Cyndi Lauper remains unusual. Lauper’s style is propped up by Eighties nostalgia rooted in 20’s nostalgia, mixing elements of Grace Slick, Betty Boop (aka Helen Kane) and Ethel Merman like remnants of her wardrobe. Now THERE’S something you don’t see, or hear, every day!
Her 2013 tour is unusual as well. The 22-date tour, which hit Westchester’s Capitol Theatre on the eve of its final show, is a full stop live homage reproducing her first solo record She’s So Unusual sequentially and in its entirety, ostensibly to celebrate the 30th anniversary of it’s release as well as the career and the persona it spawned. Off-hand, I can’t think of another tour like it – and there’s no shortage of great first albums that could justify the honor.
There’s nothing unusual about rock stars putting themselves up on pedestals – often literally-and plenty have celebrated career anniversaries. But I can’t think of any that have structured a tour around a single album in quite this way. Hell, I doubt Cyndi did it with this same album when it was new!
With that in mind, it was hard not to see the show and tour as simply cross-generational marketing to re-launch the “unusual Cyndi” brand for folks who still feel as though they don’t quite fit in (i.e. most kids and rock fans). But the simpler reality is that the first album remains the high point in the career of a tremendously talented singer who never evolved much as an artist. Hearing those songs played in the exact sequencing of the album, itself a totally anachronistic detail, and performed 30 years later with nearly the same lung power – and arrangements, was a happy reminder of her jet fueled debut. But no one in the audience seemed the least bit disappointed in the near total omission of 30 years of music that followed and that was a reminder that the success of that first album was never duplicated.
Without a doubt, Cyndi Lauper is still an unusual talent but one who is now wearing her own hand me downs.
– Derek Meade