Before there was Madonna, Britney, Xtina and even Beyonce, there was Cher.
The 68-year-old singer strutted her stuff, changed into countless outfits and wigs and sang her heart out to a very appreciative and adoring crowd Saturday night.
Cher brought her D2K tour to Ontario and rocked the Citizens Business Bank Arena with a medley of her greatest hits and then some. D2K is shorthand for “Dressed To Kill,’’ but her performance showed it probably should be changed to “Dressed For Success.” The concert/Las Vegas-style over-the-top display of flashing neon lights, pulsating beats, multiple scene changes and superb dancers and acrobats could have overshadowed a lesser talent. It didn’t. It’s Cher, after all, and what would a performance by her be without glitz and glam?
And if you still don’t get it, well, snap out of it. Her fans did. This is what they have come to expect from the woman whose career has spanned more than four decades.
Tonya Salazar of Upland was celebrating her belated birthday with concert tickets from her sister-in-law. This wasn’t her first Cher experience.
“I saw her first farewell tour years ago and when I saw that the tour was coming to Ontario I talked about it and said I would love to see her again. My sister-in-law surprised me with tickets for my birthday,” Salazar said before the show. “Her show is part concert, part fashion show. … It’s going to be great.”
Special guest was Cyndi Lauper who is another female singer who has proved her staying power.
Lauper entered the ring, actually the arena, dressed like a prizefighter in a hooded robe, which she promptly took off onstage. “How ya doin?’’ Lauper said in her thick Brooklyn accent. She started her 11-song set with the energetic “She Bop.” It got the crowd moving, but apparently not as much as she wanted. “Hello, Ontario,’’ she asked a second time noting the concertgoers seemed a bit serious. “OK, forget it, or this will quickly turn into the Carol Burnett show.”
But it didn’t take long for the audience to get moving. She talked to the audience throughout her set, slowly reeling in those who may have needed a little coaxing. By the end, she had them the audience right where she wanted, especially after she put on an Ontario Reign hockey team jersey (the Arena is its home ice).
The Saturday night show proved that girls just want to have fun and Lauper and then Cher clearly did. Lauper performed her hits, “All Through The Night;’’ “Sex is in the Heel” from the six-time Tony Award winning play “Kinky Boots,’’ which she wrote the music and lyrics for; and the cover of “Money Changes Everything.” But her standards “Time After Time,’’ “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” and “True Colors” brought the audience to its feet and kept them there.
Her salute to the late Etta James by belting out “At Last’’ proved Lauper can sing.
A little less than an hour later, though, Cher arrived in typical Cher fashion — atop a 20-foot tall white pillar dressed like an Egyptian queen complete with sparkling sequins and a headdress with giant peacock feathers.
It made a statement, all right. The queen had arrived. She mentioned how she, a grandmother, was willing to risk her life arriving on stage because it’s all about pleasing the fans.
“And what’s your granny doing tonight?’’ she asked.
She said her first farewell tour was 11 years ago and that this one really was going to be her last, really (wink, wink), no really (as she turned to start the show showing the fingers on her left hand crossed behind her back).
“I used to be diva until I graduated to icon,’’ she said with a chuckle. “I mean, what other 68-year-old woman’s concerts are you going to?’’
No one could argue with that. It was a musical trip down memory lane filled with video, snapshots and clips from The “Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour” in the early 1970s. The Cher musical power train started off with the empowering “Woman’s World” from her latest album “Closer to The Truth,” went on to “Strong Enough” and then “Dressed to Kill.” If there was a theme here it was clear — Cher’s a strong woman and a survivor in an industry known for chewing up artists and spitting them out.
She belted out many of her popular hits, “Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves,” “Welcome to Burlesque,” “I Found Someone” and her more recent, “Believe” with a throbbing disco beat. Even with all the lights and dazzle, she seemed at her best when she slowed things down singing an “I Got You Babe’’ duet with her late former husband Sonny Bono via video footage or when she stood at center stage and quietly sang, “You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me.’’
The crowd roared in agreement.
She left the stage 1 ½ hours later much like she came in — with extravagance soaring on a bejeweled platform high above the audience while singing a loving rendition of “I Hope You Find It.’’
“This is the best thing that’s happened in Ontario for a long time. Cher was phenomenal and at her age? Good for her. And Cyndi Lauper was great. They both give me hope,” said Terry Borden of Ontario.
Those who missed seeing Cher at the Citizens Business Bank Arena have two more shots here in Southern California. Cher’s magical mystery tour stops at Staples Center in Los Angeles on Monday and then heads to Honda Center in Anaheim on Wednesday.
What was said before and after the concert: Making the trip from Bakersfield was worth it. “I’ve seen five of her shows including the “Believe” tour in Las Vegas. This is my sixth and I love her. I’m 53 years old so I remember the old television show and it reminds me of that,” said Raul Cepeda. Cepeda’s seat mate, Manuel Ortiz from San Francisco, said Cher’s genuine nature shows through endearing her to him and other fans. “There is no one like her,’’ he said.
What was overheard during the concert: Several audience members noted that there didn’t seem to be a bad seat in the house, while others said they were pleasantly surprised that the Citizens Business Bank Arena didn’t charge for parking and how easy it was to get into. And a man and woman said they drove in from Orange County saying it was worth seeing the show Saturday night in Ontario rather than the scheduled Wednesday night show in Anaheim.
Nonobjective reviewer comments: I’m old enough to remember watching the Sonny and Cher variety show on television. Each week my parents and I would watch and although we enjoyed the mix of comedy and songs, my mom and I enjoyed seeing what outfit Cher would wear. My mom would have loved seeing D2K. Cher was all show (I mean that as a sincere compliment) back then and the old girl still has it. Beyonce may be one of the reigning divas at the moment, but let’s see if her career lasts 40-plus years.
Source – Daily News