Cher. Just. Is. The singer/actress, now 67, has been her own singular brand of spectacle since Sonny & Cher of the '60s. Her long career has embraced, in turn, Phil-Spector-style pop, thumping '70s kitsch, disco, hair-rock, mod burlesque, and Auto-Tuned house music, yet seldom in a manner you've heard elsewhere. Her quirky take on those genres and musical mood-swings was on full-feathered display Monday at Wells Fargo Center - to the delight of a packed house, which was equally delighted by Cher's supporting act, the indestructible Cyndi Lauper.
In Aztec warrior-queen garb, Cher started her set atop a high pedestal, dancers below. Her voice was clean and mighty through the empowerment-focused house sounds of "Woman's World" and "Strong Enough." After joking about outfits of past tours (like "transvestite piñata"-style), Cher and Company popped from the floor during "Dressed to Kill." From there, she shifted to a '60s minidress and bangs for video-screen "duets" with onetime partner/husband Sonny Bono ("I Got You Babe," "The Beat Goes On"), before tackling her grand '70s smashes "Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves," "Dark Lady," and "Half-Breed." That trio of hits sadly got short-shrifted into a medley with more dedication to glitz than music. Actually, much of the show felt as if it was more a series of schmaltzy set-and-costume changes and Cher-chatter, with occasional songs thrown in. Luckily, her voice was delicious, filled with deep, long vowels, even when iced-over by Auto-Tune robotics during the techno-tronic "Believe." Although her take on "You Haven't Seen the Last of Me" was off (she warned us it would be), her voice was at its best in the campy, midtempo rockers "I Found Someone" and "If I Could Turn Back Time." It was a handsome sound much better than the night's garish sights.
As for Lauper, she was pretty great, paying homage to Philadelphia, the town in which she recorded She's So Unusual, her career-igniting CD. She was in strong voice, and even mentioned the Flyers.