Eighties pop icon Cyndi Lauper returned to Clearwaters Ruth Eckerd Hall two years after introducing a new sound, new hit album and new hair, too. This past Wednesday August 4, the hall was packed with Lauper fans, some decked out in ensembles that rivaled Laupers own flamboyant fashion sense. [All photos by Tracy May.]
Singer-songwriter David Rhodes opened the show, rocking out some electric blues with his guitar and laptop, and delivering lyrics in a strong wail, somewhat like a rougher version of David Gray's. Although he wasnt lacking talent, he was anything but a crowd pleaser. I overheard grumbing and complaints during his harsh guitar strums, and I saw some of Lauper's older fans cringing and holding their ears. I could appreciate what he was trying to do, but all of his efforts fell flat with this audience.
Cyndi Laupers stage set-up was simple and clean. No huge backdrops, LCD screens, crazy props or army of instruments for this gal. Lauper was backed by a guitarist, bass player, drummer, keyboardist and an organist, taking the stage with bright red hair reminiscent of The Simpsons' Sideshow Bob and a black, lacy translucent jacket-dress over a 1950s-style blue leopard-print bathing suit.
Lauper immediately thanked her fans for the success of Memphis Blues, her latest album, and said she'd be playing the blues for us. Just Your Fool was her opener and she danced around that stage like she was 20 again, putting all her passion and amped-up energy into the song.
I was surprised at how well Lauper rocked the blues. It seems like those pipes of hers are even stronger than they were 20 years ago. And for such low key music, she was still able to keep it upbeat. She said herself, The best thing about the blues is it's uplifting. She also claimed that shed been dreaming about making a blues album for years but had to earn it. Now I can do whatever the hell I want! she stated. At Ruth Eckerd that night, she most certainly proved she could.