Cher / Nile Rodgers & Chic Rogers Arena, Vancouver BC, May 30

Cher / Nile Rodgers & Chic Rogers Arena, Vancouver BC, May 30
Photo: Joshua Peter Grafstein
Cher wrapped up the North American leg of her "Here We Go Again" tour in Vancouver last night with a show fuelled by pure nostalgia. That nostalgia extended beyond her own career, which has spanned five-and-a-half decades, as she was touring in support of her ABBA covers album, last year's Dancing Queen.

Funk, soul and disco legends Nile Rodgers & Chic opened with a set that namechecked his many collaborators. Keyboardist Russell Graham did a spot-on David Bowie impression on "Let's Dance." They stitched together shortened versions of Duran Duran's "Notorious" and Madonna's "Like a Virgin" before playing "Material Girl" in full. They gave Daft Punk and Pharrell's "Get Lucky" a brass makeover, and vocal powerhouse Kimberly Davis sang it far better than Pharrell ever could. Nile Rodgers & Chic finished with "Good Times," which he dedicated to the place that made them stars, Studio 54.
Cher started strong with the high-energy "Women's World" and "Strong Enough," but then she halted her own momentum. She spent the next 15 minutes recalling her 40th birthday and meandering into asides that namedropped Jack Nicholson, various characters at Studio 54, and even David Letterman.
Her costume changes were also long — and plentiful. Clips of her film performances and Oscar acceptance speech for Moonstruck filled these gaps. But at least these breaks were functional. And what a feast for the eyes they led to. Cher and her dancers appeared in gladiator outfits and objectionable Indian garb; she even rode out on a fake elephant. She dressed like it was the 1960s for her duet with a video of her late former husband, Sonny Bono. For "If I Could Turn Back Time," she rocked her iconic black leather and mesh look from the song's music video. Most elaborate of all was when the set transformed into a cabaret for "Welcome to Burlesque."
Although Cher was touring in support of an ABBA covers album, she didn't pull from much of the Swedish pop group's repertoire. Of the ten songs on Dancing Queen, she only performed "Waterloo," "S.O.S.," "Fernando" and the title track, although, Cher and company went all out on these songs, rushing the stage in an explosion of colourful, sparkling outfits.
From the soaring pop of "All or Nothing" to the power rock balladry of "If I Could Turn Back Time" to the country pop of "Walking in Memphis," Cher reminded fans of how versatile she can be. But there was only one song that made sense to end with — one song that has eclipsed the rest since 1998. That song was, of course, "Believe." On that highest of notes, Cher sent fans home from a show they'll look back on fondly for decades to come.

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