Cher / Paul Young

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Cher / Paul Young - First Direct Arena, Leeds (UK) - 30 October 2019

It's been a long time since Cher played in this country. I know, because I attended the show she did in Sheffield on May 19th 2004. But now she's back, and the question is, will she be as good as she was back then?

Before we found out the answer however, Paul Young played a fourty-five minute set, which included most, if not all, of his heyday hits. We got a bit of recent stuff, but it was obvious from the crowd reaction that they wanted to hear 'Wherever I Lay My Hat.' The one thing that made me chuckle was, now that he has grey hair and a bit of chin fluff, he looks like a cross between Donny Osmond and Rolf Harris. His voice isn't quite as good as it used to be, and he is a mere 63 years old.

I assumed, as Young went off at 8:45, Cher would be hopping up at 9pm, but it was around 9:15 when the audience caught sight of somebody as they moved from the back room onto the stage (I think it was the dancers) and became quite excited. About five minutes later the lights went down and we were go for launch, as the curtain dropped to reveal the legend at rear centre stage, dressed in more sparkle than a glitter fight in a mental health unit (This did happen!) and a large blue wig. We were so high up though, that she even looked small on the screens at either side of the stage. And there was a bundle of cables from the mixing desk to a rack of floodlights above it, which went right down the centre of the stage from our perspective.

The show itself? Well, I was both impressed and puzzled to the same degree really, as Cher seemed to be off stage as much as she was on it, with a few songs started while off-stage, one in particular involving an elephant she rode on-stage where she didn't appear until over three quarters of the way through. Also, there was a section where she told us her life story, and about being initially rejected for a film role at fourty as she was "too old and not sexy enough." That lasted for around ten minutes, and she got one hell of a cheer when she said she was seventy-three, and the culmination was "girls can do anything, and you can wear a blue wig at seventy-three."

I was amused by the punch-line "What is your granny doing tonight?" The impressive bit was that she could still move in time with her dancers, and her voice was still excellent. She did the video duet with Sonny of 'I Got You Babe,' which I think she did last time, but it is still effective, highlighted by the number of phones videoing it. 'Burlesque' saw her in a sparkly leotard and ring-master's jacket before going off and returning in flares to do three Abba numbers. More video, this time of Elvis, before 'Walking In Memphis', the guitarist had a solo spot and proved conclusively that he was a Rock player, until Cher returned, and, hang on, am I seeing right? Yes, she really was wearing the costume for which she will never be forgotten to perform 'I Found Someone' and 'Turn Back Time' which appeared to bring the main set to a close. She was back a couple of minutes later, dressed down (if that's possible) to jeans and t-shirt, for 'Believe', which brought the tour, on these shores at least, to an end.

So that was (probably) it for the very last time in this country, but you never can tell. This is, after all, her third farewell tour (the second one only took place in the US in 2014). She swears it is, but what is there to stop her? Nothing probably. Despite being seventy-three, she can still move, sing, and wear costumes that you really should never see someone of that age wearing. But she does, and it makes you go "wow", and you then feel a bit weird about it because, well, you are looking at a granny, and you wouldn't do that with your own, would you?

Woman's World, Strong Enough, Gayatri Mantra, (Costume change) All Or Nothing, Little Man / All I Ever Need Is You (Video interlude), The Beat Goes On (Sonny & Cher song), I Got You Babe (Sonny & Cher song), You Haven't Seen The Last Of Me (Video interlude), Welcome To Burlesque, Lie To Me (Costume change), (Abba section; Waterloo, SOS, Fernando), After All, Walking In Memphis (Marc Cohn cover), The Shoop Shoop Song (It's In His Kiss) (Betty Everett cover), Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down) (Musical interlude), I Found Someone (Michael Bolton cover) Turn Back Time. Encore:Believe

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