azcentral's Randy Cordova reviewed Cher's first tour performance since 2005...
It can't be easy being Cher. Fans don't expect her to simply strut around on stage and sing; they want a spectacle. Cher apparently sees this as a challenge, because the "Dressed to Kill" tour is bigger, stronger and shinier than her last outing, the so-called farewell tour that ended in 2005.
This tour launched in Phoenix on Saturday, March 22, to a sold-out US Airways Center. Opening act Pat Benatar went on 30 minutes late, meaning Cher didn't take the stage until after 10 p.m. The main attraction expressed some nerves about the show before she even appeared. Prior to the curtains opening, Cher's voice boomed out over the sound system: "When you grade this show, grade it on a f---ing curve!"
It was the kind of happily profane and blunt talk that is one of Cher's trademarks. One of her others, of course, is the larger-than-life live performance, which she mastered during her days as a Vegas headliner starting in the late 1970s. It was evident there was no change in that department, either, as soon as Cher appeared on top of a pedestal in an Egyptian-themed outfit, sporting a towering headdress. It was crazy in just the right way.
The show opened with a breathless one-two punch by featuring her recent club hit "Woman's World," followed by the twirly disco of 1998's "Strong Enough." Then Cher talked to the crowd in delightfully disconnected fashion, with a conversation that started with the topic of Kim Kardashian's rear and ended on Abraham Lincoln's stovepipe hat. She claimed this was definitely her farewell tour, though how seriously can we take the news? At 67, she looks fit and ageless, though she doesn't shy away from the topic: "Any people here my age?" she asked the crowd, to a cheer of approval. "I don't believe you," she announced.
From there, the show moved from one eye-popping set piece to another, while the costumes got increasingly grand. Cher outfits are like her greatest hits, in that there are some in the mix that fans love more than others. These include the striking Native American headdress she donned for "Half-Breed" and an outfit that recalled the flesh-baring number from 1987's "I Found Someone" video.
Musically, she has touched on different styles through the years, and a five-piece band (with two backing singers) capably helped her run through her history. Her dark-hued voice was in fine shape as she worked her way through a setlist that focused more on past triumphs as opposed to her most recent album, last year's "Closer to the Truth." She didn't even mention the disc from the stage. Then again, why should she? She's Cher, and shameless plugging seems beneath her.
The song choices were smart, ranging from the AM-radio bliss of "Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves" and "Dark Lady" to a loving reading of Marc Cohn's "Walking in Memphis," which she recorded on 1995's wildly underrated "It's a Man's World." She deserves more credit as a vocalist than she receives; she took "You Haven't Seen the Last of Me" from 2010's flop movie "Burlesque" and made it into an anthem that felt deeply personal. Judging from the audience's response, the tune could emerge as her equivalent of Sinatra's "My Way."
The evening's most emotional moment occurred when she talked about ex-hubby Sonny Bono, who died in 1998. She reminisced about how he loved to be on stage, then sang "I Got You Babe" as a virtual duet as black-and-white footage of Sonny appeared on a giant video screen. For fans of a certain age, the segment could make you reach for a Kleenex.
Looking at the diversity of the crowd, Cher's fans come from all demographics. There were people in their 20s and folks who were clearly older than the star. Seemingly all of them were on their feet for a neon-hued production of the dance-floor filler "Believe," in which she wore a pink wig while her dancers surrounded her and two aerialists hovered above.
If it seemed like the show couldn't top that moment, then came the encore, in which she floated above the crowd on a pedestal that drifted around the arena while she sang "I Hope You Find It." It was essentially Cher's grand-slam moment, which left audience members open-mouthed in wonder. On her last tour, she dared her fellow female singers, "Follow this, bitches!" Really, how can they?
Even without a curve, the night was a solid A+.
"Dressed To Kill"
"The Beat Goes On"
"I Got You Babe"
"Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves"
"Welcome to Burlesque"
"You Haven't Seen the Last Of Me"
"Take It Like a Man"
"Walking In Memphis"
"Just Like Jesse James"
"Heart of Stone"
"The Shoop Shoop Song (It's In His Kiss)"
"Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)"
"I Found Someone"
"If I Could Turn Back Time"
"I Hope You Find It"