During one of several video montages that ran during Cher’s Here We Go Again tour stop at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, a pre-recorded voiceover from the 73-year-old pop legend played over clips from her famous filmography. “I’ve never really been accepted by singers as a singer, and actors don’t think of me as an actor,” she says bluntly. “I actually succeeded at everything I ever tried, and yet I’m not part of any of the groups.”
In her nearly 60-year career, Cher has proven that you don’t need to belong or be accepted by either group when you can just create the genre of “Cher.” That genre is marked by her distinct voice, self-deprecating sense of humor and, above all else, her unparalleled performance abilities. On her latest tour, which follows the release of her ABBA tribute album Dancing Queen, Cher continues to prove that she can wipe the floor with any pop star from any generation before or after her.
Following Chic’s opening set, disco hits rang through the arena. The audience was filled with Cher lookalikes and those embracing their inner showgirl extravagance: sequins, fur, rainbows and glitter were so prevalent that they could’ve doubled as a very wacky camouflage.
Cher appeared promptly, descending from a gold lift onto the stage for “Woman’s World,” the lead single off her 2013 LP Closer to the Truth. The clubby, empowering anthem was accompanied by an elaborate, Romanesque stage design where the orange wig-donning Cher is the emperor and her dancers were jubilant gladiators. After “Strong Enough,” another amped up self-esteem boost, the star took to the stage alone, referring to her maybe-falling golden headpiece as “this bitch” and taking sips from the Dr. Pepper in her giant tumbler. What ensued was something no person can properly prepare: a 15-minute monologue that was somehow about tax evasion, her 40th birthday party, swapping insults with David Letterman and the difference between jail and prison. It was rambling and a little off-the-rails in the best and maybe only way to give a brief snapshot of a life like hers.
The show kicked back into gear with Cher backstage doing another costume change as the scene jumped from Rome to India. She appeared atop a mechanical elephant for “Gayatri Mantra,” a bit she’s been doing since the early 2000s and was swiftly followed by “All or Nothing.” She left again as a video montage dedicated to her romance and career with the late Sonny Bono played. When she returned, it was suddenly the Sixties: the Sonny and Cher logo appeared across the stage and Cher looked like she was back performing on Top of the Pops. For “I Got You Babe,” she didn’t belt the duet alone: she was joined on stage by a giant video screen with Sonny’s face appearing to sing his lines in tandem with his former wife, a perfect tribute to their intertwined lives.
The middle portion of the show celebrated Cher’s storied film career: she performed a song from 2010’s Burlesque wearing the same outfit she sported on-screen and then finally got into the ABBA covers from both her cameo in the film Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again as well as her new LP Dancing Queen. Waiting until halfway through the set to perform songs from your new album is something only Cher could execute properly. In a platinum blonde wig, she delivered a trio of ABBA classics back-to-back: “Waterloo,” “SOS” and “Fernando.” The film celebration ended with one more montage — the aforementioned collection of her most famous movie scenes — and a glamorously solemn rendition of the Oscar-nominated Peter Cetera duet “After All.”
The reverent spirit lingered after the ballad as she celebrated her mom, specifically her mom’s music taste. Another video package focused on her mom’s love for playing music like Hank Williams and Elvis Presley around the house, leading into a speech-via-voiceover about Elvis’ impact on her taste and career, complete with footage of Cher dressed as him for VH1 Divas. She performed Marc Cohn’s “Walking in Memphis” — unfortunately, not in Elvis drag — as a video background of a fake Memphis street played in the background. At one point a billboard on the faux street reads: CHELVIS, a good album name for her next collection of non-ABBA songs.
Fifties rock nostalgia transformed into her gaudy rock aesthetic of the Eighties, previewed by an extended guitar solo from one of the musicians in Cher’s band. When she returned, she was wearing a replica of the skintight sheer black bodysuit she wore in the “If I Could Turn Back Time,” which was performed after her excellent cover of Michael Bolton’s “I Found Someone.”
The night ended as every Cher show has for years: with “Believe.” It’s the truest testament to her ability to reimagine what success can mean even with the rest of the world won’t accept you. When it came out over 20 years ago, Cher was thought to be a washed-up legend. But with some studio tricks still up her sleeve, we learned that she’s capable of being the rare megastar to make massive, fresh pop hits four decades in. The extended cut was intoxicating: a rave-like remix previewed the song before she returned to the stage in a whole new wig and bodysuit. A high-energy audience basically floated above their seats during the dance-pop classic, further proof that she is our most indestructible force.
Here We Go Again Set List
“All or Nothing’
Interlude: “Little Man”/”All I Ever Need Is You”
“The Beat Goes On”
“I Got You Babe”
Interlude: “You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me”
“Welcome to Burlesque”
Interlude: “Lie to Me”
“SOS” [ABBA cover]
“Fernando” [ABBA cover]
Interlude: Movie Montage
Interlude: “Heartbreak Hotel” [Elvis Presley cover]
“Walking in Memphis” [Marc Cohn cover]
“The Shoop Shoop Song (It’s in His Kiss) [Betty Everett cover]
Interlude: “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)”
“I Found Someone” [Michael Bolton cover]
“If I Could Turn Back Time”