Cyndi Lauper Honors Prince, Orlando Victims at South Florida Concert

In terms of animal comparisons, Cyndi Lauper would best be categorized as a chameleon considering the way she’s adapted and changed her sound over the last few years. However, as far as personality goes, she’s a leopard — a leopard who doesn’t change her spots or give a damn what people think.

Lauper stopped at Mizner Park Amphitheater in Boca Raton Saturday night to promote her latest record, Detour. It’s an apt title, since it’s a country record. Yes, you read correctly: country. It isn’t the first time the 62-year-old new wave songstress has changed course musically. In 2008 she released Bring Ya to the Brink, a full-blown EDM record, and in 2010 she had the number-one bestselling blues album, Memphis Blues.

It might seem odd to those who haven’t followed her career since the '80s, when the pink-haired Queens native was writing catchy and earnest pop songs. That being said, she’s excelled in every new direction she’s taken and her show this past weekend was a testament to that.

For starters, Lauper still has the pipes to nail every note. There are 20-something-year-old singers out there who aren’t half as talented. Her sometimes raspy, smoky voice lends itself well to the country-Western she’s embraced, as evidenced by the number of classic covers she performed. Wanda Jackson’s “Funnel of Love,” Ray Price’s “Heartaches by the Number,” and “Walking After Midnight” by Patsy Cline, one of Lauper’s personal heroes, all made it into the set. 

Between songs, Lauper told stories, like older New Yorkers tend to do, and these were just as entertaining as the music. She excitedly told the crowd about her switch to Sire records and how it was the fault of the accountants, how she grew up watching Western serials as a kid, and about the natural move of going back to her country, folk, and rockabilly roots. She did all this while punctuating her anecdotes with swear words and adorable quips, sometimes directing them at individual audience members.

Despite reaching back into her childhood for the new album, Lauper is still punk rock; clad in all black, leather pants, and long, bushy, neon-pink hair, she gave off that cocky-but-humble, rough-but-sweet vibe that she’s known and loved for.
 Indeed, the crowd showed that same affection. It was an interesting mix of retirement age snowbirds and gay and lesbian couples, but then that’s the beauty of an artist like Cyndi Lauper; she bridges generations and cultural backgrounds with the air of someone that can’t be bothered with silly stereotypes. She exhibited that attitude with her story prior to covering Patsy Montana’s “I Want to Be a Cowboy’s Sweetheart.” Reminiscing about watching the late '50s/early '60s TV show Queen for a Day with her nana, Lauper lamented the intrinsic problem with the program that treated housewives like queens before rewarding them with appliances at the end of the show. 

“I’d cry too,” she joked, “if they made me queen for a day and then made me do laundry. That’s a dirty trick.” Then she brought out a pony stick and it was no weirder than anything she’s ever done before because, you know, it’s her.

Of course, she interspersed her new (old) material with classics such as “I Drove All Night,” “She Bop,” and her favorite Prince song, “When You Were Mine.” As a matter of fact, the Prince number was a turning point in the show. Early on the energy was lacking. The humidity was almost overwhelming for an outdoor event held at night. It was a seated concert, with reserved lawn chairs for each ticket holder. Spotting the landscape were a few Lauper clones dressed in their own version of the singer in her '80s heyday, but otherwise, it was a rather tame affair. Until Prince woke them up.

Lauper dedicated the song not just to the late artist, but also to The Voice singer Christina Grimmie, who unfortunately wasn’t the only poor soul murdered in Orlando this weekend, but that tragedy hadn’t yet overtaken us. We were still coping with the first, and between the somber speech and the upbeat tune, the limp audience stood at attention and remembered that they were here to have fun.

The encore really helped as well, as Lauper performed the three songs that most everyone paid admission to see: “Time After Time,” “Girls Just Want to Have Fun,” and a lovely acoustic solo version of “True Colors.” “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” was perhaps the best of the bunch, since she brought out her openers, the Peach Kings, an engaged-to-be-wed indie-rock duo from California, to duet with her. She let guitarist Steven Dies and vocalist Paige Wood take the first verse, their interpretation a gorgeous and haunting one, before having the entire band join in for a big, badass jamboree that had all of Boca out of their seats.Cyndi Lauper famously sang about girls wanting to have fun. At this stage in her life, not only is she doing that, but also indulging in all her childhood dreams of joining Cline and all the late singer’s contemporaries and being whoever she wants to be at any given time. 
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Angel Melendez is an unabashed geek and a massive music nerd who happens to write words (and occasionally take photos) for Miami New Times. A graduate of Florida Atlantic University and an accomplished failure at two other universities, Angel is a lush and an insufferable know-it-all, and has way better taste in music than you. His wealth of useless knowledge concerning bands, film, and Batman is matched only by his embarrassingly large collection of Hawaiian shirts and onesies.
Contact: Angel Melendez