Cher at Arena Birmingham, UK – 26th October 2019

Posted by Bianca on Saturday Oct 26, 2019 Under Pop, Singer/Songwriter

Review by Adrian Peel with Photography by Andy Watson

Ahead of the very welcome appearance at this impressive venue of one of pop music’s biggest names, the main question on my mind – apart from what songs from the past 50-plus years might feature – was how many costume changes there would be.

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I counted nine in total – a dazzling array of colour, sparkle, style and age-defying skimpiness – but that was only part of the story of this amazing spectacle. The first costume was a little blue number, topped off with a blue wig “how do you like my natural blue hair?” asked the star.

After the opening two tracks, ‘Woman’s World’ and the catchy ‘Strong Enough’, the singer told an (overlong) story concerning events around her 40th birthday (which included her first appearance on David Letterman’s chat show) and also explained why she chooses to be honest about her age (73) – in order to inspire young girls to be whatever they want to be and to encourage older women to try something new, like have blue hair.

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“I don’t know if you’re clapping because I’m still alive, or because I can still fit into my costume”, joked this masterful all-round performer, who, it has to be said, looks absolutely stunning.

She can still sing pretty well too, as evidenced on songs like ‘I Got You Babe’ (with her late ex-husband, Sonny Bono, appearing on the large screen behind – probably the most poignant moment of the evening), the three ABBA classics she threw in – ‘Waterloo’, ‘SOS’ and ‘Fernando’ – and the soulful tribute to the King, ‘Walking in Memphis’, which was preceded by a video of Cher talking about her love for Elvis and singing ‘Heartbreak Hotel’ while dressed as him. The song was followed by one of my favourite Cher numbers: her take on the 60s R&B classic, ‘The Shoop Shoop Song (It’s in His Kiss)’, first made famous by Betty Everett and used in the 1990 film starring Cher and Winona Ryder, Mermaids.

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Other videos included montages of the seasoned entertainer’s Oscar-winning film career and sweetly innocent clips of her with Sonny ‘back in the day’. These videos were shown, of course, partly to give Cher a chance to change into her elaborate costumes and wigs, which also included a purple velvet jumpsuit with blonde wig and blue jeans paired with an orange hairpiece. Energetic and graceful dance/acrobatic routines and a guitar solo from her long-haired ‘axeman’ also filled out the costume-changing moments, before another grand entrance was loudly cheered.

The sets, which vividly created everything from a 1950s American diner to a Burlesque club to an Egyptian castle, were equally breathtaking – as was the skill and professionalism demonstrated by her team of dancers/backing singers, musicians and a Cirque du Soleil-style Russian swing act.

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The songs were all top drawer, with the final two tracks of the night, the exuberant ‘If I Could Turn Back Time’ and the insanely danceable ‘Believe’, stealing the show and leaving the ecstatic audience wanting more.

This was an expertly put together extravaganza – a lesson in how to encapsulate all the familiar qualities of a pop culture icon, providing a feast for the senses in the process – and if this proves to be the last time Cher comes over to these shores, well she certainly went out with a bang.

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See the full photoset from tonight’s gig here.

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