At Nissan Pavilion last night, Cher kicked off her first tour in nine years with one of her typically offbeat covers, U2's "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For." The 15,000 spectators, however, found exactly what they were looking for: a dynamic, over-the-top extravaganza that featured eight costume changes (and eight corollary wig changes), seven musicians, six dancers, three video-film retrospectives and one eternal diva bringing to the stage old-fashioned glitz and glamour the likes of which we seldom see anymore.
Better yet, Cher delivered her 90-minute career retrospective with cheerful abandon, her husky rock warble fully invested in every song, from the discofied U2 anthem to her own recent chart-topping single, "Believe," reprised here with spinning acrobats and silver-plated costumes brighter than a thousand mirror balls.
For her opening numbers, Cher appeared with waist-length red hair and a flowing dress--think Stevie Nicks in "Carmen"--exuding a healthy glow and radiant energy. She may have missed the stage as much as her fans missed her on one, particularly with the neo-disco thump of new songs like "All or Nothing" and "Strong Enough," her own take on "I Will Survive."
Which Cher certainly has. Though she did no material associated with Sonny and Cher (that era was remembered via hilarious video clips), she did revisit the '70s for the first time since, well, the '70s, first with the maudlin ballad "The Way of Love," and then in a medley of her classic story-songs, "Half-Breed," "Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves" and "Dark Lady." For this bit of time travel, which featured a giant lava lamp and other period references, Cher sported the long, straight black hair and a Bob Mackie gown, the look that first caught our attention. Much of the show served as a reminder of Cher's chameleon charm--from the silver tassels that barely draped her head and body on "Take Me Home" and the dark Gypsy tousle on the flamenco-flavored "Dove L'Amour" to the platinum wig and supersonic silver pants she sported on the obvious encore, "Believe." Little wonder the costume changes were cheered and applauded as loudly as any of Cher's old hits.
There were some intriguing juxtapositions and isolated triumphs: the insistently somber "We All Sleep Alone," apparently autobiographical these days, followed by the jubilant relief of "I've Found Someone"; the aching, modern power ballad "After All" and a '60s doo-wop classic, "The Shoop Shoop Song (It's in His Kiss)"; a hard-driving cover of Marc Cohn's "Walking in Memphis," featuring a seldom-seen video clip in which Cher impersonates Elvis. Through her fully committed performance and through clip compilations from her film and television work, Cher reminded the multi-generational crowd just how much fun she's been and for how long, and perhaps how unsurprising it should be that her new album is the biggest in a career that stretches back 35 years. Toward show's end, Cher belted out one of her metal plaints, "If I Could Turn Back Time." Not even Cher can do that, but she sure managed to make it stand still for 90 minutes.
The last time Cyndi Lauper performed at Nissan, opening for Tina Turner, she was eight months pregnant. Last night, despite lingering bronchitis and with an 18-month-old in tow, Lauper seemed intent on proving that moms just wanna have fun, too. After a desultory opening act by Wild Orchid, she delivered a highly spirited albeit short set that touched on most of her hits and allowed her to touch most of her fans, some literally: On a cover of the Trammps' "Disco Inferno," Lauper made quite a splash when she dived into the audience executing a full Gloria Gaynor. She opened with a punchy "She Bop," then digressed a bit with lesser-known tunes from sadly overlooked latter albums (including a wildly emoted "Who Let In the Rain"). Highlights included a subtle pastel rendering of "True Colors," a toughened-up "Money Changes Everything" and an audience-fueled "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" that managed to live up to its title.
CAPTION: Cher in one of the eight outfits--and eight wigs--she wore last night.
CAPTION: Cher's energy belied her nine-year tour absence.