For some reason, this word is the first thing that popped into my mind the very moment the spotlights at the Infinite Energy Center in Duluth lit up the stage to introduce the extraordinary chanteuse known universally as Cher.
Before I get into Cher and all her resplendent glory, the opening act deserves to be mentioned. Nile Rodgers and Chic kicked things off with a dynamic performance that had this audience mesmerized. The eight-song set showcased some of the most important dance music of all time that Rodgers had a hand in creating. This mastermind was the architect of such hits as “We Are Family”, Diana Ross’ “Upside Down” as well as the iconic pop music anthem, “Get Happy” that were performed this evening. I don’t care how old you are, if you didn’t get out of your seat to join in the celebration as hit after hit were performed onstage, you shouldn’t have been in the arena.
The crowd was still buzzing when the lights finally went down to introduce the belle of the ball, the former Cherilyn Sarkisian. At 72 years young, this woman is indeed very well-preserved. As she made her grand entrance, accompanied by what looked like a shielded attachment of Elfin guard assigned to protect their ethereal queen, Cher launched into the dance floor hits “Woman’s World” followed by “Strong Enough”.
Interestingly enough, despite the fact Cher has released 26 studio recordings, the bulk of this show – outside of the eight cover tunes – touched on only four albums released in the last 20 years. The point I’m trying to make here is this. Cher has five decades of recorded material to draw from when putting together this show. The crowds that come out to witness these two-hour spectacles cover the gamut of the age spectrum. This fact wasn’t taken into consideration when it came to song selection. Two of the most notable musical casualties that were glaring omissions included “Half-Breed” and “Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves”. I could have easily done without “Welcome to Burlesque” or “Gayatri Mantra” but it wasn’t my call.
The dizzying array of costume changes and choreography designed around each tune made any minor disappointment eventually fade away. It was also nice to hear Cher’s rendition of Mark Cohn’s classic “Walking in Memphis”, Elvis’ “Heartbreak Hotel” and the Laura Branigan cover, “I Found Someone”.
Apparently Cher’s exposure to Abba music from the movie she appeared in, Mama Mia – Here We Go Again last year, had a huge impact on the 72-year old superstar. Midway through the show, Cher belted out the ABBA staples “Waterloo”, “S.O.S” and “Fernando” to the delight of those in attendance.
The one touching moment in the show came when Cher actually did turn back time to recreate the set of the TV show that launched her career, The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour. With her former husband delivering his lines through a video monitor, the pair sang their timeless hits “The Beat Goes On” and “I Got You Babe”. For those old enough in the crowd to remember this duo’s heyday in the early ‘70s – and there were plenty of them in attendance this evening – the stroll down memory lane was a cherished one.
Cher ended the evening’s performance with arguably her two biggest hits, “If I Could Turn Back Time” and “Believe.” It was a fitting conclusion to this aural delight as well as a tremendous tribute to the unique woman at the center of it all. Accoutrement indeed!
– David Huff