If Cher could turn back time a dozen years, would she still choose to call her 2002 tour – which was extended into 2003, then 2004, then 2005 – her last?
Back then, she said, “This truly is it” for touring. But last September, at age 67, the pop megastar announced she was coming out of tour retirement to stage the “Dressed to Kill” tour. Since launching in March, her show has been almost universally praised; it stops at Charlotte’s Time Warner Cable Arena on Monday night.
After this, she says, she is done.
During a phone call Tuesday from Philadelphia, Cher explained what brought her back, how this show is different, and why we’ll never see her on the road again.
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Q. I suspect a lot of people last time around thought it would be their last chance to see you perform live. Are you definitively saying that this is definitely it for you in terms of touring?
A Yeah. There will be no more touring for me. And it’s kind of a scary thought.
Q. But didn’t you think the previous tour would be your last one, too?
A I swear, it never occurred to me that I would tour again. Because I was pretty old then. How old was I, Lizzie? (Talking to her publicist Liz Rosenberg.) I was old. I was already old. But that was 11 years ago. Eleven years ago I was old. ... I think the only person that ever toured at 70 was Tina (Turner). But Tina’s a special case.
Q. Some would say you’re a special case, too.
A No, I’m not as special as Tina. Tina’s got more energy than five young girls.
Q. What’s your energy level like?
A I mean, I work out after the show sometimes, or the day of the show. So I still have an awful lot of energy, and then run around all night.
Q. So did you feel an obligation to tour again once you put out the “Closer to the Truth” album last year?
A Definitely. If the album hadn’t been well-received – I don’t know. I don’t think anyone would’ve come. Well, maybe that’s not exactly true, but ...
Q. But the crowds have been great so far, I’ve read.
A They’ve been unbelievable. Maybe they’re just being nice because I’m old.
Q. I hear you go through more than a dozen costume changes.
A We go through I think 11.
Q. And the costumes are similar in terms of elaborateness to the last tour?
A Well, I am missing Bob Mackie (her longtime designer turned down the opportunity to create her costumes this time), which was kind of a big blow. But I do have costumes of his that I wear that are still beautiful. People would really be upset if I turned up to sing “Turn Back Time” and wasn’t in my costume that they love. Or the Indian costume.
Q. Are those costume changes getting harder to pull off?
A We can get in and out of every single one of them in less than two minutes.
Q. So do you feel like you’ve slowed down at all on stage?
A No, I haven’t slowed down. But I had my foot operated on (in December, to repair an old injury) and that’s kept me from dancing. For a person who had this operation, which was a pretty rough operation, I’m doing great. So I run around for an hour and 40-something minutes. I’m just not dancing as much, and I have to watch my foot because it gets really swollen and painful. But it doesn’t slow me down. ... It waits till after I’m off-stage. Also, adrenaline is an amazing painkiller.
Q. Are you sure this is your last tour?
A Look, I will never be able to do anything but worse than I’m doing right now. You have to know when you have to go.
Q. How would you compare the “Dressed to Kill” tour, in terms of ambitiousness, to the “Farewell Tour” from last decade?
A I think that was a really good tour. I had a good time and it did really well. But I think this is a better show. It just got out of hand. That’s why it’s better. We spent too much money and it just got out of hand. My director and I, we sat in a room for days on end, and made up stuff – and we made up a lot of stuff this time that was really expensive. We’d just sit down and start having ideas, and the really good ideas are usually expensive.
Q. As far as your openers, Cyndi Lauper is with you again. I was thinking, it would have been easy for you to pick some big young act to support you in an attempt to draw in younger concertgoers –
A I actually didn’t think about that. I guess I should have. But Cyndi’s one of the best performers live I’ve ever seen.
Q. What are your thoughts on today’s pop stars?
A It’s no different than ever. There’s great ones and there’s mediocre ones and there’s ones that are just lucky.
Q. What artists do you find yourself listening to most these days?
A I’m kind of hung up on Adele, and I’ve still got a thing for Amy Winehouse. I really enjoyed her so much, and (her alcohol-related death in 2011) was hard for me. I hate it when unbelievable artists make that fatal mistake. It’s like Phillip Seymour Hoffman. I enjoyed watching him so much. ... So many people have died since I started my work, and it never gets easier when great artists have untimely deaths.