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Cher and Cher Alike

[whitespace] Cher

The famed chanteuse leads a Shoreline audience through a career's worth of hits

By Sarah Quelland

Photos by Dai Sugano

Bold, tenacious and audacious, Cher has never been one to curb her personality to suit the masses. Despite severe public scrutiny, this often controversial celebrity has consistently proven herself as a comedienne, serious actress and pop recording star, and the longevity of her diverse career speaks for itself.

Dazzling an ecstatic audience at Shoreline Amphitheatre last Tuesday (Aug. 17), Cher made a dramatic entrance rising like a mythological queen from the center of her elaborately constructed stage. Known for her outrageous sense of fashion, the legendary performer appeared with flowing red hair cloaked in a Renaissance-inspired costume she later referred to proudly as her "Braveheart meets Bozo the Clown outfit."

She kicked off the night with a compelling rendition of U2's "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For," which seems an appropriate cover choice for the star, still youthful at 53. Early on, she addressed the audience graciously and repeated "thank you" about 20 times before saying, "You guys gotta make me work for it a tiny little bit, you know."

After joking with the audience, she eased her shirt open a tiny bit and casually announced, "This is the official beginning of the Cher show."

Cher

With her sense of humor and radiant smile, Cher dispels any notions that she is an egomaniacal prima donna. Her show is much more than a concert, it's a production, and she shares her stage and her spotlight with her band, background vocalists and a number of highly skilled modern dancers.

During the various costume-changing intervals, extensive video segments ran on screens. "I Got You Babe" played in the background while clips of her work with former husband, the late Sonny Bono, flashed overhead. Later, a retrospective of her music videos and other footage through the decades screened. Coming from some performers, this review of her successful career might seem arrogant, but coming from Cher, one can't help but applaud and appreciate her accomplishments, particularly because she's worked so hard for them.

After showing a montage of key scenes from her illustrious film career, which includes complex roles in Mask, Silkwood, Suspect, Witches of Eastwick and the jewel in the crown, Moonstruck, which earned her an Oscar for Best Actress in 1988, Cher moved into the love theme from 1989's Chances Are, "After All."

Cher

Cher's big-production show was virtually flawless. Extraordinarily visual without being tacky, the costumed dance numbers enhanced a performance that could have stood on its own.

Songs from the early days like "Dark Lady" and "Half-Breed" were mixed with songs from her Vegasian disco queen phase, including "Take Me Home." She performed hits from the '80s including "I Found Someone," "We All Sleep Alone," "Just Like Jesse James" and "If I Could Turn Back Time." Her version of Betty Everett's "The Shoop Shoop Song (It's in His Kiss)" (from the soundtrack of 1990s Mermaids) had people dancing, and as she sang Marc Cohn's "Walking in Memphis," which she introduced by saying it bombed commercially, the audience was fascinated by the video playing overhead, which saw Cher impersonating Elvis.

Cher did songs from her latest album Believe, including "Strong Enough" and the encore title track, the dance number "Believe," during which silver-clad Bungee-acrobats on each side of the stage performed dizzying stunts and spins.

Cher has gracefully reinvented herself through the decades, but unlike some performers who change to fit the times, Cher's metamorphoses seem less calculated and less contrived. There's never the impression that she's not being some very real aspect of herself. Though technically her music may not be terribly challenging, her trove of strong, sexy songs is pleasing. A true entertainer, Cher seemingly effortlessly carried off her show with all the poise and dignity expected from someone who has become such an American icon.

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Web extra to the August 19-25, 1999 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 1999 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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