Walking in Memphis', and neon-lit rendition of 'The Shoop Shoop Song (It's in His Kiss)' and finally 1989's 'If I Could Turn Back Time' in that catsuit.

The jubilant atmosphere reached fever pitch as Cher returned to the stage to deliver the killer blow in the form of 1998 pop behemoth 'Believe': a delight that, much like the star herself, only the most joyless of music fans could fail to appreciate. 

Rating: 4/5

Cher's 'Here We Go Again Tour' setlist:

Woman's World

Strong Enough

Gayatri Mantra

All or Nothing

The Beat Goes On (Sonny & Cher song)

I Got You Babe (Sonny & Cher song)

Welcome to Burlesque

Waterloo (ABBA cover)

SOS (ABBA cover)

Fernando (ABBA cover)

After All

Walking in Memphis (Marc Cohn cover)

The Shoop Shoop Song (It's in His Kiss) (Betty Everett cover)

I Found Someone (Michael Bolton cover)

If I Could Turn Back Time

Encore: Believe

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