The pop world has changed, but Cher remains the same


Cher doesn’t change, so what does?

The eternal pop star’s “Dressed to Kill” tour doesn’t sound radically different from the headliner show that parked at Caesars Palace from 2008 to 2011. Reviews from the road cite gymnasts, Vegas-y production numbers, the same “Half Breed” headdress and the same Cher ass (which turned 68 on Tuesday) in chaps.

It sounds like she even does some of the same covers, including Marc Cohn’s “Walking in Memphis.”

And the show visiting the MGM Grand Garden on Sunday is likely to come with the claims that it’s a farewell tour, even if Cher is more insistent about it, telling Atlanta, “I’m not kidding. This is my farewell farewell, my honest-to-goodness-I’m-never-coming-back-I-swear-to-God tour.”

But if Cher is ageless and eternal, not much else is. Let’s look at what was going on in pop music — and the world — during key Las Vegas milestones of her career.

■ Sonny &Cher, Flamingo, July 1969. Well, she may have looked just a wee bit younger when Sonny &Cher worked as Pat Boone’s Flamingo opening act. This was, after all, three weeks before Apollo 11 landed on the moon. We were also grooving to Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” that summer, and Las Vegas mainstay Roy Clark had his single chart hit, “Yesterday, When I Was Young” (Unlike Cher, he aged).

■ Sonny &Cher, Sahara, October 1973. Where better than the Sahara for Sonny &Cher to do their version of the Louis Prima and Keely Smith domestic banter that originated at the same hotel?

The couple did well by the Sahara during their peak TV years; they even recorded a live album there. By October, however, the two were headed for Splitsville. The banter turned ugly onstage and cut this engagement short by four nights.

The shows they did finish were at least a distraction from televised Watergate hearings and Spiro Agnew’s resignation as vice president. Cher’s future Colosseum roommate Elton John was on the charts with “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.”

■ Caesars Palace, June-July 1979. The solo Cher we now love charted with “Take Me Home” that spring, and first played Caesars Palace, her home for the next four years, on this July 4 weekend. Las Vegans beat the heat watching “Alien” at the Parkway theater while waiting for the fireworks.

■ The Mirage, June 1990. “This is going to be a very strange show for a lot of you,” Cher told high rollers in Siegfried &Roy’s new showroom on the same week The Excalibur opened.

Cher’s acting career had kept her away from Las Vegas until this concert tour stop, featuring new hits such as “I Found Someone,” was filmed for video release. Whatever became of the opening act, Jerry Seinfeld?

■ MGM Grand Garden, August 1999. Another performance captured on film (originally for HBO) had Cher threatening retirement and taking Cyndi Lauper on the road as opening act. The more things change…

Sadly though, Donna Summer won’t be playing Caesars Palace this time, as she was that weekend. But you can still ride to the top of the Las Vegas Eiffel Tower, which opened with Paris Las Vegas that week.

■ Colosseum at Caesars Palace, May 2008. “Las Vegas and I are a very good fit,” Cher said at the launch of a Las Vegas residency. “Las Vegas is way over the top, and the show that I do is way over the top.”

By then, Alicia Keys was the visiting arena draw over at the MGM Grand Garden and Terry Fator had inked a deal to replace Danny Gans at The Mirage.

By early 2011 though, Cher was telling reporters she missed the enthusiasm of arena crowds, which she probably won’t complain about this weekend.

Contact reporter Mike Weatherford at mweatherford@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0288.

 

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