Sorry, Morris Day. But Cher is the master of time.
On Saturday night at sold-out Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Cher not only turned back time, she stopped time and lost track of time in a divertingly entertaining but ultimately disappointing show.
The repertoire emphasized dancing queen Cher at the expense of classic Cher. That meant lots of tunes from “Believe” (1998) and beyond, including three selections from her 2018 ABBA tribute album, “Dancing Queen,” and no “Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves,” “Half Breed” or “Dark Lady,” to name a few. “Fernando” would have been enough ABBA, thank you.
When Cher was accompanied by many of her 10 dancers, she was too often obscured by them. Some of them boogied front and center while the star stood down stage. Hello? Who did 15,000 people come to see?
During the 90-minute set, Cher was offstage nearly one-third of the time changing outfits, putting on a new wig and arranging her cleavage. Moreover, she spent 15 minutes of her limited time onstage delivering a rambling monologue.
Not only did she lose her place at one point in the scripted spiel and say she forgot something and then backtracked, but she closed with a line that she’d uttered on her previous tours: “What’s your granny doing tonight?”
Ultimately, the evening felt like Cher doing a Cher drag show in a sports arena.
Her makeup and wigs were extravagant and fabulous. Her nine outfits put the Cher-ness in Cher. Her staging was delectably campy and kitschy (a gladiator look, an Aladdin theme, a “Mamma Mia” motif, a burlesque bit, etc.), but relatively low budget for a star of her magnitude commanding a top ticket of $497.
Fireworks and mirrored balls on video. An animatronic elephant left over from her 2014 tour. The late Sonny Bono’s voice sounding thin and nasally on archival footage like no technician could update it so Sonny could be at the same volume as Cher.
And, yes, like a drag queen, Cher lip-synced. Probably not on all 15 numbers she performed. (I’m not counting the five selections that were either delivered via a vintage Cher video clip or by her band. “Bang Bang” as a guitar solo and a chorus by backup singers, anyone?)
Like any good drag queen, Cher manifested a good sense of humor. She was sarcastic and self-deprecating in her monologue, poking fun at David Letterman, Jack Nicholson and, of course, herself.
If 2002-05 was her self-proclaimed farewell tour (with three visits to Minneapolis in 11 months) and 2014’s Dressed To Kill Tour was her victory lap, then Saturday’s Here We Go Again Tour felt like a never-ending encore.
She turned back time, showing video clips from “The Sonny & Cher Show” and her hit movies (including her Oscar acceptance speech). She invested herself in oldies, showing palpable joy during her “I Got You Babe” and “The Beat Goes On” duets with Sonny and belting “I Found Someone” and “If I Could Turn Back Time” with braying enthusiasm.
She stopped time, by looking strikingly the same — in her curly black wig, black leather jacket and revealing leotard — as she did in the indelible “If I Could Turn Back Time” video 30 years ago. The ageless one turns 73 on Monday.
Now if she just would have spent more time onstage entertaining. We came to see her, not to watch TV and video clips that are available at home.
In keeping with her dancing-queen theme, Cher tapped Nile Rodgers & Chic to open her show. In a ego-driven display, Rodgers showcased dance-happy hits he’d produced or written for others, including Diana Ross’ “I’m Coming Out,” David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” and Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky,” and praised Studio 54 as the only dance club that mattered. He and his band also delivered Chic’s three disco favorites, including “Good Times,” demonstrating that his guitar-driven triumphs find one groove and stay there to dancers’ delight.