By Angi Sada
Goodbyes are always difficult. The tears, the “I’ll miss you’s,” the bejeweled g-strings. At least that’s how it’s going for Cher. On her third trip through the Mid-America Center in Council Bluffs, Cher and her guests, the Village People, floated onto stage in a mist of innuendo and disco regalia.
Greeted by 4,000 hooting fans of all ages, the Village People took the stage and performed choreographed renditions of their classics. The crowd oozed with diversity and dripped with energy. Everyone from 65-year-old grannies to five-year-old girls danced and sang out loud without inhibition or shame. Beautiful men in sailor outfits and their female companions drank overpriced cocktails with pinkies up.
The Village People, with three of the original members including my favorite, the Indian, enthralled the crowd. They thrust their pelvises and gyrated in a manner befitting their Greenwich Village roots. Then they left the stage, the arena went black and thousands of people began muttering. They hadn’t played the “Y.M.C.A.” Children cried. Seniors took their glycerin tablets, and I watched it all. Of course, the blackened stage was re-lit. Of course, the Indian was sporting a gigantic Plains Indian headdress. Of course, they came back out.
However, the cowboy and construction worker insisted on a tutorial before beginning the dance classic. The scene, reminiscent of the world’s largest wedding reception, was hysterical. Wide, shaking hips, giggling 20-somethings and bobbing gray heads went through the motions like a group physical therapy session. As the boys literally went through the motions of their claim to fame, there was a sort of anticipation brewing throughout the crowd. The predecessors of the Spice Girls, Backstreet Boys and the likes blew kisses and waved wildly at the end of their set.
Then it was that magical time. Time to go to the bathroom and get more beer. Both lines were horrendous. The venue was not well designed to handle a potty-break of this magnitude.
The other magical time came when the house lights went down and Cher was lowered to the stage on a giant, Liberace-esque chandelier. As her band pounded out the opening lines of U2’s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” she descended like a self-described “drag queen pi�ata.” After finishing up the song, she lost the enormous floor length sequined robe and emerged from under its weight in a tiny, ruby-red g-string and matching pasties.
Chatting up the crowd, she explained the logic behind her three-year farewell tour, now called the “Never Can Say Goodbye Tour 2002-200?” She explained that the tour was continuing so that she wouldn’t have to have a comeback tour on a Liberty Scooter. She also said to the moaning, saddened fans that this was the final leg of the tour.
She also alluded to the new crop of divas, mentioning “Jessica Simpson, Jessica Simpson’s sister …” among others. With a laugh, she said that she felt confident that they would be able to carry the diva torch.
The crowd moaned and she said, “I hate them, too.”
Before changing costumes she looked at her fans and sent a message to Jennifer Lopez, Britney Spears and the Simpson sisters.
“Follow this up, bitches.”
The show had an intense Las Vegas feel with its costume changes and hard-bodied dancers spinning through the air on giant scarves. All of this is not only trademark Vegas, but trademark Cher as well.
She launched into hit after hit and, with amazing dancers behind her, took the audience on a trip down memory lane. Flashing scenes from her teens and from “The Sonny and Cher Show” her timeless face cut back and forth mingled with songs from that era.
She wrapped up the night with show standards, “If I Could Turn Back Time” and “Believe.” The dancers were spinning above the stage in trapeze rings, the band prancing across the stage and back-up singers belting out the chorus over and over. The show ended with Cher taking armfuls of flowers backstage with her and leaving 4,000 happily exhausted fans with smiles.