Is This Really Cyndi? Just Listen

Make just a few, slight changes–oh, add a Laura Ashley dress, tone down the lipstick–and Cyndi Lauper could walk unnoticed through the sedate hallways of Hartford’s insurance giants.

The new-look Lauper–the short, straight cut of her auburn hair, a loose-fitting black outfit–was a sight to behold as she frenetically danced near an old poster of herself Tuesday night at Toad’s Place.

No more tangerine hair, no more bracelets up to her elbows, no more eyeglasses borrowed from Grandma. And thank goodness, no more wrestlers.

But her strongest asset–her astounding voice–remains, and Lauper used it well Tuesday as she cruised through a generous, energized two hour set.

Slowly edging toward the front of the stage, Lauper and her five-piece band opened with several percussion-heavy numbers that featured a Latin flair.

The new tunes can be heard on an upcoming album, which the 37-year old New Yorker, from the Queens neighborhood of Ozone Park, said could be released in May.

She dropped a solid “I Drove All Night” into the segment and, backed by two drummers, took command of the stage.

Overloaded with musical zeal, the band jammed as she bopped back and forth at a ferocious pace that must require pre-concert carbo-loading.

Pit-stopping for a towel and bottled-water break, Lauper offered a slower version of “All Through the Night” before a slightly chaotic “Boy Blue.” While the music teamwork was well orchestrated, the song featured a few unneeded primal screams from Lauper.

From there on, however, Lauper and bandmates offered a range of tunes that should propel them to even wider audiences. Her bouncy, sweet vocals glided through a cover of Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On ?”

Pausing to ask in her trademark voice, “What note, babe?” Lauper then took up the New Orleans standard, “Iko, Iko.” Using what looked like kitchen forks, Lauper played a metallic washboard hung from her neck.

From that easy, crowd-swaying tune, they were ready to rock. Lead by an empowering bass performance, the band shined through “Dancing With a Stranger,” with Lauper, clutching a pink tambourine, bopping all over the place.
More frenetic bopping followed, naturally, during “She Bop,” as well as “Yeah, Yeah.”

Lauper slowed for the deftly delivered ballad “Unconditional Love,” sometimes closing her eyes to concentrate as she sang. She immediately resumed the pace of powerful, tension-laced rock tunes, including the mega-hit, “Money Changes Everything,” which closed the set.

By placing the songs so close together, Lauper displayed the impressive versatility of her voice and her stage presence.

Through two encores, Lauper and her bandmates offered six more tunes, including, “Time After Time,” “Hole in My Heart (All the Way to China),” “Girls Just Want to Have Fun,” and “True Colors.”

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