Cyndi Lauper, Hunter Valentine House of Blues June 28, 2013
Seeing Cyndi Lauper live in concert on Pride Weekend is like seeing a unicorn in its natural habitat. It's colorful and surreal and makes everyone feel extremely special. Celebrating the 30-year anniversary of her debut album She's So Unusual, Lauper played to a sold-out audience Friday night at House of Blues.
Her magic did not disappoint her fans.
Opening group Hunter Valentine started right on time and were, overall, just okay. The group looked like some badass rock chicks: lead singer Kiyomi McClosky could be a body double for Joan Jett; guitarist Aimee Bessada was flexing some major Patti Smith realness. However, the music wasn't quite as inspired.
The group themselves are all formidable musicians; sadly, most of the songs sounded much the same. One I did like reminded me of Concrete Blonde's "Joey." McClosky has a nice scream on her, though, which livened up the set a bit. The group's sound just needed a bit more diversity.
It's a great sign when the crowd is singing all the music played between bands. To get everyone hyped up for Cyndi, House of Blues played a good mix of '80s and '90s songs, such as Simple Minds' "Don't You Forget About Me" and 4 Non Blondes' "What's Up." I've never seen people sing so loudly to pre-show music.
Lauper took the stage at 9:08 p.m., wearing getup that could only make sense on her -- very The Matrix meets Medusa as inspired by Lucille Ball. She walked to the microphone and simply stated, "Well, this is the She's So Unusual tour, so..." and went straight into "Money Changes Everything," the first song off of her now-classic album. The crowd response was awesome: lots of singing, dancing, and energy. Lauper's high notes were rang clear throughout the song -- which, like most of her songs, was chock full of soprano gymnastics.
She continued to play the 1983 album in its exact order, much to her fans' delight. "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun," a ringer for the album version with just enough of a spin that it still felt new, elicited a predictably huge response.
The thing about Cyndi Lauper is that she really is so unusual, and unlike so many of today's supposed "unusual" people, her oddity is not at all contrived. The way she dances looks exactly the same as it did back when MTV still played videos. Her spastic arm movements and hopping are almost as famous as the songs themselves, and when she moves like this, it's completely organic.
After "Girls" came the Prince-penned "When You Were Mine." Lauper's voice has aged, which was a bit more apparent by this time. However, she's a smart artist and knows how to compensate for this. She adds so much artistry -- trills and fascinating combinations of falsetto and vibrato -- that the weaker spots aren't nearly as noticeable. She also deserves a lot of credit for still attempting to hit each and every one of these high notes, as opposed to other artists of her generation who now abandon them altogether.