Cyndi Lauper’s tiny frame holds both a big voice and a big heart.
The 54-year-old New Yorker brought her second annual True Colors tour for human rights to the Molson Amphitheatre on Wednesday night with Toronto critical darlings The Cliks, Indigo Girls, The B-52s and TV personalities Carson Kressley (Queer Eye) and Rosie O’Donnell also on the bill.
Lauper is doing her best to stamp out discrimation against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people and part of the proceeds from the festival are going towards Egale Canada’s Safe Schools Campaign.
In other words, spiritually and musically, Lauper had it covered. She opened her hour-long set by climbing the stairs to the top of a fake Statue of Liberty torch singing her old hit Change Of Heart, backed by her five-piece band, and wasted no time getting the crowd to stand on top of their seats in a singalong.
By the next tune, Rocking Chair, from her dance-happy new album, Bring Ya to the Brink, she was joined by O’Donnell, who sang backup, with the onetime talk-show host later returning to play percussion during Girls Just Wanna Have Fun (Sheila E., your job is safe) and again as part of the final all-star performances of Everyday People and True Colors.
Truth be told, Lauper’s new tunes, including Set Your Heart and Into the Nightlife, came across better than some of her older hits like She Bop, whose lyrics she screwed up as she concentrated on playing guitar.
Still, the undisputed standouts of the night were her passionate renderings of Roy Orbison’s I Drove All Night, her own Time After Time — with Lauper on dulcimer — and a duet with Cliks transgendered lead singer Lucas Silveira (formerly Lilia) on Money Changes Everything, which saw the two singers rolling around on stage together.
Otherwise, giving Lauper a run for her money in the entertainment department was the newly revitalized B-52s, who are touring in support of their first studio record in 16 years, Funplex, and it’s a doozy.
Such new fun dance songs as Pump, Ultraviolet, Juliet of the Spirits, Hot Corner, Love in the Year 3000, and the title track stood up nicely alongside older chesnuts Your Own Private Idaho, Roam, Love Shack and Rock Lobster and people were mostly on their feet shaking their hips.
Frankly, it was hard not to.
“We’re a dance band — we don’t mind,” frontman Fred Schneider said dryly when people were seated too long for his liking.
Singers Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson were in great harmony and they made up for the lack of beehive wigs with glamourous attire and first-rate dance moves while Schneider — aka the Paul Lynde of New Wave — and guitarist Keith Strickland didn’t disappoint in the slightest.
Kressley filled in nicely as emcee between musical sets and O’Donnell, who told the audience she’s been a full-time mom since leaving The View in the midst of some headline-making drama a year ago, delivered both a funny and poignant half-hour of comedy as she talked about her children, losing her mother to cancer when she was only 11, and her burgeoning homosexuality as a teen.
True Colors Tour
Sun Rating: 4 out of 5 stars