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Gig Review: CHER – SSE Arena Belfast

Review By Frances Winston

Cher – Here We Go Again Tour

Cher played SSE Arena Belfast, Sunday November 3rd

If you look up the phrases living legend or gay icon, chances are there is a picture of Cher beside them. Long before Madonna was writhing around on a stage, or Kylie donned her gold hot pants, Cher was topping the charts and strutting her stuff in increasingly flamboyant outfits. In fact some of her costumes are as famous as she is (there are few people who wouldn’t recognise the bodysuit from the famous, ‘Turn Back Time’ video).

With an enormous catalogue of songs, dating back to the 60s, this show was always going to be something special. It is rare that an artist has such enduring appeal to all age groups, and manages to successfully cross over so many genres. And at 73 years of age, she could put many artists a third of her age to shame with her energy.

If you were in any doubt of her cross-generational appeal, you just had to look out at the audience. Yes, there were many women of a certain age, and gay men ( so far, so cliché) but also lots of couples and younger people. In fact, many 20 somethings were there with what looked like their mothers and grandmothers.

Taking to the stage just after 9.30pm, we were first treated to a video montage of her career highlights, before she emerged on the elaborate stage dressed as a kind of Vegas Viking (yes really) singing Woman’s World. I go to a lot of gigs, and I can honestly say that I have rarely seen a crowd erupt like they did at her entrance. She quickly segued into Strong Enough, before pausing to have a chat with the audience, telling us about the night she turned 40, and sharing anecdotes before asking: “What’s your granny doing tonight?”

From then on, the show was a non-stop whirlwind. There was a touching tribute to Sonny, in which she ‘duetted’ with him on When The Beat Goes on, and I Got You Babe (apparently she hadn’t been sure about adding that iconic song to the set), the prerequisite Abba numbers, given that the tour is named after her successful album of Abba covers, and a look back at her movie career, before she dons the aforementioned bodysuit (did I mention she’s 73!) for I Found Someone, and of course, Turn Back Time.

Obviously, there was only one song she could do for a finale, and after yet another costume change – she managed a remarkable EIGHT in total, full changes from the top of her wig to the tips of her shoes – she almost brought the house down when she returned to sing, Believe. And then just like that, she was gone. But the atmosphere hung in the air, and as they departed the SSE, the audience were still singing the hits, leading to a rather joyous moment on the stairs of the venue, when hundreds of people all spontaneously burst into Believe.

This was as if Vegas had come to Belfast. It was pure showbiz glitz from the off. Cher never missed a beat, and it was very easy to see why she has been a star for over five decades. It may have been a full house, but it felt like she was only performing for you. Her back-catalogue was carefully curated when selecting the songs, and while there are a few that people may be disappointed were omitted (Gypsies Tramps and Thieves for example – although it did pop up briefly in a video montage) overall the song choices were spot-on, with the Sonny duets being particularly poignant.

The stage was absolutely astonishing, and her dancers were fantastic. Of course, being Cher, she also had aerialists (because why not) who performed some absolutely stunning routines. Lavish is an understatement for this extravaganza.

While you would expect nothing less from a performer of her pedigree, it is also worth mentioning that she was completely polished and poised throughout. I don’t think she even broke a sweat, despite the energetic performance.

This was the last date on her European tour, but you would never guess that she had already performed this show several times. She starts the US leg of the tour in a couple of weeks, and American audiences are in for a real treat.

A fabulous show of the kind you only get from seasoned performers, that left the entire audience with a smile on their face and a song in their hearts. When I grow up I want to be Cher!

 

Set List:

1. Woman’s World 2. Strong Enough 3. All or Nothing 4. All I Ever Need Is You / Little Man 5. The Beat Goes On 6. I Got You Babe 7. You Haven’t Seen The Last Of Me 8. Welcome to Burlesque 9. Lie To Me 10. Waterloo (ABBA cover) 11. SOS (ABBA cover) 12. Fernando (ABBA cover) 13. After All 14. Walking in Memphis 15. The Shoop Shoop Song (It’s in His Kiss) 16. Guitar Solo – Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down) 17. I Found Someone 18. If I Could Turn Back Time 19. Believe

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