Above: Dozens of Dressed to Kill-er photos!
BOY CULTURE REVIEW OF CYNDI LAUPER & CHER: ***1/2 out of ****
When Cher took the Dressed to Kill stage, the venue throbbed like the main artery in the middle of the guiltiest pleasure ever. She appeared beneath a gigantic set of pheasant feathers, adorned in more glitzy accoutrements than one could make from an entire discount bead store. And wearing dreads, a la Cleopatra. Her smile had that inimitable “I know, right?” quality that resides midway between intentional camp and an unapologetic love of all things tacky.
The showgirl had arrived.
She opened the concert with “Woman's World,” her mostly dismissed lead single from her latest album, Closer to the Truth. Heard months after its release as a kick-off tune, it sounds a lot better. Like quite a few of the numbers, it was done to track, but was sold hard by Cher via her facial expressions and easy flaunting of her costume.
She segued seamlessly (or, considering that bold costume, seamfully) into her scandalously underplayed 1998 release “Strong Enough,” which was lost on radio in the wake of “Believe.” Her gladiator-garbed backup dancers bounced around the stage with zero of the coolness of most divas' dancers; it wasn't about being cool, it was about being outrageous and flashy and inciting fun.
The projection behind her resembled a cheesy, vintage electronic one-armed bandit in all its 8bit glory.
Probably the least satisfying aspect of the show was the fact that in order to accommodate the myriad of costume changes, Cher spent a lot of time offstage while her dancers distracted us; it felt like there were several instances in which she sang only one song before disappearing to do a medium-quick change. But this allowed for spectacles like what came next, a gaudy, blood-red, vampire-themed “Dressed to Kill,” an album track from the latest CD.
If you think for a second that this didn't end with Cher biting some dude's neck, you don't know Cher very well, do you?
I think this was the sequence in which Cher looked the hottest and the most youthful, though I have to say she looked the best she's looked in years throughout, refreshed and dewy.
She joked about being 68 years old, asking us, “And what is your granny doing tonight?” I bet not this! before taking a playful swipe at Lady Gaga and Katy Perry's insignificance compared to the icon that is she.
The next segment consisted of back-to-back duets between Cher and her late hubby, Sonny, something she admitted to us sheepishly was something she never thought she'd do. It didn't bother me seeing Cher—who looked shockingly like the Cher of 50 years ago in her bangs—crooning alongside stock footage of Sonny, at least not as much as seeing Audrey Hepburn's image conjured up to sell products on TV. Both “The Beat Goes On” and “I Got You Babe” were huge crowd-pleasers, but nothing compared to the next trio.
It's hard for me to justify why I wanted to see Cher so much, considering the fact that I'm not wild about most eras of her music, but probably my least favorite period would be her disco era; I just always felt that her hugest hits from back then came off as “Disco Duck”-style novelty hits; that's how they sound to me today, too, but the audience was lost in a full-on nostalgiagasm that was infectious. Garbed as a carnival star for “Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves” and “Dark Lady” and aglow in a light-up headdress (I guess she, as a half-breed herself, gets a pass?) for “Half-Breed,” Cher was actually most in her element racing through these corny foot-tappers.
Burlesque, Cher's last movie, was considered a bomb, but its track “Welcome to Burlesque” made for an excellent mid-show re-energizer, and saw Cher in her most sophisticated ensemble, something reminiscent of latter-day Dietrich
Dietrich, above, was six years younger than Cher is now in this perf.
For “You Haven't Seen the Last of Me,” Cher warned us that it could go well or go poorly, implying that it was the first completely live number. She sounded fine, and felt more connected to her adoring legions of fans with no safety net.
When Cher entered via Trojan horse for “Take it Like a Man,” the best song on her new CD, it was impossible not to think about Madonna's Super Bowl extravaganza. But when she emerged in a tousled blonde wig, it was a not-so-distant flashback to Lady Gaga's recent incarnation. But these references, along with plenty of P!nk (they share a manager), never overshadowed the sheer Cher-ness of it all.
Cher's gold-gilt armor and her glittering centurions made this my favorite number of the night, a song that's reminiscent of my all-time favorite Cher song, the utterly unknown '80s post-disco ditty “Skin Deep.”
The diva's next look reminded me of Fran Drescher on a talk show—snazzy but no big whoop, just an attractive look without the shock factor. It suited the songs, her beautiful “Walking in Memphis” cover and a seated take on the song that got the night's absolute biggest shout, “Just Like Jesse James.”
As if to prove an earlier boast that she could still fit into her iconic “If I Could Turn Back Time” outfit, Cher returned to do that song after an extended “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)” interlude and a simply delivered “I Found Someone,” looking for all the world like she did 25 years ago on that aircraft carrier.
Though she had skipped a few well-known hits (“Take Me Home” and “After All” come to mind), all that was really left was her big Believe finale, which was delivered in a faux-see-through bodysuit sporting red hearts over her nipples and ropes of crystals, topped off with platinum hair.
The last we got to see of Cher was memorable: She hopped in an Elizabethan throne and was flown to the center of the venue and then, slowly, made a wide arc around the outer periphery, allowing Cher to commune directly with those in the cheap seats.
This was done in an absurd pre-Raphaelite gown and braids, which had Cher making her most incredulous expression of the night.
With a bow to all, Cher walked off the stage. But she isn't going anywhere for long—she'd already called the tour her farewell, farewell, farewell tour, winking broadly.
Thanks for reading. Your reward: A few shots of Cher's sexpot dancers: