Cher has announced the end date of her three-year Las Vegas residency, set to come to a close at Caesars Palace on February 5. But if there's anything we should have learned by now about the 64-year-old singer's career, it's that the beat will go on. It's a win-win situation for diva-maniacs everywhere: Celine Dion will get to reclaim the Colosseum that was built for her, and Cher will get to hit the road for another farewell tour.
Of course, Cher's camp isn't touting the fact that she'll be hitting the arena circuit again in 2011 as part of the official publicity line right now. Better to emphasize the urgency of picking up tickets for her remaining block of dates in Vegas, which just went on sale. But Cher was recently quoted about her plans to hit the road again, telling the Las Vegas press, "You know, I never thought I would ever consider touring again but I miss it. I really do." (If you bought a ticket to her 2002-2005 "Living Proof: The Farewell Tour" on the basis of taking her at her word about retirement, do not expect a refund.)
Cher is leaving Las Vegas at a good time. Her grosses have been down this year, but she can certainly still exit on a note of triumph. The Caesars residency has grossed more than $75 million so far, having played to about 533,000 fans at roughly 150 shows, according to Billboard's Boxscore. With tickets topping out at $250 and bottoming at $95, she's averaged 90 percent attendance over the three-year run. Certainly she's proven a more potent box-office draw than Bette Midler, who preceded Cher in the 4,296-seat space, where icons are able to straddle the line between the epic and intimate.
But Cher faced the twin challenges of declining ticket sales and an even bigger draw wanting her old dressing room back.
In 2008, Cher played to almost all capacity crowds, selling 177,000 out of 178,000 available tickets at 42 shows. The ante was upped in 2009, when she played 69 gigs, averaging 88 percent attendance and selling 236,000 tickets, out of an available 270,000. In 2010, things have been a bit slower, between the rough economy, the lessened draw of Las Vegas in the summer months, and the inevitability of diminshing returns. Her reported weekly sales have dropped to the 75-85 percent range—still estimable, but not the kind of business that Celine will be able to do upon her return in March.
No one in or out of Argentina should shed a tear for Cher, who has defied every kind of odds to remain as easy a sell as she is. When Pollstar calculated the top concert draws of the last decade, Cher came in 12th, having sold 3.5 million tickets and earned $263.5 million, between her "Farewell" tour and the beginning of her stint in Vegas. Dion was in second place in that ranking, having sold 4 million tickets and grossed $522 million. But this is comparing blockbuster business to mega-blockbuster business. It's not the sort of comparison that's going to give Cher an insecurity complex and make her want to put some (non-Bob-Mackie) clothes on or anything.
Details about Cher's comeback tour next year have not been forthcoming, presumably because no one wants to dissuade fans from taking a trip to Nevada by flagging the possibility that she might soon be visiting Poughkeepsie. Just keep in mind—any time you hear the words "last" or "final" associated with Cher—that after the nuclear apocalypse, the two things we can count on surviving are cockroaches and a 12-costume-change Cher revue.
Are you inclined to snag a ticket for her last run of Vegas shows, or will you hold out for her comeback arena tour? Or would you rather just catch her Canuck successor at Caesars?
- Celine Dion
- Caesars Palace