I saw Cher in concert at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on July 7, 2014, one of the last stops of the first leg of her Dressed to Kill Tour with Cyndi Lauper as the opening act. To go to this concert was kind of a spontaneous decision. The day before Andrew and I were looking up availability for an Elton John concert at the Staples Center that I wanted to go to in October for my birthday when we noticed that Cher was going to be performing the next night and that tickets were still available. Since we both liked Cher and neither of us had been to a concert at the Staples Center and the tickets were cheap in the “nosebleed” sections, we decided to check it out.
We both got out of work a little bit early and took the Metro from Koreatown to downtown LA instead of driving in and trying to find parking to make it well before the 7:30 start time. When we got our tickets at Will Call, we were told we had the option to upgrade to a better section with no additional charge. Apparently, the concert didn’t sell out which turned out to be good for us. The crowd skewed a bit older, which I guess shouldn’t have been a surprise, and also gay which was also not surprising.
The concert started when Cyndi Lauper came out with a very “goth” look, with red hair dressed in all black and with boots and some sort of hooded cloak as she sang “She Bop”. I felt like I was taken back to my childhood in the mid 80’s as her mix of pop and punk contained sounds I don’t hear in the music of today. It made me feel old to realize that it has been 30 years since the release of her breakthrough “She’s So Unusual” album. Even her band, including member who have been with her since her start, had gray hair and wrinkles. It’s a little bit funny because I don’t really think of old people rocking out, but as I get older myself I find it less funny. Anyway, Cyndi Lauper, who is 61, had no lack of energy in her performances as she jumped around the stage quite a bit. Her banter was kind of humorous too and she seemed like she would be a fun person to chat with. One thing she said to the audience was “I love you but only in a metaphorical sense because I don’t know you.” She sang her most popular songs like “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” and “True Colors” but my favorite that she performed was a more obscure song that I hadn’t previously heard before called “Witness”.
After a longish intermission, Cher finally came out in an ornate show girl costume and I then understood they needed so long set up for her. Her show was a much more elaborate production with different set designs, video monitors and a crew of dancers. She sang her recent dance hit “Woman’s World” followed up by “Strong Enough” from her “Believe” album. Her voice sounded powerful and at 68 could still pull off wearing a variety of revealing costumes. She was not as agile as the talented dancers surrounding her and it was a bit weird to think of the sexuality that shirtless men young enough to be her grandsons exuded toward her, but the way she commanded herself made her seem timeless. It was so cool when she said something like “So what’s your grandma doing tonight?” She sang some of her hits from the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, 2000’s and today. That longevity I find awe-inspiring. I mean, how many artists can say they have had actual hits in all those decades?
From her Sonny and Cher days, she sang “The Beat Goes On”. It was almost poignant when she sang “I Got You Babe” as a duet with archival footage of Sonny Bono who appeared on a screen behind her as he “sang” his part. After a set and costume change, from the 70’s she sang “Half-breed” and “Dark Lady”. That was followed by another set and costume change when she performed some songs from her “Burlesque” movie, probably my least favorite part of the concert. There was some occasional banter, but nothing that interesting except her complaint that Dr Pepper never thanked her for promoting them as she took a break to drink some. What really got the audience up on their feet was her performance of “If I Could Turn Back Time”. That was followed by my all-time favorite Cher song “Believe” which was the soundtrack of my last months in college and first months on my own. She closed with “I Hope You Find It” one of the songs off her new album while being transported above the audience in some sort of canopy covered with little lights, a fitting end to what was a fun experience.