Cher celebrates Mother's Day at Milwaukee's Fiserv Forum with empowering concert

Piet Levy
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
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Hey, Milwaukee Moms, how was your Mother’s Day? 

Did you go out for a nice meal? Get some nice cards, flowers or gifts? Dress up like Cleopatra and float on a platform 20 feet above the ground? 

OK, so maybe you didn’t do that last one. But Cher did, in front of a packed house (and several thousand fellow moms) at Fiserv Forum Sunday.

And to think about 15 years ago, it looked like Cher was going to take it easy for the rest of her mother’s days. That blockbuster “Living Proof” farewell tour didn’t stick, and now she’s crisscrossing the country on another tour, this one with a rather uninspiring name: “Here We Go Again.” 

Sure, a seven-piece band and 10-person dance crew did much of the night's heavy lifting. And the show was disappointingly short at just 95 minutes.

But Cher hardly went through the motions.

That was evident by a rambling yet endearing 15-minute monologue, loosely centered around events in her life when she turned 40, that encapsulated Cher's appeal just as well, if not better, than the night's 16 songs. 

It was Cher at her most deliciously diva, holding little back when it came to calling people out and flaunting her fabulousness.

Among the talking points: She once told David Lettermen to his face that he was an (expletive); she did seedy gigs with Sonny Bono when their popularity took a dive and they owed the IRS $278,000; she cursed out "Witches of Eastwick" director George Miller after he called to say he and Jack Nicholson thought she wasn't sexy enough to get cast in the movie; and she looked hotter at 40 than Nicolas Cage did at 21 when they filmed "Moonstruck." 

That charming confidence continued throughout the show as Cher — now 73 — clearly relished the chance to revisit her hits. 

She sang the Sonny and Cher gems that launched her career — "The Beat Goes On" and "I Got You Babe" — honoring her late partner by using original footage and audio from his performances in the '60s. 

Pop superstar Cher performs as part of her "Here We Go Again" tour at Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee on Sunday, May 12, 2019.

For "If I Could Turn Back Time," Cher looked like she just stepped off the set of the famous 1989 music video, displaying the same swagger that made it a hit, and re-creating one of the head-turning looks from the visual treatment.

And during "After All," Cher's commanding contralto was as resplendent as her sequin-covered gown, complemented by a Madonna-inspired golden crown. 

Cher Sunday also performed three ABBA songs, on the heels of her role in "Mamma Mia 2" and "Dancing Queen" covers album last year.

"Waterloo" was campy fun thanks to 10 hard-working dancers; "Fernando" illustrated Cher's flair for dramatic vocal delivery; and "SOS" was the best of both worlds.

If you think Cher doing an ABBA covers album shows she has nothing left to prove, well, in a way, you're right. 

But during that monologue, Cher seemed to say why she's still working hard at 73.

"I want young women to know that they can be strong no matter how old they are," Cher said. "And I want older women to know they can kick ass."

Yes, they can. And yes, Cher did. 

Nile Rodgers with Chic, who opened for Cher, performs at Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee on Sunday.

The opening act 

Before Cher took the stage Sunday, Nile Rodgers & Chic got the party started with a 45-minute set. She couldn’t have asked for a more fitting opener, with Rodgers’ self-proclaimed "R&B, dance, disco, funk, soul band" doing enthusiastic, energizing takes on hits like “Le Freak” and the Studio 54-inspired “Good Times.” Rodgers’ most noteworthy individual collaborations made the set list too, including David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance,” Sister Sledge’s “We Are Family” and Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky.” 

But it was while introducing “Get Lucky” that it was clear that, for Rodgers, this party had a greater purpose. He mentioned that a few years ago he was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer. And in contemplating how to spend his remaining days, he vowed to play as many shows and write as much music as he can, while he can. That led to “Get Lucky,” and before the now-cancer-free Rodgers led his nine-piece band through the song Sunday, singer Kimberly Davis slowly and soulfully sang the opening lyrics, giving greater resonance to the words, “We’ve come too far to give up who we are.”

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The takeaways 

  • For those that lost track, Cher wore nine costumes Sunday, from a disco queen look for the ABBA songs to a bikini-and-silver-bangles ensemble for show-closer "Believe." An aerial ballet, dubstep dance number, montage of Cher movie clips and bombastic '80s arenarock guitar solo were among the diversions during the change-ups. 
  • Several Fiserv Forum staffers wore sailor hats Sunday, a nod to that "If I Could Turn Back Time" music video. 
  • A few minutes before Cher’s set started, a drag queen sitting in a floor seat got up to dance along to Donna Summer’s “Bad Girl” … and pose for pictures, do cartwheels, do the splits and accept tips in her bosom.
A fan in drag entertains the crowd before Pop superstar Cher performed as part of her "Here We Go Again" tour at Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee on Sunday, May 12, 2019.

The set list

1. "Woman's World"
2. "Strong Enough"
3. "Gayatri Mantra"
4. "All Or Nothing"
5. "The Beat Goes On" (Sonny and Cher song)
6. "I Got You Babe" (Sonny and Cher song)
7. "Welcome to Burlesque"
8. "Waterloo" (ABBA cover)
9. "SOS" (ABBA cover)
10. "Fernando" (ABBA cover)
11. "After All"
12 "Walking In Memphis" (Marc Cohn cover)
13. "The Shoop Shoop Shoop Song (It's In His Kiss)" (made famous by Betty Everett)
14. "I Found Someone" (Laura Branigan cover)
15. "If I Could Turn Back Time" 
16. "Believe"

Contact Piet at (414) 223-5162 or Follow him on Twitter at @pietlevy or Facebook at

Piet also talks concerts, local music and more on "TAP'd In" with Jordan Lee. Hear it at 8 a.m. Thursdays on WYMS-FM (88.9), or wherever you get your podcasts.


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