Farewell, and farewell again: Cher never can say goodbye

Serious about going, yet unable to leave, the singer keeps prolonging her tour

By the Numbers

October 05, 2003|By Meredith James | Meredith James,Sun Staff

As the old song says: How can we miss her if she won't go away?

Cher, the pop diva who has sung about wishing she could turn back time, is back again in the Baltimore-Washington area this week to say goodbye -- supposedly for the final time -- on her marathon "Living Proof: The Farewell Tour."

The Oct. 10 show at MCI Center in Washington is Cher's third stop in these environs -- she's played one date at MCI, another at Baltimore's 1st Mariner Arena -- since she embarked on the tour last year. The originally scheduled 50-show run has turned into a 200-show marathon, with more extensions than her latest hairstyle.

It all began on June 14, 2002, in Toronto. The plan then was to play 50 North American cities over three months to say so-long to adoring fans.

Apparently, saying farewell was tougher than she anticipated. Before the initial tour was over, 39 more shows were added, with a new end date of Dec. 19, 2002.

Maybe it was the spirit of Christmas moving her, but the tireless songstress decided to extend the tour yet again, with 22 more shows to be presented before hanging up her wigs and designer duds on May 3, 2003.

That looked like it, but then June 2003 rolled around, and brought the announcement of yet another "final" tour date: Aug. 31, 2003. Cher's publicist, Lindsay Scott, was quoted as saying: "She's very serious about leaving the road."

Serious, but still not ready, it seems. The tour was extended yet again, this time through the fall, with a final date on Halloween, Oct. 31, for a disco-themed show featuring the Village People, Thelma Houston and Sister Sledge.

Tour promoters promise that this last swing is definitely the end of Cher's endless travels. The trip that began in Toronto will wind back there for a last hurrah more than 500 days later. (While Cher insists this is her last North American show, speculation of a similar venture abroad has already begun.)

Beyond proving the 56-year-old star's fortitude, the extended send-off also showed that the Grammy and Oscar winner still has a large fan base. Living Proof was the third highest grossing tour in 2002, drawing $73.6 million in ticket sales. And there was no drop-off in demand even in cities she visited again and again, such as New York, Omaha, Cleve-land, Topeka, Wichita and Oklahoma City.

Over the course of the tour, her Miami concert, taped November 2002, has aired twice on NBC and won three Emmys. The Very Best of Cher CD was released, sold over 1 million copies and spent two months on Billboard's Top 10. Two DVDs, one a taped concert and the other a music video package, also were developed.

By the time she hangs up her Halloween costume -- if she does -- she'll have sung to some 2.2 million fans and grossed $150 million.

Living Proof: The Farewell Tour plays MCI Center in downtown Washington Friday at 7:30 p.m. For ticket information, call 410-481-SEAT or go online to ticketmaster.com or mcicenter.com.

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