Staff Writer @cdarlaw"We just saw Cher walking up the stairs to the back of the stage", was all I heard after returning to my seat as I thought to myself, "I always hit the souvenir stand at the wrong time." A lifelong fan, my initial disappointment at sold-out stage front tickets to her Detroit concert turned to serendipity as I realized what our behind-the-stage seats revealed. Able to catch occasional glimpses of backstage preparations, I felt a special sort of connection, sensing I could almost see the Dr. Pepper bottles (fans should get that reference.) More importantly though, these arena seats of supposed limited visibility, made clearly evident to me something more important - the appreciation I feel for a performer who has inspired, entertained, and continually shown the path of acceptance and love. I had originally intended to write about Cher's appropriately-named Dressed to Kill tour with a focus on lifelong friend Paulette Howell, who so graciously has been keeping fans updated on "Cheralina" with Instagram pics, concert selfies, and tweets. When I learned that Pauly, affectionately called by Cher Crew, would be out of town for the Detroit show, I assumed my article might take a different turn. However, I hadn't realized how my unique seating perspective would take me in such an emotional direction. Cher has the distinction of being one of the few individuals whose name alone elicits more excitement and devotion than perhaps any other celebrity. The amount of history and resilience she brings with her is humbling enough, but the most special aura she wears is that of simply being Cher - a woman of many hairstyles and outfits, yet one beautiful heart. In watching Cher pay tribute to all the memorable highlights of her career, the affection and warmth towards these various facets of herself and her knowledge of how special they are to her fans becomes evident. The audience was treated to all of their favorite hits and accompanying fabulous costumes, from "The Beat Goes On" days to her current album, with many special stops along the way. A certain stunning Indian headdress made an appearance for one favorite 70's song of mine. (Everyone talks about the "Turn Back Time" costume, but I still say that "Half Breed look" is the most impressive.) Cher seems to regard every number of the show with a special fondness, as if each were one of her children. She introduces "Heart of Stone" as an "under-appreciated" little gem, and acknowledges that although "Just Like Jesse James" has never been a favorite of hers, she'll keep singing it because people seem to like it. Every scene transition brings a new energy with it, however, "Walking In Memphis" marks a particularly special moment in the show for me. Without the pageantry of the "Burlesque" sequence or the sparkling exhilaration of "Believe", her cover of the Marc Cohn song shows a soulful honesty, accentuated by an accompanying story of her lifelong love of Elvis and experience of standing on the seats at his concert with her mother. When Cher relates these experiences, it feels as though she's speaking directly to you. It was during these quieter moments of the show that my eyes couldn't help but gaze in wonder at the vastness of Joe Louis Arena filled with the faces of adoring fans, holding up "Detroit Loves Cher" signs and singing along to every word. While I could have been envious of front row audience members, my heart simply filled with awe and appreciation in seeing love from this perspective. Nope, I wouldn't change my seats for anything....I think I finally know where they got the word "cherish" from, and I can't think of a better person to describe it. And yep - that t-shirt was totally worth it. I finally got my selfie with Cher! ;)
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