You are thinking you have seen this somewhere before, a review of Cher’s tour in Florida in The Sarasota Post, and you would be right! Yes, readers, I attended the Fort Myers opening show last Thursday night with ticket and point & shoot camera. I wanted to see the show without having to work through it and am glad I did! The Orlando show was coming on Monday and I would have to work at this show with my trusty Nikon.
The Amway Center in Orlando has a seating capacity of 20,000 and I was told it was 97% sold, where those empty seats were I couldn’t tell. Demographically it was such a mix of people, all I can say is that everybody was there! Nile Rodgers and Chic got the crowd warmed up with Chic hits like “Le Freak” and “Get Lucky”! People were dancing in the aisles! Rodgers donned a silver sequined jacket and white beret with style showing that he is the British GQ Icon he was awarded in 2016! An accomplished musician, producer, writer and guitarist, Nile has worked with everyone in the music business at one time or another. Great dance music and party fun is what Nile and Chic are all about and they deliver!
Anticipation for Cher reached epic levels while the finishing touches were being put on the stage. A video montage plays with various photos and video of Cher over the course of her career, the curtain drops and Cher is perched above the audience on a beautiful swing, singing her 2013 hit “Woman’s World” from her “Closer to the Truth” record. It is one of those “wow” moments, you could literally hear people gasping looking up at her. She lands on the stage to collaborate with her dancers clad in incredible gladiator era costumes! Moving back and forth on the stage to give the fans a chance to take photos, gaze at her amazing costume and adjust to the fact that they are actually seeing the icon in person.
The tribute to Sonny and love of Elvis are glimpses into Cher’s personal life and great sentimental parts of the show. She has the crowd up and in the palm of her hand when she comes out in that famous “Turn Back Time” costume from the 1989 video in which she looks identical 30 years later! Someone throws a sailor hat on stage and Cher immediately kicks it away, which makes for an amusing moment. Well-known guitarist Joel Hoekstra, who also plays with Whitesnake and Trans-Siberian Orchestra, works the stage with several solos. Check out Joel’s interview with The Sarasota Post following this review.
One last costume change and she makes it back to the stage to dance and sing her hit “Believe” to a full house that didn’t leave to beat the traffic. They stayed till the end to savor every minute of the singer, Oscar winning actress, activist and star who has been part of pop culture since the 60’s! She is Cher!
The Sarasota Post interviewed Cher’s guitarist, Joel Hoekstra, about all his gigs that keep him one of the busiest musicians in the business!
SP: Joel, you just finished playing the great Trans-Siberian Orchestra holiday tour! How long have you been doing TSO now?
JH: I have been with TSO since 2010. 9 years now. Time flies.
SP: How much time did you have before starting Cher’s “Here We Go Again” tour?
JH: I had 12 days off. It’s a blessing and a bit of a curse when touring lines up so nicely.
SP: How much rehearsal time have you had for the new tour?
JH: We had 3 days of rehearsal in Fort Myers before the first show.
SP: Are the dancers and band from the Vegas show?
JH: Yes, the dancers are all returning. Some have been in the camp longer than others, but all have done the show.
SP: How different is it doing the road tour versus Cher’s residency in Las Vegas?
JH: Well, basically you put in a bus ride between the shows now. The work load is slightly heavier on this tour than in Vegas. This tour is day on, day off for the entire run. Vegas is 3 shows a week and no travel.
SP: How long have you been working with Cher and how is it working with her?
JH: It’s almost been 2 years now since I filled in. Once again, time flies. I’m really honored to be a part of her band. They are all amazing musicians. Some blessings in the music business you never see coming and this would fall under that category.
SP: The great Nile Rodgers is opening for the tour, have you ever worked with Nile or met him before?
JH: Never worked with him or met him. We are out together for a month, so I didn’t want to rush right into his face on the first couple of days. Haha! I’m hoping to have a chance to say “hi” though.
SP: Since you are working with Whitesnake and they are starting a tour soon, will you leave the Cher tour?
JH: The way things are looking is that I will miss Cher’s mid-April to mid-May run to tour with Whitesnake. Hopefully I can be a part of the Canadian Cher run may 21-29. Beyond that, it’s too soon to tell.
SP: Since you left Night Ranger do you keep in touch with the band?
JH: A bit. I still talk with Brad Gillis the most. I had some of the best times of my life with him, so I think we’ll always be friends.
SP: Do you have any other irons in the fire that we need to know about?
JH: Well, Whitesnake’s new record is out this Spring. I’m excited about that. I’m currently working on a second record from my side project Joel Hoekstra’s 13. I also have a couple of co-writes on MIchael Sweet’s upcoming solo release. I’ll be playing guitar on those as well. I’ve also been doing a bit of writing for/with my friend Eric Martin, who sings for Mr. Big. We’ll see what becomes of those.
SP: Thanks and have a great tour!
JH: Thank you!
Photos courtesy of Vicky Sullivan / sarasotapost.com