Cyndi Lauper & Blondie, A Day On The Green @ Kings Park & Botanic Garden – 12/04/17 (Live Review)
There were a lot of women at the Cyndi Lauper & Blondie double header concert, with a crackling sense of girl power coursed through the crowd. Both women wrote hefty chapters in book of 70s and 80s rock and pop, with Debbie Harry’s smouldering street cat fierceness and Lauper’s quirky kaleidoscopic aesthetic they represent two differing but no less compelling facets of femininity in music. Backed by current alternative darling Alex Lahey, and 90s indie rock band Sydney’s The Clouds the lineup was a cracker as soon as the gates opened.
Throughout the tour Blondie and Cyndi Lauper have been rotating the last spot with Lauper this time closing out the Australian tour. Upon various discussions when leaving the grounds it appeared the consensus was that Lauper landed the right spot being the stronger of the two. Blondie put in an entertaining measured performance but it was hard to not fall for the charms of Lauper’s spunky vagabond.
Debbie Harry in black glasses, sequinned sneakers, an apron emblazoned with “Stop Fucking The Planet”, and a crown of two huge bumble bees (a not so subtle nod to their new album Pollinator), led the band through hit after hit. Starting with the smart-mouthed One Way Or Another, it was noticeable that Harry would need a few songs to warm up vocally and with the crowd. Through Hanging On The Telephone and Call Me the group finally found its groove.
New songs from 2017’s Pollinator were interspersed through the set with mixed results. With an undercurrent of electronic beats Longtime was somewhat predictable, and the Ronnie Toast dedicated Fun was innocuous but did live up to its name. However the group shone most brightly when it got back to its messy rock roots, even lending itself to a raucous rendition of the Beastie Boys’ Fight For Your Right.
Rapture with its slick 80s production missed the horns and Harry’s drifting falsetto but it was a sight to see Harry launch herself into the rap breakdown albeit with only a few hiccups. But it didn’t really matter because people seemed to just want to immerse themselves in the experience of hearing classics like Atomic and Heart Of Glass.
Under a full moon Lauper, wearing a pink wig, top hat, leopard pants and gripping a vintage suitcase came out like Stevie Nick’s wayward tomboy little sister. Starting with a lopping Wanda Jackson song Funnel of Love it let everyone know that the singer intended to keep it interesting. From that rockabilly first song to the electro-pop of 1983’s She Bop to the sweeping pop grandeur of I Drove All Night, it kept a crowd dazzled even if they weren’t familiar with the songs.
There is no denying the charm of Lauper either. From recalling a memory of performing in front of the “mosquito pond” to telling stories about hotel rooms and Dolly Parton- her banter, and unique piquant Queens accent, was as much an element of the show as the setlist. Backed by a solid band and with her unfaltering voice the nostalgia dial was turned up for The Goonies ‘R’ Good Enough but it really was the encore everybody was waiting for.
Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, sometimes disregarded as cheesy mindless pop only to be danced at weddings and work parties, is in actual fact the defiant rebel yell of every young girl who danced in their bedrooms dreaming of their independence. Those young girls have grown up since then but their love for this song, Time After Time, and True Colours continues unabated. In what was one of the most touching and personable encores encountered Lauper ditched her dulcimer after the first chorus of True Colours to sing acapella alongside the voices of thousands of fans; some hugging, others crying, most just happy to be there. It was spine tingling stuff, marking the end of a gloriously fun night featuring several incredibly strong and talented women.