On Friday October 7th Cyndi Lauper came to the “Valley of the Sun” to play to a sold-out concert at Talking Stick Resort’s Grand Ballroom. Cyndi is an American pop musician and actress whose career spans over 30 years. She released her debut solo album, She’s So Unusual, in 1983 which produced four top-five hits and won her a Grammy for the Best New Artist. Cyndi has generated 11 albums including her latest, Detour which is a collection of a number of early country classics recorded in her unique style. Over the years, Cyndi has won three of the four major American entertainment awards, a Grammy (twice), an Emmy and a Tony. She is also a strong advocate for gay and transgender rights in the United States. In her early years she expressed herself with a variety of hair colors and eccentric clothing giving her a punk and new wave look. She was also one of the early pioneers of the MTV generation. You might have seen her recently on the hit TV show “Bones” as the psychic, Avalon Harmonia.
Cyndi is not only a singer but also a great song writer and story teller. She told us that she was influenced by strong female singers including Patsy Cline. During the concert she told a number of stories about her life. The first was a story about her stay at a hotel with a picture of Dolly Parton on the wall that had the saying, “What would Dolly Do?” While she was there, they lost all water in the hotel. She say a little later she found large cockroach in the bathroom which she caught and released into the hall. She then looked at the picture of Dolly, and figure “What Would Dolly Say” is to get the “F” out of there. She told us about her early life as a child of the late 50s and watching westerns on TV on Saturdays with her brother and sister. They would run around the house acting out the westerns. This had a major influence on her life and future musical career. It was one of the reasons she did her latest album, Detour. At one point, some guy in the audience yelled out “just sing” and Cyndi, without missing a beat, just said “You haven’t heard me in 40 years, so get a drink and sit down”.
Cyndi started the show with Funnel of Love and then moved into a fan favorite, She Bop which had the entire audience standing and dancing. Cyndi wore leather boots, leather pants and a fringe jacket. As she danced around on the stage the fringe on the jacket would fly out as she spun. The middle part of the set was her country part of the show where she performed a number of songs from her new album, Detour. During You Don’t Know, she was dancing around on the stage and someone from the crowd handed her a “Rainbow Flag” which she wore over her shoulders and later danced with it over her head.
The main set ended with Money Changes Everything. At first the audience was a little peeved since the show so far was only 1 hour long. However, after a short break, Cyndi and the band came out to perform the first of two encore sets. For the first song, they had an old payphone on the side of the stage and Cyndi sang into the receiver. The first encore consisted of four songs, including two of her famous songs, Time After Time and Girls Just Want to Have Fun. They left the stage again and after another short break, Cyndi came back on stage by herself wearing a second “Rainbow Flag” over her shoulders and did two more songs where she sang and played the steel guitar. The final song of the night was True Colors where everyone was standing and singing along with her. True Colors is recognized by many as an LGBT anthem.
Having listened to Cyndi during the 80s on MTV, I was expecting more of the pop style music that I associated with her. I was a little surprised when a number of her songs were country. I had not heard her new album, Detour, so I was surprised. I am not a country music fan, but between her wonderful voice and the outstanding band backing her, it was enjoyable. The concert was a good mix of the country songs from Detour and her classic pop songs. She did two of my favorites and from the audience’s response, their favorite songs also, Time After Time and Girls Just Want to Have Fun. And probably the most beautiful and moving song of the night was True Colors.
For this tour Cyndi has put together an outstanding group of musicians including Sammy Merendino (Drums), Andy Burton (Keyboard), William Wittman (Bass), Jon Graboff (Steel Guitar), Alex Nolan (Guitar) and Elaine Caswell (Backup Singer).
Review and photos by Fred Kuhlman
Promoter: Danny Zelisko Presents
Venue: Talking Stick Resort Ballroom
Photos © Fred Kuhlman 2016
Set List: (Album)
Funnel of Love (Detour, Wanda Jackson cover)
She Bop (She’s So Unusual)
Heartaches by the Number (Detour, Ray Price cover)
I Drove All Night (A Night to Remember)
The End of the World (Detour, Skeeter Davis cover)
Walking After Midnight (Detour, Patsy Cline cover)
I Want to Be a Cowboy’s Sweetheart (Detour, Patsy Montana cover)
You Don’t Know (Sisters of Avalon)
When You Were Mine (She’s So Unusual, Prince cover)
Money Changes Everything (She’s So Unusual, The Brains cover)
Misty Blue (Detour, Eddy Arnold cover)
Kindred Spirit (A Night to Remember)
Time After Time (She’s So Unusual)
Girls Just Want to Have Fun (She’s So Unusual, Robert Hazard cover)
Fearless (Sisters of Avalon)
True Colors (True Colors)