(photo by Larry Marano)
My first farewell tour ticket stub for Cher dates back to Aug. 30, 2002 in Sunrise, Fla. This was the iconic singer’s Living Proof/Farewell tour. I was 22 at the time and so bummed out that I finally had a job and money to buy tickets to her shows and this would be the last time I’d see her. I was never more glad to be wrong.
I went on to see Cher’s Farewell tour Oct. 25, 2003, Sept. 22, 2004, Dec. 18, 2004 and at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas Aug. 13, 2008. After Vegas, I was really bummed. I thought for sure, that was the last time I’d get to see Cher perform live. Then something miraculous happened. She announced her Dressed To Kill Tour. And yes, she would be returning to BB&T Center in Sunrise. And to sweeten the deal, Cyndi Lauper would be returning to open for her just as she did in years past.
The scene at BB&T Center in Sunrise, Fla., May 17 was a wondrous spectacle of sequins, feathers, wigs and outlandish costumes—and this was just the audience. The man in the seat next to me had ironed on more than 30 photos of Cher to his outfit, which was covered in rhinestones and giant foam letters declaring his love for Cher. I saw men donning custom sailor suits as a tribute to her hit “If I Could Turn Back Time” and women dressed as Cher through the decades along with dozens of men in drag sporting her most famous looks.
Lauper opened the show and performed beloved songs from her She’s So Unusual album, which is now shockingly 30 years old. At 60, Lauper can still belt it out better than pop stars of today. She evoked happy memories of my childhood with a heartfelt, traditional rendition of “Time After Time” and caused me to leap out of my seat with total delight by finally singing “The Goonies ‘R’ Good Enough,” which was the theme song from the ‘80s cult classic The Goonies.
Cher made her way to the stage with a grand entrance, of course, by rising up on a column that lifted her from under the floor. Although this was sadly her first tour Bob Mackie was unable to design the costumes for, her glamorous and fantastical get ups did not disappoint for this show. Cher donned her signature black body stocking and leather jacket for “I Found Someone” and “If I Could Turn Back Time,” as well as her well known Native American and gypsy looks for her classic hits “Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves” and “Dark Lady.” But in true Cher style, there were some fabulous new ensembles such as a fierce blonde battle look she sported when she walked out of a giant Trojan horse and a barely there glittery dress that flaunted the superstar’s flawless figure. Yes, at 68, she demonstrates she found a way to successfully turn back time.
“So what’s your granny doing tonight?” Cher joked with the audience. “I can still get into my Turn Back Time outfit and I’m 100 years old!”
From a whimsical traveling circus from 1898 to Native American dancing, gothic warrior segments and futuristic dance sequences, Cher’s show was every bit the sparkling spectacle one would expect. But one of the most moving portions of the show was her poignant duets with her late ex Sonny Bono. Cher admitted to being too emotional in years past to get through dueting again with Bono, but through the magic of technology and an open heart from Cher, it happened at this show. Cher sang “The Beat Goes On” and “I Got You Babe” while a giant screen of Bono singing along with her played right next to her. This was the single most special moment I have ever witnessed at a Cher show. It’s certainly one I will never forget.
As Cher powered through her greatest hits through the decades along with her newer ballads from the film Burlesque and her kicky dance tracks from her latest album, Closer To The Truth, the remarkable soul, vibrato and power in her voice is stronger than ever.
Cher closed the show by hopping into an apparatus that flew her from the stage to the very back of the arena. She was singing her ballad “I Hope You Find It,” a moving song about finding whatever it is that you’re searching for in life to make you happy. Yes, Cher, with this show, I certainly did.
Contact Joanie Cox-Henry at email@example.com or follow her tweets @joaniecox.