72-year-old Cher performed with all the gusto that's made her so famous

Cher showed that her popularity transcends generations.

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Kevin Bull

Cher may not be a big fan of herself, but you don’t get to sustain a career for over 50 years without excelling at what you do. Performing the first of three Melbourne shows on Wednesday night, the diversity of her crowd proved her popularity transcends generations.
It may seem like an odd choice by someone to have a DJ as a support act, but the immense joy expressed through Andrew McClellan’s performance was infectious. Twirling and sashaying across the stage to the likes of Aretha Franklin, Madonna and Kylie Minogue (with a bit of Paul Kelly and The Beatles thrown in for good measure), he ensured the crowd were well and truly in the mood for a mid-week boogie.
After a mass sing-along to ‘YMCA’, footage of Cher through the years was projected onto the stage, soundtracked by ‘Woman’s World’.
Then came the moment everyone had been waiting for: the sudden drop of the curtain. Wearing an elaborate gold headdress and enormous orange wig, Cher’s descension from the heavens was met with deafening cheers. Powerfully launching into ‘Strong Enough’, you would almost be forgiven for thinking she was lip-syncing.
With the crowd in the palm of her hand from the outset, Cher’s likeability was strengthened during an entertaining and insightful 13-minute monologue about looking hot at 40, running up some serious debt and David Letterman acting like an arsehole. Throughout the first half of the two-hour set, she effortlessly moved through ‘All or Nothing’, ‘Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves’, ‘Half-Breed’, ‘Beat Goes On’ and ‘Dark Lady’.
Leaving the stage every couple of songs for a costume change, Cher’s band and back up dancers ensured the audience remained entertained with elaborate choreography, circus tricks and instrumental versions of hits such as ‘Bang Bang’, interspersed with videos of her life.
Returning each time wearing a different wig and intricately detailed, dazzling outfit, it was the dance routines that completed the experience, with one of the most risqué unveiled during ‘Welcome to Burlesque’.
Although it was the song that brought her into the spotlight, Cher said she had considered not performing ‘I Got You Babe’ as she wasn’t sure how it would logistically work. “Then I thought, ‘Oh come on, bitch. You’re almost 500 years old, do the song,’” she said through laughter. Singing directly to a video of her ex-husband and collaborator Sonny Bono, it was one of the more reflective moments of the show.
Hot off the release of her 30th album, Dancing Queen, many were hoping Cher would crack out some ABBA classics. Not one to disappoint, she began with ‘Waterloo’, the audience sing-along continuing throughout her renditions of ‘SOS’ and ‘Fernando’.
Backing it up with ‘After All’, ‘Walking in Memphis’, ‘The Shoop Shoop Song (It’s in His Kiss)’, and ‘I Found Someone’, the most iconic moment of the show came when Cher appeared on stage in a replica of her ‘If I Could Turn Back Time’ outfit. With the crowd on their feet and punching the air, she strutted across the stage, expertly hitting the song’s high notes.
Ending with an energetic performance of ‘Believe’, Cher ensured she left the audience with a night they’ll remember for years to come.
Highlight: Seeing a living legend performing at the top of her game.
Lowlight: While the costumes were all incredible, it seemed a bit excessive when she changed outfits after just one song.
Crowd favourite: ‘Believe’.