Queen of the rock chicks

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The Independent Culture

Giant tickets embossed with Cher in soft-focus; flyers which read: "After a great night with Cher at Wembley, keep the good times rolling at cher direct.com..." The shortened version of Cherilyn Sarkasian La Piere's moniker has become a brand-name, and much of her show was a camped-up Vegas pantomime designed to cement her iconic status. By her third or fourth costume-change, I'd decided to put the Marxist dialectic to one side and enjoy myself. Ninety minutes of vacuous bliss ensued.

Giant tickets embossed with Cher in soft-focus; flyers which read: "After a great night with Cher at Wembley, keep the good times rolling at cher direct.com..." The shortened version of Cherilyn Sarkasian La Piere's moniker has become a brand-name, and much of her show was a camped-up Vegas pantomime designed to cement her iconic status. By her third or fourth costume-change, I'd decided to put the Marxist dialectic to one side and enjoy myself. Ninety minutes of vacuous bliss ensued.

The opening number was suitably preposterous. Looking like Xena, Warrior Princess's mum, Cher rose up on a hydraulic platform to the strains of U2's "Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For". The setting and interpretation lent the song new meaning, and the quest in question suddenly seemed more pragmatic than spiritual. What Cher was looking for, one imagined, was a nice red wig or some leggings.

Each costume change was facilitated by dance troupe interludes or film clips. There were choice excerpts from CBS-TV's early Seventies series The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour, and snippets from the films Mask, Moonstruck and The Witches Of Eastwick. The movie clips only served to remind one that, while Cher the actress gained increasing kudos in the Eighties, the same decade saw Cher the musician metamorphose into rock-chick numero uno. The Jon Bon Jovi-penned "We All Sleep Alone" (confusingly performed in a pirate's outfit) wasn't bad, but 1987's "I Found Someone" was as formulaic as Jim Steinman's worst excesses.

Cher conducted proceedings with self-effacing good humour. Apropos the wigs, she said that her hair had "many natural colours", and when she messed up a verse of "Just Like Jesse James", she acknowledged it with a laugh. For 53, she looked great, too, but when she thundered out "If I Could Turn Back Time", the irony of the lyrics struck me afresh. Perhaps this was what her surgeon was whistling when he performed her last nip and tuck.

She closed with her recent number one, "Believe", a song which comes a close second to Kylie's "I Should Be So Lucky" in the annoyingly infectious stakes. As bungee-jumping trapeze artists struggled to boing in sync, Cher sashayed out through some glittery black curtains, and it seemed inevitable that Dale Winton would appear to announce the National Lottery draw. Instead, the house lights came up and hopes of an encore were quashed. I'd been hoping for her 1964 Beatles tribute, "Ringo I Love You".

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