Review: Cher smokin’ at Caesars

A few years ago, when Cher brought her infamous “Farewell” tour through the Bay Area — a couple of times, actually — one critic wrote that when she opened with a version of U2’s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” she was referring to her wardrobe.

That remains the case with her new show in Caesars Palace’s 4,300-seat Colosseum, where she recently opened a 200-gig, three-year engagement.

As with her touring concert, Cher’s Las Vegas set is packed with phenomenal costume changes; I lost count of her outfits at 12.

She just turned 62, and she still looks amazing in those wacky, sparkly, skimpy designs by Bob Mackie. She’s been wearing them so long, they almost look normal on her. Like Bette Midler and Elton John, with whom she’s sharing the room, Cher remains an ideal act that reflects the over-the-top mentality that characterizes Vegas. She and her troupe of musicians, acrobats, dancers and backup singers have no problem filling the huge theater.

Not only does she sing most of her hits — sadly, some tunes aren’t performed in their entirety — she and her production team make the most of a seemingly extensive video collection.

Clips from her old “Sonny and Cher” TV shows provide an excellent counterpoint to the live onstage shenanigans, including the aerial, Cirque Du Soleil type stunts. (Although she doesn’t ride a life-sized mechanical elephant here like she did on her long-running tour.)

Among the cool, nostalgic video highlights was a lesser-known tune called “It’s the Little Things.” The vintage 1960s material surprisingly plays well now.

Still, Cher hardly relies on old stuff in this performance. Its material nicely spans her four decades in show business, and hits on her formidable acting career, too.

Another video segment showcases her movie work, including snippets from her Oscar turn in “Moonstruck” and her funny cameo playing herself in 2003’s “Stuck on You.” As for her singing, she still sounds good.

Even though she’s never been known for dazzling technical ability, her vocals are strong.

She sounded particularly good on Marc Cohn’s “Walking in Memphis,” a contemporary tune that’s not a dance hit.

She touched on “Half Breed,” “Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves” and “Dark Lady” as well as covered “Love is a Battlefield” and “Don’t Leave Me This Way.”

She thanked the fans in the audience for their arena-rock attention, which got even wilder as the performance drew to a close and things ramped up with “Take Me Home,” “Strong Enough” and, of course, “Believe.”

The huge dance hit topped the Billboard charts in 1999, when Cher was 52, making her the oldest female to achieve that feat.

Although she jokes about her age, her remarkable history plays a part in keeping her performances relevant. She’s a class act — someone who certainly doesn’t need to turn back time.

IF YOU GO

Cher

Where: The Colosseum, Caesars Palace, 3570 Las Vegas Blvd., Las Vegas

When: 7:30 p.m. today, Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday plus May 28, May 31 and June 1; show reopens Aug. 12

Tickets: $95 to $250

Contact: (866) 510-CHER or www.ticketmaster.com

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