Wednesday, October 5, 2916
Cyndi Lauper’s 30-year-old career has encompassed pop, rock, synth pop, new wave, soul and blues. Now, the singer/songwriter/actress/LGBT activist is blazing yet another musical trail with Detour, her latest 11th studio album, featuring a 12 classic country songs from the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s that finds the eclectic Lauper putting her own signature and unmistakable style on them. During a recent sold-out show at The Greek Theatre, many of those songs were the centerpiece of the personal and candid performance along with colorful, passionate and descriptive stories about her bucket list wish to make the album that come to fruition with the help of legendary Sire Records Seymour Stein who is the album’s executive producer. Talking to the audience, Lauper recalled making the pilgrimage to the South to learn about the legendary country masters. While she there was staying at a hotel, Lauper told her fans that she spoke to a mural of Dolly Parton in her bedroom for inspiration and guidance, often asking her: “What Would Dolly Do?” Then when crisis struck causing the pipes on the street near her hotel to break, and she found cockroaches in her room while putting on her makeup, without missing a beat she said: “Dolly would tell her to get the fuck out of the hotel.” The audience erupted in laughter.
The multi-octave vocalist dressed in a Southern Gothic style combining black leather, fringes and lace also gave her fans a bit of lesson on country how the genre merges with the blues referencing Ray Price, Wanda Jackson and Patsy Cline as examples. Highlights from Detour live included “Heartache By The Numbers (Ray Price), “Funnel Of Love” (Wanda Jackson), “Walking After Midnight” (Patsy Cline), and “I Want To Be a Cowboy’s Sweetheart” (Patsy Montana) and “Misty Blue” (Eddy Arnold).
While speaking between numbers, Lauper was interrupted often by shouts of “l love You,” and she responded by saying thank you or by putting overzealous fans in their place and keeping the hero worship in check, in a direct, blunt manner mirroring her street-savvy New York ways, saying: “Don’t confuse the person with the music, I could be a rat bastard. I’m high maintenance” to which the gleeful crowd, undeterred by her naked honesty, loudly cheered back their approval anyways. Lauper also singled another very vocal fan and lectured her about eating too much sugar. She felt it caused the fan to be too excitable and told her to jump and move around like she does. Lauper said she could relate having that excessive manic energy because growing up her brother and sister eat a lot of sugar, too.
Humbly paying to tribute her band, and introducing them individually to the audience, she told them you are only as good who you with play and explained she had performed with a number of the musicians at varied times in her career from the “She’s So Unusual” days to her most recent work on “Kinky Boots.” Beside the country cover material, the wonderfully talented players also accompanied Lauper on her most memorable songs: “I Drove All Night,” “Girls Just Want To Have Fun,” and “True Colors” as well as the material she has become famously associated with though not actually written herself: “When You Were Mine” (Prince) and the standout song of the night, the compelling “Money Changes Everything” (Bad Brains). The latter number’s potency hasn’t diminished over the years nor its intensity of meaning or depth of feeling. It’s every bit as relevant today and rings powerfully true. Just like Cyndi Lauper who is an authentic, fearless artist that continues to challenge herself every step of the way on her artistic journey and evolution.
Though the 1980s are long gone, but not forgotten, and certainly not in this show, though they didn’t dominate the set list, Lauper had made an interesting “Detour.” She explores other music styles and recording material that draws new fans to her. And at the same time,Lauper satisfies longtime fans who may regularly come to see her perform and hear the hit songs they love and grew up listening to.