Consol Energy Center became the palace of Cher Wednesday night, when she made a triumphant return to Pittsburgh after a decade with her Dressed to Kill Tour.
The show was a spectacle for the ages as the superstar made her first of many grand entrances dressed as an Egyptian queen, wearing a bejeweled and feather headdress that spanned four feet across. A sheer harem pantsuit with crystals cleverly covered her body and sparkled as she moved performing the opening number, “Woman’s World.”
Taut dancers in soldier uniforms, danced, fought and tumbled across the stage as they began their evening of performance that reached the heights and acrobatic feats of a Cirque du Soleil show, while over the top sets brought us to Egypt, a burlesque theater, a gypsy show and a hip-hop techno party.
Everyone expects to see spectacle, and there was no shortage of it. Walking through six decades of hits with an Oscar-winning movie career sandwiched in there takes some time, grace and thought. Video presentations allowed for 10-plus breathtaking costume changes where Cher transformed herself from a ’60s pop star in a red sequined mini-dress and feather coat to the ruler of the underworld in a long curly wig and black angel headpiece to the Queen of love as a smoldering blonde in a flesh-colored and crystal-beaded dress complete with a strategically placed heart on her right breast.
Other costumes included an Indian chief featuring a pastel-colored, floor-length feather headpiece, the queen of “Burlesque” (from the film) and the costume of the night — a reincarnation of the biker look from the “If I Could Turn Back Time” video. It was reworked — covering more of her backside as the original was the equivalent of a black stocking with strategically placed fabric strips — to great effect. Cher wears her costumes to tell a story (not the other way around, like other pop stars) and no matter how elaborate or sheer, they are never distasteful and never leave you cringing.
It is hard to believe she is 67, and she apologized for her recent foot surgery that hampered her usual “jumping around and dancing.” Vocally, she was in fine form, hitting every note of her two-hour show that covered old favorites “Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves” and “Half-Breed” alongside new material including “Take it Like a Man” from her new release. Other notables included “Walking in Memphis,” presented with a video montage of her childhood and a story of seeing Elvis live, “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)” and “You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me” which brought the audience together with raised arms singing the anthem.
Cher’s great sense of humor and comic timing has been evident throughout her career and she has no trouble being the butt of a joke. The video montage of clips from “The Sonny and Cher Show” had the happy audience chuckling as their iconic comedy routines showed them routinely cracking up. It was paired with a live/video duet of her and Sonny singing “I’ve Got You Babe.”
The big news of the night might well be her comment that “This is my farewell, farewell tour. I don’t want to be held up here with a stick,” stating she prefers to go out on top.
The encore featured “Believe,” followed by “I Hope You Find It” with Cher on a glittery throne slowly flying from center stage over the audience to the back of the arena where fans got an up close view of a golden goddess.
The show’s opener was a celebration of pure, hard-driving rock as Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo walked on stage with nothing but a backdrop, a bass player and a drummer and promptly went about filling a solid hour of top-notch rock ’n’ roll to the delight of all. Stringing together hit after hit, they hit the road to celebrate 35 years of musical collaboration (32 of those married) and they have never sounded better.
Mr. Giraldo played a semi-hollow body electric for most of the hour-long set and wailed with mean distortion that filled Consol with old-school rugged rock while Benatar’s powerhouse vocals soared high above it all, never missing beat. It was a spectacular set-up for the main event and paired together it was an unforgettable evening and, yes, a “Woman’s World.”
Rosa Colucci can be reached at 412-263-1661 or firstname.lastname@example.org. First Published April 3, 2014 10:37 AM