Cyndi Lauper--She’s So Unusual Tour
If there’s any wonder if legendary pop-songstress Cyndi Lauper is still "unusual," then wonder no more. She is. And that’s not a bad thing. Celebrating the 30th anniversary of her debut album "She’s So Unusual," Lauper devoted an entire night to the thirty-eight minute record in a tour that made a stop at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles on Thursday night.
You might also wonder how she was able to drag this out for almost two hours, but she did and easily so. She regaled the audience with lengthy stories about the production of the record, the various producers she worked with, and humorous tales about the conception of some of the songs. She did this with her usual quirky sense of humor, sometimes seeming like a woman on the verge of becoming a stand-up comedian rather than a pop-star.
What was interesting about the show was that she not only performed the album in track order, but the arrangements also hewed closely to the original ’80s style. This took a bit of getting used to because nowadays we are accustomed to more instrumentation and a fuller sound. Here, that slight ’80s sound was front and center, which grew to be fun. It wasn’t until her encore of "Shine" that a richer sound developed.
For Lauper fans (and there was a packed house of mostly middle-aged straight folk) she touched on all the hits: "Money Changes Everything," "Girls Just Want to Have Fun," "Time after Time," "She Bop" and "All Through the Night."
Most songs got their own story with other anecdotes mixed in. We heard about old boyfriends, other artists that seemed to be afraid of her because she was whacky (Bob Dylan), as well as admitting that she’s a pain in the ass. More than once she gracefully acknowledged when a fan screamed that they loved her, but then added that they might not feel the same if they really had to live with her. This, of course, made everyone love her even more.
And this was Cyndi; self-deprecating, direct and a little under the weather. But she made the Greek Theatre feel intimate by (more than once) heading into the crowd to belt out her hits. And belt out she does. For anyone who doubts her as a singer -- mostly because of her uncommon speaking voice -- her pipes are powerhouses and as strong, if not stronger, than they were back in the ’80s.
The show itself was simple: Just a few projections on a back screen and minimal changing of lighting. The focus was on Cyndi herself which not only made the night feel enjoyably old-school, but kept the focus on the singer. The only thing missing from the show (which she previously performed in San Diego) were some added songs from other albums, not to mention her Tony-Award winning score for the 2013 Best Musical "Kinky Boots."
Her encore included the aforementioned "Shine," as well as a brief a capella version of "True Colors," but that was it. It would have been nice to have gotten a bit more of her discography to appreciate just how far she’s come from the days when part of her head was buzzed and her hair was the color of Kool-Aid. But those are minor quibbles.
What the audience got was a wonderfully nostalgic trip back to a time of neon and mismatched clothing, when songs were vibrant and memorable, and clearly stood the test of time.... much like the "unusual" girl herself.