It’s hard to believe Cyndi Lauper’s groundbreaking and career making album release SHE’S SO UNUSUAL is celebrating its 30th Anniversary this year. Now if that doesn’t age some folks in my generation nothing will. A rising star on the virgining television music channel MTV Lauper burst into our living rooms multi-colored, soulful, flamboyant, playful, and just plain fun (hence the title of the album?). Selling more than 16 million copies the album produced five hits, rivaling her male counterparts on the charts; Michael Jackson, Duran Duran, Billy Idol, Bruce Springsteen and a blonde woman from Detroit, Madonna (whom all released albums with multi hit singles). As an audience we were brought into her family of characters through her videos and at times shown not only her humorous but tender side. For the wrestling fans in the know, manager ‘Captain’ Lou Albano played her father in the video for the title track. Her real life mom, Catrine (playing herself) not only guest starred but was also featured in the touchingly heartbreaking classic TIME AFTER TIME. With her blazing red hair (though it did change color often), new wave attitude and heavy New York Italian accent, there was no way Lauper wasn’t going to sing her way into our hearts.
This evening Hard Rock Live in Hollywood Florida welcomed the pop goddess in all her glory; the audience was rather festive too. Not looking a day over 30ish, Lauper bounces across the stage better than most pop singers half her age (Cyndi is 60). Dressed in black leather pants, black leather and lace corset top, her blazing long red hair could be seen like a beacon in the night. Her voice is still a wonder and pointedly clear as she hits her famous notes octaves above the rest. Mixing nostalgia, fan favorites and a couple newbie’s, Lauper ripped through the entire release of UNUSUAL without breaking a sweat. ALL THROUGH THE NIGHT, MONEY CHANGES EVERYTHING, GIRLS JUST WANNA HAVE FUN and the little naughty song that could, SHE BOP had everyone in the arena on their feet and singing along. At one point Lauper left the stage to join the audience in a sing along from atop someone’s seat.
Always personable Lauper shared stories with the audience between numbers in a style only she can. Giving us all inside background information on the albums original release though interesting it seemed a bit long. There was a moment however that felt a little tense as Lauper fired back at audience members who were more exuberant than she expected. Screams of “I love you Cyndi,” and hoops and hollers seemed more of a nuisance to the singer this evening than normal. Maybe it was the rainy weather outside or some backstage drama, nevertheless, the show went on and the music continued. I have to admit I was taken aback when it came to Lauper’s demeanor. On more than on occasion she scolded the audience telling various concert attendees to “shut the f**ck up.” She threatened to toss out one concert goer by alerting security and even during a longer monologue commented “If you didn’t come here to hear me talk there’s the door, get the f**k out”. This was not the Cyndi Lauper I had come to expect in concert. I’m sure other fans that had seen her multiple times had the same reaction. Be this as it may it was truly great to see the range of people Lauper’s fans represent. From young to old (many weren’t even born when UNUSUAL was released in 1983), gay, straight, families, couples, and don’t discount the single folks. No two Cyndi Lauper shows are alike and as expected tonight was obviously no exception.
Other songs from the evening included WHEN YOU WERE MINE, YEAH YEAH, a stirring version of Etta James AT LAST accompanied only by piano and of course her anthem, TRUE COLORS. I’ve seen Cyndi a handful of times over the years, and had the pleasure of meeting her a few, but nothing compares to seeing her live on stage. There is a glow about her when she’s singing that emanates incredible talent and a love of music. Cyndi Lauper may not be so unusual 30 years on but one thing is for sure, her voice and talent have become extraordinary.
For this evening’s performance Hunter Valentine was Cyndi Lauper’s special guest opening act. Originally forming in 2004 in Ontario Canada, the alternative girl band has found a steady fan base that seems to grow with every performance. Admittedly I really hadn’t heard their music before this evening’s performance. I was immediately struck by their musicianship and strong material. The quartet can certainly rock and reminds me of a cross between Joan Jett and Green Day. Their on stage attitude appears to be ‘All rock all the time.’ And after all, isn’t that what it’s all about?