About 15 years ago, I went to see Cher’s “Living Proof: The Farewell Tour,” which was already nearly a year into its eventual three-year run and was already making its second stop at Gund Arena.
My memory of the evening is a bit hazy, but I recall the show and the star at the center being quite the audio/visual spectacle. There had to be at least a dozen costume changes, a phalanx of dancers, maybe some flaming trapeze folks and I’m pretty sure there was lip-synching involved. But it was highly entertaining and, hey, it was going to be the last opportunity to see Cher perform live onstage!
The now 72-year-old Oscar-winning actress and Grammy-winning singer apparently couldn’t quit us, and will perform Wednesdaynight at Cleveland's Quicken Loans Arena. Since returning to the live stage with her 2008 Las Vegas residency, the woman born Cherilyn Sarkisian has kept performing and acting. She’s outlived both of her ex-husbands/children’s fathers, and more recently co-starred in “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again.”
Though the concept of a jukebox musical, rom-com sequel sounds like a visit to the 10th circle of hell (The Hell of Pop Culture Nightmares!), the star-studded lighthearted film made nearly $400 million worldwide. Obviously, Cher’s a smart cookie, ABBA songs are fun to sing and the world’s appetite for those catchy Swedish pop ditties seemingly knows no limits.
So now we have “Dancing Queen,” Cher’s all ABBA cover album, executive produced by original Abba producers, songwriters and fellow smart cookies Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus.
The album features updated arrangements of familiar hits including “Fernando,” “SOS,” “Mamma Mia” and the title track. If you’re into the spirit of the project — as opposed to lamenting the blatant pandering and exquisite timing of the release — it’s a pretty fun listen.
Cher’s septuagenarian pipes are in fine form and the arrangements have plenty of contemporary dance and pop music touches but aren’t straining too hard to be hip. Of course, the show is another arena-sized spectacle with multiple outfits, including the fishnet catsuit from 1989’s career-boosting “If I Could Turn Back Time” video, out-sized props and dancers. It’ll be an evening of Vegas pomp, circumstance and pageantry in downtown Cleveland.
Opening for Cher will be producer-songwriter and 11-time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominee Nile Rodgers and Chic.
The 2010s have been very good to Rodgers, 66, having survived a bout with prostate cancer, gaining much deserved attention for his work on Daft Punk’s 2013 Grammy-grabbing “Random Access Memories,” and his signature rhythm guitar sound on the Grammy-winning Record of the Year and global hit “Get Lucky.”
Rodgers and Chic also released their 10th album, and first in more than a quarter century, the suitably funky, danceable and guest-filled “Till The World Falls.”
For the Cher tour, the band has been playing expected Chic hits (“Good Times” and “Le Freak"), along with hits produced and written by Rodgers or by the Chic Organization, which was Rodgers and his partner, the late influential bassist/songwriter Bernard Edwards. Be on the lookout for “Get Lucky,” as well as '70s and '80s hits such as Sister Sledge’s “We Are Family,” David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” and Diana Ross’ "I’m Coming Out.”
Dan Wilson, Acid Cats
On Friday night at the High St. Hop House, local jazz guitarist Dan Wilson will present an interesting group that features Wilson, bassist/educator Kip Reed and three vocalists; Jessica Yafanaro, Tommy Lehman and Durrell Legrair. I’ve seen most of these folks with Wilson’s full band (during his excellent Stevie Wonder tribute concert last year), so I’ll go out on a limb and suggest there may be some Stevie in the set list. I’ll also say these are all talented singers and it should be a cool, relaxed evening of groovy arrangements of soul, jazz and probably some pop tunes.
Also, keeping with the soulful and jazzy vibes, popular jazz/funk/soul band the Acid Cats will be at Hoppin’ Frog Brewery (www.hoppinfrog.com; 1680 E. Waterloo Road) on Saturday. The show is free, the band has some new tunes to share and the charcuterie board at Hoppin’ Frog is quite good, so it’ll be worth the trip.
Malcolm X Abram can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 330-996-3758. Like him on Facebook at http://on.fb.me/1lNgxml, and follow him on Twitter @malcolmabramABJ.