The Brisbane Entertainment Centre descends into darkness and within moments a montage of all things Cher plays upon the curtain. It drops to the floor and – lo and behold – our host for the evening is suspended above the stage upon a shiny platform. As thunderous applause and cheering fills the BEC, Cher does not miss a beat or ear shattering note in her opening song ‘Woman’s World.’ As she touches the stage, it’s easy to see why this showbiz great is so well-loved.
Tonight’s concert has exactly what you would expect from a woman of such talent, and even at 72, she sounds flawless. Hitting every note to its spine-shivering fullest, you can see that even the men who may have reluctantly accompanied their partners to this show have now become fans of her work and will certainly be jamming her entire back catalogue in the weeks to follow. Cher roars into ‘All Or Nothing’, the show traversing a stellar career. By the time we’re through to the 3rd costume change, things get intimate with a moving tribute to the late Sonny Bono. While we sit in awe as Cher knocks out ‘The Beat Goes On’ with a video accompaniment by Sonny, it is followed directly by the best duet of all time: ‘I Got You, Babe’. I’m pretty sure there wasn’t a dry eye in the house after that one.
We’re on to the next costume change (and also a fresh set change), and the crowd laps up every bit of the faux circus act by Cher’s talented dancers. With everything from contortionists to strongmen, it’s a perfect way to introduce the song ‘Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves’ and lead straight into ‘Dark Lady’. While the crowd is thoroughly entertained by the dancers, Cher emerges from the darkness in a Native American inspired costume to give the audience ‘Half-Breed’. And this is just the halfway point.
‘Welcome To Burlesque’ sees another set change and of course another costume change (nobody does all this better than Cher, I can assure you of that). A truly stunning aerial duet sees the dancers intertwine and contort around each other suspended from the ceiling as the audience sits in quiet disbelief.
Before we know it, Cher hits the stage once more with flower bell bottoms and platinum blonde hair for a trio of ABBA songs to really get the crowd moving. And move they do. With the crowd singing ‘Waterloo’, ‘SOS’ and ‘Fernando’ at the top of their lungs, the BEC is transformed into a giant dancefloor. Everyone is certainly in the mood to shake their tail feathers. As we approach the end of the night, we’re treated to a video montage of all of Cher’s film career highlights and truly brilliant performance of ‘After All’.
With a quick video showing a taste of where Cher’s love of Elvis stems from (and a video of her performance of ‘Heartbreak Hotel’), we’re treated to her rendition of Marc Cohn’s ‘Walking In Memphis’, to which she performs to a thunderous roar of applause and cheers. The backdrop turns into a fifties diner theme and everyone gets to their feet to groove and sing along to ‘The Shoop Shoop Song’. This has been a phenomenal performance but it was missing just one thing. Cher departs the stage once more, and emerges in the costume that most would know her best for. Cher leads into ‘I Found Someone’ and the whole of the BEC is moving around uncontrollably, seemingly possessed by the music itself. Then finally the big guns are unleashed. As the intro of ‘If I Could Turn Back Time’ blasts from the speakers the crowd reaches their highest level of excitement. It’s truly an awe-inspiring sight to see the whole BEC sing along in unison and this has to be one of the most iconic songs that has graced the walls of this venue. As Cher throws her leather jacket into the crowd, the masses go wild. There’s only one way to close out this show. The party anthem ‘Believe’ begins to play, a signal that Cher has assisted many in kicking off this long weekend in style.
As we all head back to our cars, some joining the ever-growing line for merchandise, there is feverish talk of the show we just saw, with some saying they were coming back tomorrow night to do it all again. I envy every last one of them. Flamboyant, exuberant, full of colour and grandeur, it’s a night that won’t be soon forgotten. Long live the Queen of extravagance.