Queen Cher opened her “Here We Go Again Tour” at the Hertz Arena (formally Germain) in Fort Myers/Estero on Thursday night! The 8,200 capacity arena was completely sold out, not an empty seat in sight! Die-hard Cher fans were in heavy attendance, there were costumes, people in sailor hats – a tribute to her 1989 hit “If I Could Turn Back Time”. There was a larger than life size poster of Cher at the merchandise booth that became a photo op for fans to take a photo with Cher! There was plenty of Cher merch to choose from, from coffee cups to purses, programs, t-shirts and hoodies to be had!
The opening act, although really it is ALMOST a double bill, is Chic featuring Nile Rodgers! Nile is one of the most talented musicians of our generation, having written and produced many of the artists of our time including Bowie, Gaga and Madonna! Rodgers and Company played 45 minutes of non-stop fun, party hits including “Le Freak”, “Get Lucky” and the tune that started it all for Chic at that disco mecca, Studio 54, “Good Times”! Nile and the band also performed a medley of his hits written for other artists including Diana Ross and her 1980 hit “I’m Coming Out” which became an anthem for the LGBTQ community. Nile and Chic are the perfect act to get things ready for Cher! Come early or you will be missing out!
Cher’s opening includes a video montage to her hit “Woman’s World” with her aerial grand entrance via a gilded swing! Lady Gaga, Pink and all the rest got schooled by the best! Cher knows how to enthrall an audience. The entire arena is on their feet! She lands on the stage and continues with “Woman’s World” into “Strong Enough”. She takes a break to tell a couple of amusing stories only the way Cher does, peppered with 4 letter words. She recalls the famous incident when she called David Letterman an expletive in an interview on his show, saying she had not thought of saying it, “it just came out” she said, leaving the audience in stitches as she headed backstage for one of her numerous costume changes.
Cher’s tribute to former husband and partner Sonny is a touching, fun part of the show that she says she continues to do “because people love it, she still likes doing it and Sonny is somewhere loving it”! Images of the young couple run across the screen from their early days to the Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour. It is a great trip down memory lane with “The Beat Goes On” and Cher singing with Sonny’s video image that has couples hugging and everyone singing “I Got You Babe”.
Cher’s most current album is “Dancing Queen”, her first in five years. It covers the music of ABBA. The album follows her role in Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, in theaters last year. She covers several ABBA tunes in the show including “Fernando”. ABBA fans will love this part of the show! One of this writer’s favorites of the night was a cover of Marc Cohn’s hauntingly beautiful “Walking in Memphis” complete with a Beale Street backdrop, Cher does a lovely live performance of this tune, she recorded it in 1995 for her “It’s a Man’s World” record.
There is a bit of a Cirque du Soleil-type performance during one of the costume changes which is a beautiful way to keep the audience engaged in the show while Cher is off-stage. Her array of dancers and the band also keep the pace moving. Be sure to keep your eye out for guitarist Joel Hoekstra who has some solos during “If I Could Turn Back Time”. Hoekstra is an accomplished rock guitarist who has just finished the holiday season tour with Trans-Siberian Orchestra & does double duty as a member of the band “Whitesnake” touring with Coverdale & Company when not working with Cher or on other projects.
The finale of the evening is her massive 1998 hit “Believe”! Everyone is on their feet, watching in amazement at the 72 year-old Cher who seems ageless to us mere mortals. She says this is the final tour and she says she knows we have all heard it before. Maybe this time it’s true, but we would rather not believe it!
Floridians have several chances this week to catch the tour – Saturday in Sunrise at the BB&T Center, Monday in Orlando at the Amway Center and Wednesday in Jacksonville at the Veterans Arena. The tour is running through May with Cher also doing her residency dates in Las Vegas at the Park Theatre. For all Cher info, you can check out her website here!
Photos by Vicky Sullivan / sarasotapost.com