It’s been 15 years since Cher brought one of her concerts to the UK and Ireland, but Belfast was definitely ready to welcome her back to the city earlier this month as part of the Here We Go Again tour.
Appearing for one night only at Belfast’s SSE Arena, the multiple award-winning singer and actress delighted fans with a selection of hits from her lengthy career, not to mention the elaborate costume changes and talented backing dancers.
Now, I’ll be honest. I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from the show because you have to remember that Cher is now 73 years of age. I didn’t know if she would be singing live or dancing or whatever, but I was left surprised… even if it was one of the strangest concerts I’ve ever attended.
After a really enjoyable opening set from Irish band Spring Break (seriously, check them out!), the show opened proper with a video montage featuring numerous moments from Cher’s career. The woman herself then appeared to perform Woman’s World and this was followed by one of my favourite tracks, Strong Enough.
The crowd were on their feet dancing and singing away at the top of their lungs, and it looked like they had every intention of doing so for the next hour – until the song finished and Cher told us all to take our seats as she was going to tell us a funny story. But here’s where it got a little weird because she started to talk about her 40th birthday and then continued with a 15-minute monologue. I’m still not 100% sure what the entire story was about, but it involved George Miller, the director of Witches of Eastwick, being rude; a $28,000 debt; and Cher clashing with David Letterman live on TV; and finished with the question, “What’s your granny doing tonight?”
The singer then left for a costume change while the Gayatri Mantra played, before she returned a few minutes later – atop a mechanical elephant – to perform All Or Nothing.
At this point, I should say that the concert was divided into four different sections as it paid homage to Cher’s career (and her previous tours). All Or Nothing marked the end of the first segment.
The next act commenced with a video interlude of Cher and her late ex-husband, Sonny Bono, singing a medley of All I Ever Need Is You and Little Man. She then appeared on stage – wearing a vibrant pink flared jumpsuit – to sing The Beat Goes On. This was followed by a duet of I Got You Babe with Sonny which involved some modern technology and a large-screen.
It was time for the third act of the show and a video interlude from 2010s Burlesque (in which Cher starred) splashed across the big screens as she disappeared for another costume change. The clips featured her performing You Haven’t Seen The Last Of Me from the movie, which led to the backing dancers performing a Burlesque-inspired dance routine. They were then joined by Cher as she sang the title track from the film, Welcome To Burlesque.
This was followed by another costume change (I kid you not) and she and her dancers reappeared after a few minutes, donning 70s-inspired costumes. Now, this tour was pegged as being in support of Cher’s 26th studio album (Dancing Queen – her cover versions of songs originally recorded by Abba) and the promo poster for the tour used the same artwork… but the concert didn’t really fit this campaign. I know she has a huge back catalogue she also needed to try and include, but the artwork felt misleading to me when Cher only performed three songs from the album – and they were hidden away in the middle of the set list. The songs were Waterloo, SOS and Fernando, but as a massive ABBA fan, they were fun to hear live and seemed to be a real-crowd pleaser.
Time for a costume change and the final act of the night. Just like the other three, it opened with a video montage of Cher’s acting career before she took to the stage dressed in golden robes (and what looked like a halo), to sing After All.
This was followed by a rendition of Walking In Memphis, which featured a moving streetscape of a Cher-inspired Memphis, and a different outfit. It was then time for one of my all-time favourite songs – The Shoop Shoop Song (It’s In His Kiss).
A guitar solo of Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down) filled the arena as Cher went for another outfit. It was clear the concert was drawing to a close by this stage and the crowd were starting to guess what the final few songs might be. They weren’t disappointed when the singer returned in a black see-through bodysuit to perform I Found Someone and the anthem, If I Could Turn Back Time.
Once the song finished, the stage was plunged into darkness before a 90s-style club mix started and Cher appeared on stage in ripped jeans, a white t-shirt and a red wig to belt out Believe as the encore.
Overall, it was a good and fun night out – with great company – seeing one of music’s best known and most successful artists perform, but I guess it’s true what they say… the higher the star, the higher the price they command, and I can’t help but feel a little short-changed by Cher, given the actual ticket prices. She was due to be on stage at 8.45pm but the concert didn’t start until 9.20pm and it finished at 10.50pm. That’s 90 minutes, but when you look at the setlist, a number of the songs listed are actually only partially-used – and they are included for the video montages. You don’t see Cher on stage performing them.
Then, when you factor in her plethora of costume changes, she was actually away for a lot of the time. Also, after she performed Believe, she didn’t say goodnight or thank the audience for attending. She literally just walked off-stage, the house lights went back up, and some 7,000 people were left very confused.
Would I go and watch her in concert again? Probably not, but it’s always nice to add to the ever-growing list of artists I’ve seen live.
Cher performed at Belfast’s SSE Arena on Sunday 3 November as part of her ‘Here We Go Again’ tour (this concert marked the end of the European leg). The support act for the gig was Spring Break.