To this day, whenever I hear “Dark Lady,” no matter what I am doing or who I am with, I involuntary do the double clap at the proper moment.
Scottrade Center, St. Louis
Two divas, one stage.
Cyndi Lauper and Cher have many things in common. Both are LGBT icons, both have careers spanning decades, and both are on tour promoting their new albums. The only difference is Cher is promoting her 25th studio album, Closer to the Truth, and Lauper is promoting the 30th anniversary of She’s So Unusual.
Making her way to the stage by walking through the audience, Lauper kicked off her set with the classic hit “She Bop.” Draped in a black cloak, she resembled a mystical creature, which is fitting, as I have always considered her talent to be otherworldly. She then performed three more songs from her legendary album, including, “I’ll Kiss You,” “Witness,” and “All Through the Night.”
Cyndi then did what Cyndi does best: She engaged the crowd by telling stories about the origins of the songs. That’s the thing about Lauper: She possesses this amazing ability to connect with her audience on a very personal level. Showcasing the song, “The Sex Is in the Heel” from the musical Kinky Boots, Lauper made sure to remind St. Louis the musical will be making its debut in our city in 2015. She wrapped up her set with outstanding performances of “Money Changes Everything,” “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun,” and a very soulful version of “At Last.”
Often, audience members would yell, “We love you, Cyndi!” She would acknowledge the statement and then say, “But you don’t know me. I could be a rat bastard.” Even if you are, Ms. Lauper, you are our rat bastard and we will always love you. The only critique I had of the entire set—which, I assume, was due to time constraints—was the absence of one song, “True Colors.” Maybe Lauper was utilizing the old Hollywood trick: always leave them wanting more.
Now onto the main event…
Kicking off her set with “Woman’s World,” Cher descended to the stage atop a tall pillar. Seeing her decked out in a jeweled headset with a multitude of feathers, I knew we—as an audience—were in store for out-of-this-world costumes. I mean, this is Cher. What else would you expect? In between songs—to accommodate for elaborate costume changes—short video montages focused on different aspects of Cher’s career entertained the audience.
One set of songs included a very touching homage to Sonny Bono. Going all the way back to “The Beat Goes On” and “I Got You Babe,” it was nice to see Cher show respect for their relationship. Utilizing a circus theme, Cher performed abridged versions of “Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves” and “Dark Lady.” I wish she had delivered the full versions of these classics, as they took me back to my youth. I will never forget the first time I heard “Dark Lady” at Faces in East St. Louis. I was mesmerized at how the whole bar knew when to do a double clap during the chorus. To this day, whenever I hear the song, no matter what I am doing or who I am with, I involuntary do the double clap at the proper moment. That is the power of Cher.
Moving on to the acting portion of her career, Cher performed a duo of songs from the movie Burlesque. While she seemed apologetic for “You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me,” I was quite impressed with her performance. There was an emotional weight that made this one of the highlights of the entire concert. A breathtaking acrobatic routine kicked off the next song, “Take It Like a Man.” I don’t want to oversell this performance, but an enormous Trojan horse, her dancers dressed as very sexy soldiers, and Cher looking heavenly as a blonde made this one a highlight, as well. From one extreme to another, Cher then took things down several notches as she stood center stage all by herself and engaged the crowd with heartfelt versions of “Walking in Memphis” and “Just Like Jessie James.”
I was not expecting what happened next.
After another short video montage, Cher hit the stage with what appeared to be an outfit very similar to the one she wore in the video for “If I Could Turn Back Time.” Yes, that outfit. I apologize if I am being ageist, but the woman is 68 years old.
And she looked fabulous.
So fabulous that the crowd rushed the stage just to snap a photo of her looking fabulous.
As I watched her rocking through “I Found Someone” and “If I Could Turn Back Time,” I was impressed by the high level of energy in both songs. I will say this: The performance of “Believe” felt a bit canned to me, but I did thoroughly enjoy the human disco balls. Wrapping up her set with “I Hope You Find It,” dressed as the deity that she is, Cher managed to connect with the entire audience via a floating pedestal. Seriously, a floating pedestal that went from the stage all around the stadium.
That is also the power of Cher—just when you think she is done, she does something even more outrageous. As she walked off the stage, I was reminded of something Cher had said earlier in the show regarding other singers: “Follow that, bitches!” | Jim Ryan