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Concert Review

Cher At The Amway Center, Orlando, Florida 1/21/2019 (Concert Review)


Cher At The Amway Center, Orlando, Florida 1/21/2019 (Concert Review)

One of my best friends lives in Orlando and I try to visit her every year. When she lived near me we went to a few concerts together, including Peter Frampton, Elton John, and Tom Jones, as her husband really isn’t a fan of the music we like, and it gave my husband an excuse not to go with me. Now that my friend is in Orlando the only concert she’s been to with her husband is opera great Andrea Bocelli. Since I’m a huge concert fan we’ve decided to time my visit based on a concert we’d both love to attend. Two years ago it was Billy Joel. This year it was Cher. Billy was once again performing at the Amway Center in early January, and he always puts on a great show. But people, this is CHER! Not just a singer or actress, but an all-around entertainer. This was a show we did not want to miss.

If you know anything about Cher you're aware of her wild costumes, big hair, and stunning sets. At the Amway Center she did not disappoint. The show started with a video montage of Cher, from the 1960s to the present day, including clips with Sonny Bono, her former singing partner and husband, and her children. This was followed by Cher’s dramatic entrance, complete with orange hair and golden headpiece, singing one of her more recent hits, “Woman’s World.”

She took some time during the show to tell a few stories as only Cher can. She told the crowd about her “two night” 40th birthday, which was when she met one of her longtime boyfriends, Rob Camiletti. Her 15-minute story had the crowd laughing and applauding, especially after she announced that at 72 years old she wasn’t as good as she once was but was happy just to be there. Hey, if I look like that when I’m 72 I’ll find a stage somewhere and strut my stuff!

During the numerous costume changes, video montages and voice overs played on small tv screens on the set: Cher dressed as Elvis Presley and singing “Heartbreak Hotel;” Sonny and Cher performing “Little Man/All I Ever Need Is You.” The most poignant was Sonny singing his part while Cher sang live on “The Beat Goes On” and “I Got You Babe.”

Remember the “Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour” from the early 1970s? For me, it was must-watch TV. Sonny and Cher not only sang, but performed in silly skits. Cheesy by today’s standards, yet a fun memory.

The fans were truly loving Cher’s covers of ABBA hits: “Waterloo,” “SOS,” and “Fernando.” Cher was feeding off the crowd’s energy and they responded by singing and dancing along.

For the ending songs, “If I Could Turn Back Time” and “Believe” Cher was rocking an outfit very similar to the risqué body stocking she wore for the video of “Time” in 1989, though this time much more modest.

Fans were expecting a party at the Cher concert and they were not disappointed. While her voice isn't quite as strong as it once was Cher still knows how to work a crowd. She may be 72 years old but she still has a bright future ahead of her.

The opening act for Cher on this tour is Nile Rodgers and Chic. I have to confess the first time I saw Chic was…ahem…40 years ago when they played at my college. Yes, that’s how long I’ve been going to concerts, with a gap when my kids were young. Chic performed for close to an hour, which really wasn’t long enough. They started with the hits, “Everybody Dance,” “Dance, Dance, Dance,” and “I Want Your Love.” Nile Rodgers talked a lot about his history in the music business, as most people either know him from his work with Chic, or his work as a producer of many well-known artists: Duran Duran, David Bowie, Diana Ross, Sister Sledge, and Daft Punk, just to name a few. Rodgers, a cancer survivor who acknowledged music is what kept him going during his recovery, really got down and funky with Chic singing and dancing to their huge dance hits, “Le Freak” and “Good Times.” It felt like we were back in the late 1970s/early 1980s disco era, and I loved it. What a way to end the show!

Seeing Chic brought back some sweet college memories. Cher was just a lot of fun. And of course spending time with my BFF – priceless.


REO Speedwagon/Chicago (Concert Review)


REO Speedwagon/Chicago (Concert Review)

I went to high school and college in the 1970s and 1980s. As a result, the music I prefer is from that time period. And the many concerts I attend are artists and groups from those eras. Recently I had the pleasure of enjoying a band that has been making music for over 50 years: Chicago.

But first, let’s start with the opening act, REO Speedwagon.

The first time I saw REO was in July 2003. I remember thinking at that time that lead singer Kevin Cronin talked a lot! In the 15 years that have elapsed, nothing has changed! However, his talking between songs was showing appreciation to the fans. He acknowledged that without us, there would be no REO Speedwagon. As fans, we pay good money for concert tickets, merchandise, physical media, and streaming services. It’s nice to hear that the artist is aware of this, and recognizes it. Many artists don’t.

REO played their hits, including, “Take It On The Run,” “Roll With The Changes,” “Can’t Fight This Feeling,” and “Keep On Loving You.” REO performed like they wanted to be there, not as if they were begrudgingly fulfilling an obligation. At 66 years old Cronin can still sing the hits like it’s 1980.

The show ended with a tribute to Tom Petty. Cronin told the story of how Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers was his favorite band (as is mine), and that he and Petty were neighbors in Southern California. The band dedicated “Listen To Her Heart” to Petty. REO kept it simple and beautiful.

Chicago was the headliner, and based on the crowd reaction, they were ready to party. But the mood grew quiet as Chicago announced they would be playing their album, Chicago II in its entirety. The only songs most fans recognized were “Make Me Smile,” “Color My World,” and “25 or 6 to 4.”  While they sounded great, it was a bit of a bore, as most people, including myself, like to hear the hits from a band that has been around more than 20 years, and in this case, more than 50.

The crowd woke up once the classic rock section began: “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?,” “Beginnings,” “Saturday In The Park,” “If You Leave Me Now.” The brass section, including original members James Pankow and Lee Loughnane, were having the time of their lives, and sounded amazing. Another original member, Robert Lamm, sang with as much enthusiasm as he did when he first performed these songs 40 plus years ago.

The highlight of Chicago’s set was the Spencer Davis Group cover of, “I’m A Man.” Drummer Walfredo Reyes, Jr., and percussionist Ramon Yslas couldn’t have enjoyed themselves more banging on the drums, bongos, tambourine, occasionally trading places without missing a beat.

I would have preferred for Chicago to skip playing the album and focus on the hits. Their catalog is so vast, ranging from rock to brass to pop, that there’s a little something for everyone. While this wasn’t my favorite Chicago concert, if they come back to my area I will be in the audience once again.