O2 Arena, London Touring until November 3
I went to see Cher once in London and she was terrible – bombastic to the point of boredom. But that was 1999: to borrow a line from Leonard Cohen, Cher was just a kid in her early 50s. Two decades later, she has sharpened up her act no end.
At 73, everything about her is improbable. Her face is flawless, and not in a weird way. Her figure can carry off anything, including virtually nothing. Her voice is a bellow that’s somehow still feminine.
But the real miracle is that she has gone from a mediocre performer to a masterly one.
At 73, everything about Cher is improbable. Her face is flawless, and not in a weird way and her figure can carry off anything, including virtually nothing
‘I don’t even like her music,’ said a man at North Greenwich station. ‘I just love her.’ He spoke for 20,000 others. In half a century, Cher has recorded about six classic songs, three of which are borrowed from Abba.
So she relies heavily on her designers.
The costumes are sparkling enough – ice-blue leotard, pink pantaloons, purple velvet jumpsuit – but the sets are gobsmacking. Every ten minutes another world is deftly conjured up, whether it’s ancient Egypt or the swinging Sixties.
The whole evening is a feast for the iPhones.
Cher wears so many wigs, from blue to blonde and back to black, that they have their own dressing-room. Her one anecdote, about turning 40, is so long-winded that you wonder if she secretly longs to be Ronnie Corbett.
But it’s endearing, because the jokes are on her. Age could easily be the elephant in the room; instead, the only elephant is the one she rides back on stage at the beginning of act two.
It’s not an emotional evening: the only moment that touches the heart is when she sings I Got You Babe, as Cher reunites with Sonny, looming above her on the big screen.
But the rest, even all the filler, is fun. And there’s something inspiring in Cher’s determination to defy the years. By the time she sings If I Could Turn Back Time, she has already done so.
THIS WEEK’S CD RELEASES
By Adam Woods
Jeff Lynne’s ELO From Out Of Nowhere Out Friday
Jeff Lynne and a 13-piece ELO played Wembley in 2017 and have since toured the Western world, the Brummie having been lured out of LA seclusion by the discovery of enormous affection for his Seventies hits. Lynne still has the ability to conjure up that decade at will, his melody-saturated songs eternally nostalgic for Abbey Road, early rock ’n’ roll and the ballads of Roy Orbison
The Rolling Stones Let It Bleed Out Friday
When 1972’s muddy Stones masterpiece Exile On Main Street and 1978’s spirited Some Girls got the reissue treatment, it was with a disc of unreleased material each. Let It Bleed, from 1969, contains some of the Stones’ best moments – Gimme Shelter, You Can’t Always Get What You Want – but this remastered version considers that to be enough. Why not clear out the archives?
Michael Kiwanuka Kiwanuka Out Friday
When Michael Kiwanuka won the BBC’s Sound Of 2012 poll, it was as a troubadour splicing soul and folk. For his third album, producer Danger Mouse fits him with deep fuzz-guitar grooves, Afrobeat drums and gospel choirs and strings. Kiwanuka’s wise, sober songs and resonant voice make him a compelling focal point on a powerful soul record
Stereophonics Kind Out now
If you are the kind of old-school music-lover who considers an album without guitars and raspy vocals an aberration, play-it-safe Welsh heroes Stereophonics will always be there for you. But on Kind they break their dependence on sleek, gloomy rockers for a dive into thoughtful acoustic stuff with hints of the folkier side of early Rod Stewart and the Faces. Without going overboard, it suits them pretty well