Cher is a force of nature. There is no denying that. But her strength comes from her ability to connect with an audience and be herself while still engaging as a cultural phenomenon.
Now while Cher is a distinctly different performer from Bette Midler, who is wrapping up her “The Showgirl Must Go On” in January 2010, at their shared venue The Colosseum, the Oscar winning actress understands the sleek underlying play at hand which motivates more of sultry essence in her perception as compared to Bette’s more chicanerous play.
Filling to capacity in the venue, the show rivets in its perceptions with black visions of stars racing forth as the crowd begins clapping. Starting with a golden visage both entrancing in its Vegas style and ultimately practical in an unlikely way, Cher launches into a cover of U2’s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” with an authorative voice which shows that the strength of her voice isn’t diminishing. While some of these kind of shows maybe use temp tracks, besides the film elements and one duet, it is all Cher. The richness of her voice still sings.
After the opening element, she engages the audience in terms of discussion playing to her strength purveyed over all those years on “The Sonny & Cher Show”. She embraces that part of her life and plays it almost even heavier than her later rock/club anthems that defined some of her career in between her highly touted movie roles in the late 80s.
As Cher makes references to her outfits and initiates a Teamsters joke trying to connect to some of her blue collar base in the crowd, the key spot that solidifies her hold on the audience is when she looks up at the big screen at herself from the back saying that “I look pretty good”.
Besides her voice, the wondrous element of the show is how she changes from outfit to outfit. In whatever perception, the woman looks great for performance. She can still fit in all those costumes that permeated her through the years especially that barely covered piece from her video for “If I Could Turn Back Time” on the deck of a aircraft carrier.
Returning to the music and performance of the show, the first song seques into a zoot suit breakdown as two dancers, male and female, slink through the deep reds. As the amount elevates, Cher emerges in drag as a male dancer, mustache and all. Cher has always been a chameleon of sorts and seeing her adjust simply her body mannerisms within the structure of “She’s All But One” is quite riveting. The angle switches quickly through a black and white vision as the massive LCD screen begins playing different essence of her and Sonny Bono over the years. It wisps in reverie without overcoming the method at hand. The only criticism that can be distinctified on the show is that at times there is too much video, which of course is part of the necessity of the costume changes. It does however, at times, seems too noticeable. That is the paradox of show which is simply a bi-product that is apparent but nontheless necessary.
During the black and white performance of Sonny singing “And The Beat Goes On”, Cher sings back and forth with the vision of her late ex-husband. The reality is that it doesn’t feel self-serving but rather an organic representation of life. The one word that kept resonating despite any of the glamourous changes within the show was how “organic” it was, especially the first half of the show.
As if persuaded by this thought, the next progression of songs, that played like a medley without being rushed, worked within the auspice of a box in the middle of the stage, much like Pandora’s locked domain if you will. Cher’s belting of “Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves” in a high leg cut dress showed her intent to mix up the styles. Another great addition was the fact that many of the different pieces she wore showed up as sketches projected like Tim Burton-esque profiles on the walls on either side of the stage.
The next progression from the highlight requires a set change and the dark sexual permutation of a girl in gold hot pants rivets the stage. This bit of chicanery before Cher emerges on a catwalk above in green cradled in front of a dancer whose hands are wrapped around her give the show a wonderful boost. Granted the mood is supposed to be 70s as a bridge number plays but by the beginning gyration and smoothness of these two dancers, once again heightened by the organic nature of the dance, makes it inherently very contemporary.
The Vegas ode as made prevalent in all three previous Colosseum production shows (Celine, Elton and Bette) is taken one step further here with Cher’s interpretation of “Walking In Memphis” which is a stylistic departure more indicative of say Bonnie Raitt. It is refreshing also considering new film footage of Cher playing a Elvis type young man making his way on buses and the like towards the Tennessee town. She plays it so effortless that you wonder why she doesn’t do more movies in the current market since her talent and effort obviously has not waned.
The final two numbers, racheted more in the music video era, are more recreations from the time period than new productions. These, of course, are the songs that the younger generation knows in the veil of “If I Could Turn Back Time” and her curtain closing club hit “Believe” which was the first major hit to take advantage of the 808 which many of the rappers including Lil’ Wayne and Kanye use prevalently.
But what one notices especially in the closing coda of “Believe” as Cher belts it and dances freely across the stage is how comfortable she is in her own skin. She, like Meryl Streep, is an anomaly to the code. With Cher jumping back to the big screen in the upcoming musical “Burlesque”, due to co-star Christina Aguilera, the future continues to swell with possibility.
The realization though is that it is wonderful to see this woman, who has been notoriously private over the years, sharing a show like this at Caesars where one can truly see the power of this woman’s persona and even more importantly, her unending voice.