'I'm 73...what's your granny doing tonight?' With those defiant words, Cher's back on a UK stage for one last hurrah (and a dozen dazzling costume changes). JAN MOIR watched the megastar turn back time - and was utterly moonstruck

She has been a star for six decades and was a feminist before feminists had been invented. Men aren’t necessities, she once said, they are luxuries

She has been a star for six decades and was a feminist before feminists had been invented. Men aren’t necessities, she once said, they are luxuries

There she is, glimpsed through a gloaming of strobe lights and a muscled writhing of hunky dancers. 

There she stands, under a kilo of acrylic hair with that knowing, Mona Lisa smile on her face.

There she goes, dancing across the stage in fishnets as her Here We Go Again tour finally lands in London. Yes, Cher is back in town. Cher. Cher! In darling person. 

In the marvellous here and now. On yet another of her farewell tours that promise to be the last ever, but somehow never are and thank goodness for that.

We have been here before and one can only hope we will be here again, to witness the Planet’s sassiest septuagenarian climb into the cobwebbed body stockings and pipistrelle bat-sized bras she first wore more than 20 years ago — and still looks wonderful in today.

For to gaze upon Cher singing Turn Back Time in little more than a spangled leotard and a leather jacket will never stop being an awe inspiring sight, even more so as the decades fall like dominoes around her. 

It is to actually believe, even for a frangible, serum-pumped airbrushed second, that maybe time can be turned back. Can it? Can it?

‘I’m 73 years old. What is your grandma doing tonight?’ Cher asked the 20,000 capacity crowd at the O2 early in the evening. 

Cher looks slim hipped and ageless in a purple velvet catsuit and blonde wig
Cher is pictured above performing in Zurich

Cher looks slim hipped and ageless in a purple velvet catsuit and blonde wig; incredible in faded denim and a red wig; sensational in her costume from the film Burlesque; and is also pictured performing in Zurich, right

Her message was that this particular granny had a lot more on her agenda than a milky drink and an early night.

That included myriad costume changes, a burlesque interlude, an Abba tribute, an absolute Muppet show of marvellous wigs and even a number in which she wore harem pants and climbed atop a life-sized mechanical elephant to sing a devotional chant called the Gayatri Mantra.

Suffice to say this was a rock show devoid of irony or restraint, and all the better for it. 

Many years ago, Cher remarked that being ridiculous was a dirty job but ‘if someone has to do it, it might as well be me’. 

She also believes that ‘until you are ready to look foolish, you will never have the possibility of being great’.

We have been here before and one can only hope we will be here again, to witness the Planet’s sassiest septuagenarian climb into the cobwebbed body stockings and pipistrelle bat-sized bras she first wore more than 20 years ago — and still looks wonderful in today

We have been here before and one can only hope we will be here again, to witness the Planet’s sassiest septuagenarian climb into the cobwebbed body stockings and pipistrelle bat-sized bras she first wore more than 20 years ago — and still looks wonderful in today

Perhaps that is one reason why she is a Halloween costume made flesh, a hallucination, a mirage, a miracle. How does she do it? 

In a long and sometimes rambling monologue near the beginning of the show, she preached Cher speak to her Cher fans from the Bible of Cher. 

Younger women listen up! ‘You have to do everything you want to do, you can’t take no for an answer.’

Older women change your ways! ‘Get a new life — do something fabulous,’ she implored us.

Whatever, we were not going to get far in this concert without outspoken Cher airing some of her political views. Nothing unexpected there. 

The diva called President Donald Trump an ‘a******’ before opining that: ‘Boris isn’t much better.’

Maybe he is and maybe he isn’t, but how can Cher possibly know? I doubt even she sits down to devour the latest Brexit news at breakfast, while elves iron her thighs and a liveried butler pours her a great big cup of suck-it-up from the fountain of eternal youth.

But to love Cher is to forgive her for everything, even that power ballad about Jesse James back in the Eighties.

In a long and sometimes rambling monologue near the beginning of the show, she preached Cher speak to her Cher fans from the Bible of Cher
She said to her fans: 'Younger women listen up! ‘You have to do everything you want to do, you can’t take no for an answer'

In a long and sometimes rambling monologue near the beginning of the show, she preached Cher speak to her Cher fans from the Bible of Cher. Younger women listen up! ‘You have to do everything you want to do, you can’t take no for an answer'

Never mind the political chat and the spangles, the most amazing thing about the evening is that Cher’s voice still sounds tremendous; bold and strong, smoked with her trademark husky vibrato, still capable of conveying passion and vulnerability with every throbbing note.

Perhaps one of the reasons for her diamond-studded longevity and right honourable diva status is that she has always been so inspiring; her songs speak of good triumphing over bad, of self-belief and the power of personal aspiration. 

(‘What am I supposed to do? Sit around and wait for you? Well I can’t do that,’ as she sings in her big hit Believe.)

She has been a star for six decades and was a feminist before feminists had been invented. 

Men aren’t necessities, she once said, they are luxuries. They should be like Kleenex, soft strong and disposable.

I met her once, on a winter morning almost 20 years ago, where she sipped hotel tea in her thermal vest and sheepskin boots, and complained lightly about the English weather.

Two years earlier she had told the world that turning 50 ‘sucked’, but that she was determined to live her life with a flourish until the very last gasp.

‘Everyone says that I am terrified of getting old,’ she said back then, ‘but the truth is that in my job, becoming old and becoming extinct are one and the same thing. And becoming obsolete and useless is completely unattractive to me.’

She was funny and kind, not at all what I expected (‘I am actually very boring’). And ask yourself this? Has anyone fought the ravages of time with more spirit and energy than she?

The former Cherilyn Sarkisian La Piere has admitted to nose, breast and teeth operations. She had her first piece of reconstructive surgery after seeing herself on film for the very first time in 1967.

‘I looked at myself up there on that screen and thought, s***, I’m all nose.’ She has always been the first to poke fun at herself, and has never lost her sense of humour. 

She was born in California, the daughter of a part Cherokee mother and Armenian father — a gambler and a drug addict who left home shortly before Cher was born. 

Perhaps one of the reasons for her diamond-studded longevity and right honourable diva status is that she has always been so inspiring
Her songs speak of good triumphing over bad, of self-belief and the power of personal aspiration

Perhaps one of the reasons for her diamond-studded longevity and right honourable diva status is that she has always been so inspiring; her songs speak of good triumphing over bad, of self-belief and the power of personal aspiration

By the time she had reached her teens her mother had married a bank vice-president and the family enjoyed a middle-class way of life in Encino.

Yet that wasn’t easy. Cher grew up amid a flock of blonde, blue-eyed Californian girls — her half-sisters, her classmates — and always felt like a cuckoo in the nest. 

She always had that sense of apartness. When she went to Armenia for the first time in the Eighties she was shocked. ‘Everyone looked like me,’ she said.

Sonny Bono was her first salvation, she married him when she was 16. They had musical aspirations together and they went on to epitomise a kind of Californian cool throughout the Sixties.

They divorced in 1975 and Cher spent years baiting him when he became a Republican congressman. 

Yet when he died in a skiing accident in 1998, she was bereft. ‘I always cared about him,’ she said.

During the concert, she wears a bobbed wig and bellbottoms to sing their greatest hit, I’ve Got You, Babe.

Her voice is real, a plangent soar through that lovely chorus, but his is a recording from beyond the grave, beaming through the auditorium as his image hovers over the stage. It could — and perhaps should — have been mawkish, but it is oddly moving instead.

The costume changes come thick and fast. I counted 12 in the 90-minute set, but the sequins, feathers, wigs and glitz became a confusing blizzard of utter fabuloso.

Cher looks slim hipped and ageless in a purple velvet catsuit and blonde wig; incredible in faded denim and a red wig; sensational in her costume from the film Burlesque. 

There is a medley of tracks from her recent Abba covers album and a nod to her successes on stage and on film.

‘I’ve never really been accepted by singers as a singer, and actors don’t think of me as an actor,’ she said. ‘I actually succeeded at everything I ever tried, and yet I’m not part of any of the groups.’

A 60-year career, a testament to the staying power of an amazing voice, a sense of humour and a great pair of legs.

Cher may be many things, but she is distinctly not extinct.

Her voice is real, a plangent soar through that lovely chorus, but his is a recording from beyond the grave, beaming through the auditorium as his image hovers over the stage

Her voice is real, a plangent soar through that lovely chorus, but his is a recording from beyond the grave, beaming through the auditorium as his image hovers over the stage

JAN MOIR watched Cher turn back time - and was utterly moonstruck

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