Review by Zyllah Moranne-Brown with Photography by Hollie Turner.

Cyndi Lauper. A career spanning 30 years right from when her debut back in ’83 spawned five top ten hits on the Billboard 100 including ‘Girls Just Want To Have Fun.’ Grammy Award winner – Lauper has released ten studio albums since ’89. She’s also won multiple awards for composing the Broadway musical ‘Kinky Boots.’ She was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2015, and throughout her career has sold over 50 million albums. And that’s just a snapshot of what she’s achieved.

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In May 2016 she released ‘Detour’ her interpretations of early country classics. And that’s JUST the musical side of Lauper, she’s an activist, a staunch LBGT and human rights campaigner. One of music’s icons, she has made waves equally as much for her music as for her activism.

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And so back to tonight’s gig at the delectable Symphony Hall. It’s been five years since her last UK appearance –  and she’s our celebrating her new album ‘Detour.’  This outing has a long list of guest appearances from the likes of Willie Nelson, Vince Gill, Emmylou Harris, Alison Krauss and notable Nashville session musicians  was inspired by her childhood. “When I was a really young kid, country music was pop music, so this is what we grew up listening to. These songs are part of some of my earliest memories…”

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Support tonight comes from local boy Matt Henry, who found fame on BBC1’s ‘The Voice’, but prior was a star of the West End. Recently he’s been back to his roots and the West End production of ‘Kinky Boots’  and won an Olivier Award for his performance. And he is a busy boy – he’s just released his debut album ‘Red Flare.’

So at 7.30pm on he comes – “How are we doing? Good to be home…” announces the boy from Bartley Green. He’s chatty and engaing playing us a few tracks from his new album – plus a couple of cover’s including Paul Simon’s ‘You Can Call Me Al’ which we all sing along too. He’s fun and engaging, a performer with a great voice. He was in the foyer, doing the signing, chatting, selfies thing after his performance, check out his new album at all the usual places.

And quick break and here the main lady comes. Full 6 piece band in tow, she’s singing away on a mini stand at the back of the stage –  a full height curtain reveals her – to shouts of  “Happy Birthday!” from the audience (indeed it is, she’s an incredible 63 today!) Garbed in leather, all country-style, with stetson hat and suitcase (?) in hand, she starts off her set with ‘Funnel of Love’ off her new album (Wanda Jackson cover).  A massive cheer from the crowd and we have a hit ‘She-Bop.’ Hat off, pink, punk dreads there is no calmingdwon for Lauper.

“Thank you for the birthday wishes….” in her infamous New York drawl. “I love you all, in a kinda retro, revival way…. you get old with grace….. who the f*** is grace?” she quips. After her hits, her then record company changed, and seated in front of an “accountant” he looked down on her, they way she was. After parting of the ways, she’s now back home and back with Sire. “It’s never too late to do what you want. And never listen to anyone who tells you how you should do it….” Her new album is on vinyl, and she’s excited ny this. The album is available in blue, while the single available in pink – to match her hair!

‘I Drove All Night.’ Wow. sing that song, there is sections where the notes on “night” roll on for ages. Lauper nails it. Bang on. Audition impressed they stand for a resounding standing ovation.  Back to country –  and she’s standing on a mini revolving stage giving a passionate rendition of ‘The End of the World’ (Skeeter Davis), followed by Patsy Cline’s ‘Walking After Midnight.’

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” I know it’s country……. but… ya’know… it’s the roots of rock. Geez…. when I was a kid everything was Western….” as she brings a pony stick (hobby horse) to the stage. As kids they were zooped up on sugar cereal, her and her friends enacted Westerns, tripping on the sugar high. And she takes us into ‘I Want To Be A Cowboy’s Sweetheart’ (Patsy Montana).

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Lauper’s songs have a poignancy, and several tonight have that emotional, yet desperately sad timeliness. A song she’s regularly played – a song by Prince. He was kooky and funny and sweet to her always – and she gives a truely passionate perfomance of ‘When You Were Mine.’

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“Dancing is good for you…. get on your feet a little…. I’m f***ing old too.” An intro to the band, she still aint happy people are seated: “Are you allowed to stand? Sorry to interrupt your time……” Everyone duly obliges as she rocks down to ‘Money Changes Everything.’ Sod being 63, go Cyndi Lauper!

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Short break and to the encore – and the crowd sings her ‘Happy Birthday.’ She’s kinda embarrased and coy about it. And takes to singing on mic disguised as a wall-phone – ‘Misty Blue’ (Eddy Arnold cover). The prop breaks down halfway through the song, but the band and her carry on to complete it like it had never happened.

Birthday celebrations still not over, as an audience member gives her a huge bunch of flowers. She takes to a table guitar and one of her big hits ‘Time After Time.’ The songs rolls and rolls, vocal’s immaculately delivered, and the crowd chants…“time after time…… time after time….”

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Matt Henry is invited back – and Lauper tells us they’re just gonna f*** around. “Girl’s Just Want To Have Fun.” Big and fun, and energetic and we sing. Lauper is impressive live – she’s at Glasonbury this weekend. Stuff the mud, she’s definitely one to go and seek out.

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It’s nearly over. One more finale. Seated in front of her table guitar. She’s had a great night tonight she says.

Sometimes artists, perfomances and songs they sing collide in being a moment in time that sums up that moment in its entirity. Sad events across American (two US The Voice artists shot dead, the massacre in the gay nightclub in Orlando) would be enough. Tonight as we know it’s Lauper’s birthday.   It would have also have been the 42nd birthday of MP Jo Cox…

“Hate is so wrong – fight back through tolerance. I dedicate this to Jo….”

‘True Colors.’ Not a dry eye in the house. Lauper is passionate, singing from the depths of her soul, as with her whole heart and soul she sings: “I see your true colors, And that’s why I love you…..” (shreeking) “….so don’t be afraid.” And stops silent.

“She believed in people. Believe in people.”

And I’ll leave this review with the closing lyrics. Close your eyes and sing:

” ….to let them show,
your true colors
true colors are beautiful……
like a rainbow….”

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Setlist:
Funnel of Love (Wanda Jackson)
She Bop
Heartaches by the Number (Ray Price)
I Drove All Night
The End of the World (Skeeter Davis)
Walking After Midnight (Patsy Cline)
I Want To Be A Cowboy’s Sweetheart (Patsy Montana)
You Don’t Know Me
When You Were Mine (Prince)
Money Changes Everything (The Brains)

Encore:
Misty Blue (Eddy Arnold)
Time After Time
Girls Just Want To Have Fun

Encore:
True Colors

One Response to “Cyndi Lauper + Matt Henry @ Symphony Hall, Birmingham – 22 June 2016”

  1. Cyndi Lauper | Azurite's Blog Says:

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