Last Night: Cyndi Lauper at House of Blues

Cyndi Lauper
House of Blues
August 11, 2010

Better than: staying home and watching American Idol: Blues Edition.

Looking spry and awkwardly fashionable, pop icon Cyndi Lauper hit the stage last night at House of Blues looking to educate her fans about the value of the blues.

"I've been wanting to make this new album for eight years," Lauper told the crowd at the outset, referring to her recently released effort, Memphis Blues. The record is all blues all the time, with very little in common with the light pop confections that Lauper is best known for.

Yet Lauper's take on the blues does hold true to one aspect of her career: polish.

Songs like "Just Your Fool" and "Shattered Dreams," are so perfectly executed in a live setting that they might have well been featured on some blues version of American Idol. Not a note was out of place as Lauper demonstrated her incredible vocal range and surprisingly nuanced delivery.

Her love for the blues is obvious, but listening to her turn "Crossroads" into a slightly burlesque, white-boy rock song is kind of like listening to Neil Diamond's utter destruction of "God Only Knows." Diamond understood nothing of the Beach Boys' complex harmonies or Brian Wilson's warped vision. To Diamond, the song was meant to be beaten into submission, overpowered by drama and angst.

Lauper's goal is admirable, although her cajoling of the crowd to "go google" various blues performers got old pretty fast. And are Cyndi Lauper fans the only people in the world who don't know that "all rock 'n' roll comes from the blues"?

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Nonetheless, the band and the crowd proved to be incredible patient as Lauper proceeded to sing just about every song off the new record before thrilling the multi-generational throng with those damn hits from the '80s. But, hey, "Change of Heart," "Time After Time," "She Bop" and, of course, "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" sounded great and Lauper put as much effort in those warhorses as she did the blues material.

As Lauper closed the show with another new song, the crowd exited promptly, out into the incredible hot night, to hop into their cars just in time to hear that the Rangers had blown a five-run lead to lose to the Yankees.

Talk about the blues.

Critic's Notebook
Personal Bias:
At 57, Lauper still looks pretty damn good. Sporting a nappy red-headed wig and striped tights, Lauper was the cougar of my dreams.

Random Note: A very interesting crowd filled the venue to 3/4 capacity. A lot of mother/daughter singalong action took place, along with the expected alternative contingent dancing and singing along to the hits.

By The Way: Funny line from one of the "ticket brokers" in front of the venue last night: "Hey, move that bicycle off the sidewalk. This ain't no parking lot. This is my office."

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