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A Detour in the Right Direction

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Cyndi Lauper performed at ACL Live Saturday night. Here’s what we took away.

By Niki Jones

If you’re going to see Cyndi Lauper live for the first time in your life, of course you have certain expectations. You know she’s going to be fun, and you’re sure her unique voice has held up after all these years. But nothing had prepared me for the unbelievable amount of talent and entertainment I was in for when I saw Lauper at ACL Live at the Moody Theater Saturday night.

Austin kicked off the fall leg of her current tour to promote her new album, Detour, a collection of country classics with covers of songs by Patsy Cline, Wanda Jackson and Willie Nelson, to name a few.

Lauper, decked out in leather chaps and a floor-length sheer vest over a blouse and even more leather, looked fantastic as she started the night with an exuberant “She Bop.” Her second song was one of the country classics. This is how she alternated songs throughout the night: pop classic, country cover, pop classic, country cover, all mixed with hilarious banter, observations and even some stream of consciousness—all delivered in her offbeat Queens accent. And that voice. Whether she was singing “True Colors” a cappella or belting out Patsy Cline’s “Walkin’ After Midnight,” she exhibited a huge vocal range with unbelievable power.

Lauper didn’t leave out a single one of her hits, and the country classics she chose were so recognizable and popular that it felt like a treat to hear how she had chosen to sing them. I’ve always felt strongly that a band or artist shouldn’t cover a classic song unless he or she can do it better or show a completely new take on it, and Lauper did both. She also led her band like a true musician and pro. The band was tight, consisting of a guitar, bass, drums, pedal steel, keyboards and backing vocalist.

There is something truly special about Lauper’s personality that comes through and connects with each and every attendee. There’s a warmth and honesty and a sense of caring mixed with a huge amount of humor, self-deprecation and absolute fun.

So gracious an entertainer is Lauper that she invited the opening act—Texas female solo artist Sarah Jaffe—onstage for the encore performance of “Girls Just Want to Have Fun,” and told her to sing it, even shushing the audience so that Jaffe’s lovely voice could be heard.

I wouldn’t call this tour a comeback, as I can’t imagine there was ever any period of time that Cyndi Lauper wasn’t relevant, but Saturday night, she proved she wasn’t just an ’80s star. She’s a super-power megastar, and I can’t wait to see her again.

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