Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Reviews: Cher's First 'Dressed To Kill Tour' Stop In Canada

Cher performing in Canada, 2014
A couple of reviews of Cher's most recent 'Dressed To Kill Tour' show have trickled in over the last few hours .

The latest gig of Cher's 'Dressed To Kill Tour' - show 10 of 49 - was its first in Canada. The 67-year-old mega-star performed an array of fan favourites and smash hits spanning almost 50-years - from her 1965 #1 'I Got You Babe' all the way to 2013's 'I Hope You Find It', which currently sits at #17 on Billboard's Adult Contemporary chart.

Of course, Canadian press caught the 'Closer To The Truth' songstress' captivating concert, which took place at the Air Canada Center. Here are the gig's reviews by The Globe and Mail's Brad Wheeler and Toronto Star's Ben Rayner:

She declared this latest ‘Farewell’ tour her definitive, “Farewell, farewell, farewell, absolutely-no-doubt-about-it, never-gonna-come-back-again” tour onstage at the Air Canada Centre on Monday night, but nobody’s drinking Cher’s “goodbye” Kool-Aid anymore.

The multidisciplinary diva’s first formal departure from the road, 2002’s pointedly titled Living Proof: The Farewell Tour, stretched on for nearly a full three years after its much-ballyhooed commencement, after all, only to be followed by three more years’ worth of “exclusive” casino gigs at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas from 2008 until 2011.

So this current Dressed to Kill road show Cher has been swearing up and down is her final, final, final run around the world’s stages ever probably won’t be the last. As long as she has the motor skills to perform, this woman will be performing. Probably in much less clothing than your average performer of retirement age, too.

Celebrity of the high-falutin’ Cher variety is a hard thing to let go of. And, to her credit, she knows how to swing it. A good third of the action during the 67-year-old singer/actress/persona’s performance at the Air Canada Centre on Monday night — and it was a “performance,” make no mistake — didn’t even require Cher onstage to send tidal waves of elation through the arena. Cheers went up each time a fresh montage of the many, ever-mutating TV, film and video personas she’s adopted over the past 50-odd years as an entertainer went up on the gigantic LED screen at the back of the set to cover another costume change. She even had the gall to run a reel of her acceptance speeches at past Oscar, Emmy and Golden Globe ceremonies at one point. Clearly, Cher is long past the point of “humble brag.”

What’s the point in feigning humility, anyway, when you open your show singing “Woman’s World” whilst being lowered from the rafters, goddess-like, upon a Greco-Roman pillar in a multihued, faux-feathery headdress? The Dressed to Kill production is all about production in the most elaborate sense imaginable: scantily clad centurions (male and female) prancing to and fro for “Strong Enough;” period-appropriate psychedelic geometry swirling everywhere for “The Beat Goes On;” a pop-up circus freak show for “Gypsys, Tramps and Thieves;” cavorting Native Americans to introduce “Half Breed;” an enormous, golden Trojan horse from whence to emerge for “Take It Like a Man;” Sonny Bono making an appearance from beyond the grave to duet with his onetime spouse on “I Got You Babe.” Occasionally, dancers would descend from the ceiling encased in gilded cages and riding atop chandeliers or acrobats would swing through the air just to cement the fact that there was nothing modest at all about this show.

There were many wigs. There were several amusing discussions of Cher’s Dr. Pepper addiction and the soft drink’s failure to exploit it. A variation on the infamous skimpy onesie from the “If I Could Turn Back Time” video made an appearance for, yes, “If I Could Turn Back Time” (“I can still fit into my ‘Turn Back Time’ costume and I’m almost 100,” Cher had observed earlier in the evening) and “Just Like Jesse James.” The place went up like a burning fireworks warehouse for “Believe.”

Ever modest, Cher was moved to comment at one point that “I think this is a pretty good combination of old songs and new songs.” And she was right. She can still hold it down, and no doubt “You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me” will prove prophetic. Again.

“If I come back again, I’ll be my mother,” she said, swearing off the possibility of another farewell jaunt. You’re the one who said it, Cher.


She began the show on a pedestal, but of course. She razzled, she dazzled, she costumed-changed like a pro (which is what she is). She defied gravity, and convention. She was an audacious Helen of Troy one minute; a chatty Cherilyn Sarkisian of El Centro, Calif., the next. She twirled on a chandelier, as one does. She head-dressed. Sequins happened. She believed in life after love. She said that this really was a farewell, and was lovingly booed for the suggestion, though she winked and nodded when she said it. Not unflatteringly, she wore sheer costumes that would frighten women half her age. She sang If I Could Turn Back Time, and basically pulled off that trick.

On a soggy Monday evening, the unsinkable Cher brought her extravagantly staged Dressed to Kill tour to Air Canada Centre, where fans braved rain and some arranged to PVR RuPaul’s Drag Race in order to see her. “My goal is to make you happy,” said the sleek sexagenarian, before worrying aloud about how she could pull that off. Recounting her previous concert shenanigans, she fretted: “What else can I do? I’ve already been a transvestite piñata. I’ve already a rode an elephant.”

What else can she do – a good question, one that the out-doers Madonna and Lady Gaga ask themselves continually. Cher doesn’t make hit records any more, though her latest album (last year’s Closer to the Truth, her first proper album in a dozen years) was crafted to prevalent dance-pop standards by contemporary producers. And so, the beat does go on – literally, when it came to the spectacle-opening Woman’s World, with its thumping four-by-four rhythm and feminist bent that also showed up on the second number Strong Enough, a disco-set single from the late nineties.

But then, the music was just half the attraction. To a serious electronic beat, Cher appeared as mentioned above, on a pillar, where she was garishly presented as a kind of peacock. The colourful waterfall of a headdress lasted just one song, with its removal revealing a wig of dark braids. (Her hair situations had their own dressing room. More were to come.)

Though she was not immobile, Cher did not out-and-out hoof – she told a story about a foot she had broken decades ago that was now causing grief – but she surrounded herself with enough acrobats and prancers to give the illusion that she danced. Her outlandish outfits were their own feats of derring-do, right down to the leather jacket, thigh-high boots and peak-a-booty stockings she wore for her eighties rock-chick hit I Found Someone late in the concert. Her dusky voice? It was reliable and unblemished – almost too good to be true, one might suggest.

Her hair was dead straight for the sixties-tripping The Beat Goes On. For I Got You Babe, her late former husband (and some say Svengali) Sonny Bono appeared on the screen behind and swapped lines with her. This was followed by a compulsory rendering of Gypsys, Tramps and Thieves, followed by Dark Lady and Half-Breed – the “great swarthy trilogy,” in the words of rock critic Robert Christgau. The first two were performed within a turn of the 20th century circus setting, to give you an idea of how seriously Cher takes those dated oldies. For Half-Breed, a floor-length Native American headdress was worn – nothing halfway for the part-Cherokee.

The show’s centrepiece was the upbeat Take It Like a Man, a number which featured a giant gilded horse and a gold-plated and Beyoncé-bewigged diva. A gospel-infused cover of Marc Cohn’s Walking in Memphis was an homage to Elvis and a trip down memory lane.

Though the spectacle used a flurry of archival video from her singer-actress career, the style-switching performer is actually restless and unwilling to dwell in the past.

Unfortunately, after a charismatic and warm main set, the encore ballad I Hope You Find It was a bum-note ending. Cher performed the Miley Cyrus cover dressed as a sort of religious icon, floating above the crowd in a papalish carrier. She had blessed her fans with her presence, but this was far too much symbolism. Perhaps her pedestal status had gone to her headdress.

Cher plays Montreal’s Bell Centre April 25 and Ottawa’s Canadian Tire Centre April 26.

Short share: Cher's I Walk Alone' has débuted at #47 on this week's Billboard Dance Club Songs chart - become her 17th hit on it (see them all here on Cher News' offspring site The Hits of Cher).

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