PORTLAND – The first question that comes to mind after Cher’s concert Wednesday night in Portland: Who’s going to keep Bob Mackie busy now?
The veteran clothing designer’s most prominent model said her goodbyes to a sellout crowd of 6,528 at the Cumberland County Civic Center with a gaudy, fast-paced, 90-minute show. The 128th stop on what’s billed as the diva’s “Living Proof” farewell tour, it was a night many fans will cherish forever.
The evening got off to a very slow beginning. The opening act, comic Dom Irrera, took the stage a half-hour after the concert’s scheduled starting time. Irrera’s hit-or-miss 30-minute set, most of the material of which can’t be printed in a family news-paper, was about as
well received as could be by a crowd expecting Her Royal Cherness.
Then came another half-hour delay, as the crew stripped off the coverings from the elaborate, two-tiered set. Halfway through that period, cameras were turned on the audience, inciting some of its members to dance to a series of disco classics.
Finally, the lights went down, and a series of images from Cher’s career flowed onto three large video screens. Then the diva descended from the rafters atop a chandelier-like platform, singing her version of U2’s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.”
Upon landing, she doffed her fur-trimmed, floor-length silver cape, revealing a black, spangly harem outfit. When that song ended, the lights went down briefly, then Cher returned, in the same outfit minus the pant legs, to sing “Song for the Lonely,” as dancers in furry Himalayan garb swirled around her.
For her one chat with the audience, Cher explained why she’s done touring.
“I’ve been an evil friggin’ diva for 40 friggin’ years,” she said. “There’s all these new girls coming up, like J-Lo.” The largely baby boomer audience booed loudly. “Yeah, I know. Screw ’em.”
Dressed in a red ringleader’s costume, complete with whip, Cher announced, “Ladies and gentlemen, flamboyant gentlemen, boys, girls and children of all ages, welcome to the Cherest show on Earth.”
Nothing succeeds like excess, and Cher has long recognized this. That would explain the mechanical elephant, the acrobats on rings and ropes, the colorfully clad dancers. One hardly noticed the talented musicians backing up Cher.
Cher also knew how to make an entrance. She popped up out of the floor, came down from the ceiling, rode in on an elephant.
Her costumes were one highlight of the evening. All told, the 56-year-old entertainer appeared in 10 different outfits. It was an entire fashion show in one concert. Standouts were the Maori-meets-“Mad Max” costume she wore for “Bang! Bang! [My Baby Shot Me Dead]” and the red, stringy dress and wig she donned for “Take Me Home.”
Fans also got to take a trip down Memory Lane through a series of video montages (to facilitate those costume changes): Cher’s music through the years, Cher’s film career, Cher and her friends, Cher talking candidly.
To close the show, Cher came out in perhaps her most famous outfit, the barely there black bodysuit with thigh-high boots which she made famous in the video for “If I Could Turn Back Time,” the regular-set finale.
She returned, in a red wig and silver pantsuits, for an encore of “Believe.” As she ended the evening, streamers and fake money fell from the ceiling.
Cher left many of the audience, who had grown older with her, wishing they too could turn back time.