Concert Reviews

Cher Proved She Has Nothing to Prove on Thursday Night in Dallas

Cher takes a victory lap.
Cher takes a victory lap. Vera Velma Hernandez
You may ask yourself: What does Cher have left to prove? The answer, of course, is nothing. With an Emmy, an Oscar, a Grammy, a three-year Las Vegas residency, 100 million records sold around the world and an enduring status as an icon for the LGBTQ community to her credit, the woman born Cherilyn Sarkisian has seen and done and succeeded at just about everything she’s ever attempted.

Such titanic achievements — not to mention her extraordinary longevity; she’s been in the public eye since the Kennedy administration — can make performances like Thursday night’s at American Airlines Center feel, unintentionally, like a victory lap.

Yet, once you embrace the “why not?” of it all, Cher offers up a relatively guilt-free good time, with her hummable hits present and accounted for, a dash of elbow-in-your-ribs humor and a liberal dusting of nostalgia.
Indeed, the nominal reason for the Here We Go Again Tour’s existence is supporting 2018’s Dancing Queen, which found Cher covering selections from the candy-coated catalog of ABBA. (Yes, that’s an odd sentence to write, but again, Cher has reached that “do whatever” stage only a fortunate few pop performers ever see.)

Situated in the middle of her roughly 95-minute performance, the trio of ABBA tunes — “Waterloo,” “SOS” and “Fernando” — were dispatched with precision, underscoring what odd but irresistible pop songs those Swedish maestros crafted 40 years ago.
click to enlarge Cher - VERA VELMA HERNANDEZ
Cher
Vera Velma Hernandez

Cher’s turn on the American Airlines Center stage, flanked by a half-dozen musicians and 11 dancers, came more than five years after her last appearance in Dallas. Thursday’s showcase, before a near-capacity arena teeming with vociferous fans from all walks of life (many of whom were dolled up for the occasion, and who don’t flinch at paying upward of $40 for a commemorative T-shirt), was loaded with glittering lights, busy video screens, power ballads, a sweet tribute to the late Sonny Bono, an extended monologue and an abundance of chart-topping hits.


“If you wanna do something that might not be what people want you to do, do it.” — Cher

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This concert was her last scheduled appearance for 2019 — her tour resumes in March — but if she was running on fumes, you’d never know it. It was during that extended monologue when Cher revealed something, at least to me, unknown: “Here’s something you don’t know — when I was a little girl, I lived in Burleson, Texas,” she said to raucous cheers. “I made friends with the one woman in town who owned a TV.”

From there, an electric blue wig atop her head, she proceeded to hold court for several minutes — “I’d like to tell you about the two days it took me to turn 40,” she began — winding up with a statement of empowerment for the “young women” in the room: “Your dream might not be wearing blue hair,” she allowed. “If you wanna do something that might not be what people want you to do, do it.”

Coming just two songs into the performance, the soliloquy blunted the concert’s momentum, but it was to be an evening of stop-start progression.

What, by my count, seemed to be nine costume changes in the span of a little more than 90 minutes, meant Cher was often backstage while video packages played, musicians soloed or dancers contorted themselves acrobatically.

It was all quite polished and pleasant, but the often lengthy interstitial “music videos” gave the impression of having gotten more Cher for your money than you really did. Nevertheless, by the time she hit the home stretch (a run that included bulletproof ’80s staples “I Found Someone” and “If I Could Turn Back Time,” her husky contralto threatening to rip the roof off), it served as another vivid reminder, as if one was needed, that Cher does not need to justify a damn thing — to me, to you or anyone else. 
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Preston Jones is a Dallas-based writer who spent a decade as the pop music critic for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, where the Texas Associated Press Managing Editors honored his work three times, including a 2017 first place award for comment and criticism (Class AAAA). His writing has also appeared in the New York Observer, The Dallas Morning News, the Houston Chronicle, Central Track, Oklahoma Today and Slant Magazine.
Contact: Preston Jones