Concert review: Cyndi Lauper brings the blues to Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater

Every once in awhile, she'd launch into awkward rambling stories, only a few of them even slightly related to the song she'd finished or was about to begin, but it worked for her and even made her seem more endearing.

She played lap guitar for a few songs, and after an hour-long intense blues session where she played nearly the entirety of her album, including, “Early in the Morning,” “Shattered Dreams,” “Down Don’t Bother Me,” and “Crossroads,” she closed the blues set, said goodnight and left the stage.

She was beckoned back because she hadn’t played her hits yet. I was surprised that she didn’t throw them into the blues set here and there, but I knew she couldn’t truly end the evening without playing “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun!” She came back out on stage, kicked off her shoes and sbegan the encore with “Change of Heart,” and then grooved into a swingy version of “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun,” followed by “Time After Time,” and some more lap guitar action.

David Rhodes joined Lauper and her band in a slowed-down bluesy version of “She-Bop.” She concluded with Memphis Slim’s, “Mother Earth,” bowed with her band and said another goodnight to her fans. I knew a second encore was on the horizon and after a few minutes and plenty of screams, hoots and hollers, she returned to close the show with “True Colors,” throwing a “Power to the People” chant into her grand finale.

It was a great evening. Cyndi Lauper surprised me with her love of the blues but she rocked it. She made up for the moments she became a little too preachy and stumbling with her solid music selections, positivity and amazing energy. Watching her in action amidst all her die-hard fans was quite a memorable experience.

More pics by Tracy:


Eighties pop icon Cyndi Lauper returned to Clearwater’s 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 Lauper’s 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 wasn’t 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 Lauper’s 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 she’d 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.


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