Cher at Toyota Center, 3/24/2014

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Cher, Pat Benatar & Neil Geraldo Toyota Center March 24, 2014

"All right, well, this is the beginning of the magical mystery circus..."

Monday night, Cher took the stage at Toyota Center on her second stop on the "Dressed to Kill" final farewell tour. It really will be a shame if this is her goodbye to the stage, because at age 67, she absolutely kicked the shit out of it.

But first up, the inimitable Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo, who freakin' opened for Cher.

Yes, I know what you're thinking. The fact that those two musicians were opening for anyone is ludicrous to me too, considering they could easily pull off their own massive stadium tour, but the only thing I can say is that it's Cher, and she does what she wants. Lucky for us.

There's nothing quite as awesome as watching Benatar and Giraldo onstage together. It's been 35 years since they first took the stage, and not much has changed. Benatar's vocals are still every bit as velvety and throaty as ever. She's insane. And Giraldo is a flirt, both musically and otherwise, teasing the audience with a grin and bits and pieces of songs like Rick Springfield's "Jesse's Girl." They stuck with Benatar's hits, though, and thank God they did. That's where they both belong.

They're a power couple, no question. Giraldo is insane, ripping not only that guitar but the piano to shreds, and at points both the piano and guitar. And Benatar is the quintessential rocker, with every ounce of stage presence one would want in a rock star. At one point, the entire stadium, already full for this opening act, was singing along to "Love Is a Battlefield."

It was so awesome to see; my only complaint was that their set was way too short. But in reality, I could have watched those two lovebirds play all night. They really are something special.

And then came Cher.

In a flurry of costumes and wig changes, Cher took the stage and the entire show changed. We jumped from some serious rock music to a showcase of Cher's styles through the years. It was a crazy transition, but somehow -- probably because it was Cher -- it happened seamlessly.

The opening song was announced via a glittering, high-to-the-heavens pedestal, from which Cher sang the opening of "Strong Enough." In theory it seems campy and silly for someone to arrive on a giant pedestal amid golden backup dancers, but honestly, it worked. Everything worked.

Cher's stage antics were amazing from the moment she arrived, as one would expect from such a seasoned performer, but her self-deprecating humor was an unexpected (and most welcome) arrival. She joked about her lack of an ass while poking fun at Kim Kardashian's, and basically spent about ten minutes endearing herself to the already adoring audience. Cher had them in the palm of her hand from the get-go, but she still managed to make herself just a little bit more accessible. It was way cute.

Review continues on the next page.

That was the theme for the entire show. Everything was over the top, from the umpteen costume and wig swap-outs to Cher's fantastic costumes and rockin' body. Man, it's hard to believe that the woman is 67 years old now. She's got the body of a 20-year-old, and the sense of humor to match.

The set list scattered her many hits over the years, stretching all the way back to the Sonny and Cher days. She hit about every era, with "If I Could Turn Back Time" being the obvious standout. Her massive '90s dance hit, "Believe," was a close second, with neon backup dancers and a semi-gyrating Cher -- she doesn't really dance as much as she struts -- but you really can't top her '80s era.

Sonny even joined her onstage via a projector screen during "I Got You Babe." It was the only time Cher really toned it back, introducing the number with a bit of ambivalence and saying she knows Sonny would have loved it. It sounds tacky on paper, but honestly wasn't. She did him proud with a sweet rendition of the song, true to the original, in which she sang back to his lyrics.

She did everyone proud though, really. Cher is an icon for a reason, and if this really is her "final farewell-farewell" tour, that's a shame. Judging from Monday night, she's got about 67 more years left in her, and only gets better with time.

Personal Bias: Honestly, I figured I'd be way more into Pat Benatar's set. I was pleasantly surprised by Cher. Go figure.

The Crowd: Evenly split by the older, more nostalgic generation and men looking up to Cher as their icon. She brings in such a diverse and friendly crowd, put perhaps that's because she truly is fab.

Overheard In the Crowd: "Ooh girl. This has to be at least the seventh wig change now!" (It had to be, but I'd lost count as well at that point.)

Random Notebook Dump: Sorry, Bey, but you've got nothing on this one. We'll give you about 35 more years, and then we'll talk. Cher knows how to do this diva thing right.


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