So long . . . so long

Courier Mail (Queensland, Australia)
February 26, 2005 Saturday

So long . . . so long

by Nui Te Koha

Cher has turned saying goodbye into a three-year tour, writes Nui Te

FOR Cher, the 299th show of her farewell tour has a special sense of
occasion. She is in Auckland, New Zealand — a city and country the
multi-tasking icon has never visited before.

But here is the twist: Cher is so enamoured with the landscape after
watching director Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings films, she wants
to buy property in the Bay of Islands.

On a scheduled day off, Cher flies by helicopter to inspect
multimillion-dollar real estate, then to a meeting with Jackson,
shooting yet another epic.

A film buff who finds sanity and sanctity in old movies, Cher is
treated to a two-hour set visit and quiet time with an overworked

“I would love to direct a film again,” Cher tells, “but I have no
real plans. I never plan anything. And that has worked well for me.”

Cher’s Auckland show also is different because it is the first of
only two outdoor performances in 325 shows.

However, a nagging breeze taunts Cher enough to reconsider her usual
grand entrance: descending to a $3 million stage spectacle inside a
giant chandelier.

Backstage, Cher meets and engages, with sincere eye contact and
smiles, a long line of fans.

“I think I’ll need luck coming down in the chandelier tonight,” she

Fifteen minutes later, Cher opts for Plan B. She ascends to centre
stage on a platform for a solid reading of U2’s I Still Haven’t Found
What I’m Looking For.

“I’ve started my last three tours with that song,” Cher says. “It’s a
good-luck charm. It means I haven’t settled on what it is I want to
be once I grow up.”

For 40 years, a worldwide legion has watched Cher, born Cherilyn
Sarkasian LaPier, grow and hold the spotlight against all odds.

Fashionistas said her Armenian-Cherokee heritage would stall a
modelling career. Music luminaries said she would fail at singing
without former husband and svengali, Sonny Bono. Film powerbrokers
said she should not try acting.

Cher’s farewell spectacular is testament and tribute to the fact she
listened to nobody but herself.

Cher scored her first magazine cover in 1965, and is the only female
artist to have No. 1 singles across four decades. She also has won a
Best Actress Oscar, for Moonstruck, in 1988.

“My philosophy is, don’t pay much attention to what other people
think,” she says. “Be yourself. Do the things you want to do now. You
cannot live your life according to what others think.”

But on this night at a stadium on Auckland’s north shore, 20,000 fans
are celebrating the life and times of Cher, a superstar who stayed
the course and won.

Over 90 minutes, 11 costume changes and a parade of acrobatics,
jungle creatures and feelgood moments, Cher revisits an inspiring and
ever-changing career.

Sonny Bono, who died in a ski accident six years ago, is remembered
in a loving video tribute.

The production, appropriately, is larger than life with up to 100
people and 15 semi-trailers on the road.

Her managers, Roger Davies and Lindsay Scott, are both Australian,
and also represent Tina Turner, Sade, Pink and Joe Cocker.

Certainly, the scale of Cher’s farewell tour rates alongside mammoth
outings by Turner, Pink and Janet Jackson, a former Scott and Davies

“Physically, Cher is the biggest show we’ve ever done,” says Scott.
“I think there is a sense of whimsy, of Cher’s personality, that is
projected in her show. But I think her vision for the show wasn’t any
more complicated than, ‘Let’s go out and have some fun. Let’s get
some fabulous costumes, lots of sparkles, great lights and enjoy

Cher agrees. “Because it’s the last tour I’ll ever do, it’s pretty
much a history lesson about me.

“People always ask me what it is I do. If I’m not a singer, I must be
an actress. If I’m not an actress, I must be a singer. I like to
think of myself as an artist. I don’t think I have to be pigeonholed.

“It used to be that people didn’t trust you if you did more than one
thing. But I think that’s changing.

“When I was a singer and wanted to trying acting, everybody was:
‘Yeah, right.’ But when I acted, I didn’t make an album for eight

“Then, when I came back and made a new album, there were people who
didn’t even know I sang,” Cher laughs.

“There were even more people who didn’t know I’d sung with Sonny.”

Cher’s farewell tour began as a 58-date run in 2002. But demand for
dates has been relentless.

When she performs at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre on March 11
and 12, she will have been on the road for 34 months and played to
three million people at more than 300 shows.

Cher will take her final bow at the Hollywood Bowl, a venue where she
recalls her fondest Sonny and Cher memory, on April 30. It will be
show No. 325.

“I can’t get emotional about the final show yet,” Cher says. “Right
now, I can only take it show by show.

“But it will be hard to pack this show away. I think that’s why I’ve
kept it going. At some point, I’m going to be really sad about it
because I’ve never thought of not touring. It’s always been part of
my life.

“I’m sure the realisation will hit me later. For now, my focus is the

Offstage, Cher is relaxed and spontaneous. She will venture from her
hotel room to sightsee, or sneak into a cinema when the lights have
gone down.

“Obviously, it’s not easy for her to get out,” Scott says. “She loves
old movies. She will have those running in her room, even if she’s
not watching them.”

To break the tour grind, Cher reads and takes a keen interest in

“And she does needlepoint,” Scott reveals. “Most people would never
imagine Cher doing simple things like fixing her clothes, but she
really enjoys it. Tina (Turner) is the same. You find maintenance
things to do and look after yourself.”

Cher will travel by private jet to Australia, but she has done 90 per
cent of this farewell run on a customised bus.

“She has a bed and a movie screen on the bus, so she’s very happy
back there,” Scott says.

“Cher will do the 14-hour drives rather than get on a plane and fly
for an hour. Besides, it’s expensive to fly in private jets
everywhere. You have to be selective.”

A TYPICAL tour day is boring. Cher sleeps until noon, exercises or
gets a massage, then prepares for the show.

She phones her kids Chastity and Elijah regularly.

She draws a blank when asked how she feels she has made an impact on
people’s lives.

“It’s hard to know any of these things,” she says.

“And I’m not pretending. It’s hard to know. People say things but you
can’t believe it. It’s hard to understand how important your
contribution really is.

“Honestly, I just don’t get it sometimes. I’m just living my life.
Every time I get on stage, I’m genuinely surprised at all the people

Cher has no firm plan after April 30. She will record a new album.
She wants to direct. She may do an opera.

“I’m not going to give up show business, but there are new girls
coming up like Britney and J-Lo,” Cher tells the crowd in Auckland.

They boo in response.

“I know,” Cher says, joking: “They are hoes, aren’t they?”

Later, Cher, in ringmaster outfit and brandishing a whip, revels in
the spectacle about to unfold.

Tongue firmly in cheek, she sends another missive to the young
bloods: “Follow this, you bitches.”

Cher plays Brisbane Entertainment Centre on March 11 and 12, with
some tickets still available for March 11 through Ticketek