Few artists could follow Cyndi Lauper, whose hour-long set opening for Cher Monday at Time Warner Cable Arena received a standing ovation. But Cher isn’t just any artist. At 68 (later this month) she’s the oldest female artist currently touring a full-scale arena show, but when she wore the floor length Native-American headdress and stick straight black hair during “Half-Breed” it was as if time had stopped in 1973.
Cher may be no longer be as limber and loose or as rail thin as her dancers, but it seemed fitting for the larger than life queen to tower over her subjects as she did in the Egyptian themed opening of her No. 1 2013 dance single “Woman’s World.”
So how does an AARP-card carrying diva rule an arena for almost two hours and 17 songs? She paces herself and takes a couple inches off her stilettos.
She performed nearly every song or two in a different costume and interludes featuring dancers and aerialists, footage of her years with Sonny Bono, her Oscar winning films, eras and fashion, and her band raging through instrumentals like “Bang Bang” gave her time to change.
She proved as capable a singer as Lauper - eight years her junior - and, like Lauper, was at her best belting it out on songs like “Walking in Memphis” and “Just Like Jesse James.” She didn’t dance much, but by late in the set when she emerged from a Trojan horse like a disco Helen of Troy belting “Take It Like a Man” she seemed to revel in it all. She was completely in her comfort zone donning the famous black see-through negligee-inspired one-piece from the “If I Could Turn Back Time” video. She strutted and even skipped in those thigh-climbing black boots during it and “I Found Someone.” I bet she never thought she’d still be wearing that number 25 years after she first slipped into it.
With Cher the costumes are half the fun. She went mod for her tribute to Sonny Bono during which they sang a posthumous duet of “I Got You Babe.” She played a fortune teller for “Dark Lady” and “Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves” amid an elaborate vintage circus set and soared through the crowd looking as if she’d stepped from a Raphaelite painting during the closer of “I Hope You Find It.” The sexiest outfit was a skimpy dress of silver cords that barely covered her breasts, which were hidden by a film of fabric and heart-shaped pasties.
As much as Cher played the over-the-top Vegas diva, what fans really like about her is when she gets real. For all the plastic surgery, skin, men, and incredible acting credits, Cher proved pretty normal sipping Dr. Pepper railing against the soft drink company for gifting her with a cheap cooler at a recent tour stop. She prefaced “You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me” by saying some nights it didn’t go so well (it went fine) and revealed that she had second thoughts about “trotting out” Bono for “Babe,” but knew he would approve. She even admitted her insecurities about touring in her late 60s.
“How do I outdo myself?” she’d asked herself before the tour. “Go out there, wear silly costumes, sing, and be fabulous.” And she was.
As for Lauper, from the first notes of “She Bop” through a segue into her Tony-winning “Kinky Boots” to the a capella segment of “True Colors,” she was on fire. In head-to-toe leather with a bright red dreadlocked wig that looked like she swiped it from Cher’s closet, Lauper was equally funny, candid, and in impeccable voice. The entire arena rose to its feet the moment “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” and Lauper led a teasing sing-along with “Let’s sing with some freaking spirit, please.”
Early on Cher winked as she promised this was her farewell farewell tour. While most artists are ready to retire by this age, she proved what one fan described as “amazing.” Let’s hope we haven’t actually seen the last of either of these women.