There is only one Cher, and you owe it to yourself to see her live.
It is sad to think about how many people walking the planet today do not know the music of Cher. You can claim she is a timeless artist, which she undoubtedly is, but as music has become increasingly easy to create and the industry increasingly overwhelmed by content, even the greatest icons are slipping from the public conscious. Kids today are more likely to know Cher because their parents took them to see Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again than because of her countless classics, Oscar-winning performances, or long-running television variety show.
Sadder still is the thought that many will go to their graves without having witnessed Cher’s talents in person. Even now, in her early seventies, the legendary pop icon is at the top of her game. Her recent performance at Grand Rapids’ Van Andel Arena proved this to be accurate, with seventeen timeless songs that displayed the full breadth of her abilities as an entertainer.
Now, there are countless artists capable of performing their biggest songs in front of enormous crowds gathered to see them. What separates Cher is her ability to make every performance, especially those in venues with ten thousand people or more, feel personal and intimate. Her Here We Go Again tour is a culmination of a life lived in the public eye, but its the moments in between the songs we all know that makes the show feel unique.
“You’re going to applaud when I say this,” Cher informed the audience early on, “but you won’t know why you’re doing it. I don’t know why you do it, either, but it’s going to happen.”
The entire crowd leaned forward, desperate for the next phrase to fall out of her mouth.
“I’m seventy-three now.”
The crowd erupted as planned.
“See,” She told the room, “none of us know why we did that! Thank you, though, really.”
The set was divided by several costume changes that served to reinforce the vision behind various eras in Cher’s storied career. There were the early classic, the Sonny And Cher hits, the ABBA covers, and the songs that will outlive us all (“Turn Back Time” and “Believe,” notably). Each portion included a moment when Cher would share a story from the time when the songs were released. She talked of doubters and industry roadblocks, both of which she’s encountered on numerous occasions, but she spoke of successes as well.
“I was once told I was not attractive enough to lead a movie,” she told the room, “two years later, I won an Oscar.”
The crowd lost it again.
Nestled in the lower bowl of the arena it was easy to feel energized by the liveliness of the crowd. Families and couples alike had come dressed to the nines with every intention of dancing their way through the night. Cher herself did the same, and she had some dancers on stage to accompany her, but the magic of the evening was found in the way the audience fed off the excitement emitting from the scene. People were dancing in the aisles, sharing stories of lives lived, and celebrating the unpredictable nature of this thing we call existence. The world outside may have been chaotic (it was), but in Van Andel Arena things made sense. We are here, and then we are gone. What we do with the time given to us is always our choice, but you would be foolish to do anything other than to live in the moment and absorb it for all it is worth.
Having a familiarity with Cher’s music is a great reason to see her live (obviously), but the Here We Go Again is really a musical event for everyone. It’s a celebration of triumph over hardships and of defying the odds. It’s a night for people to come together, cut loose, and reconnect with the part of themselves that the demands of everyday life often force us to place on a shelf. Cher is here to free us from the chains of woe, no matter what those woes may be, and she’s waiting for you. Don’t miss out.