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Cyndi Lauper's "Unusual" charm shines at Mill City Nights

Posted by: Chris Riemenschneider under Music Updated: October 31, 2013 - 9:48 AM

“Technical difficulties,” as the grand dame of the ball put it, proved to be one of the best things to happen in Wednesday night’s Cyndi Lauper concert at Mill City Nights. After the first three songs of the night – three of the biggest she would sing all night – the ‘80s star was forced to stop due to a lack of guitar and other sonic problems. The glitches, however, forced her to show off one of her greatest attributes: her gift of gab.

“We had places – scenes – back [in the ‘80s], and you had one here in which Prince was very much a leader,” Lauper said after delivering her version of “When You Were Mine,” one of the Minneapolis Sound’s first big hits. “It was the era just before the suits walked in and tried to make everything sound the same.”

Sporting dreadlocks with bright tones of red and pink and wearing black leather pants and a matching corset, Lauper, 60, went on a terrific riff about the moment-in-time circumstances behind her 1983 debut album, “She’s So Unusual,” which she performed in its entirety Wednesday to mark its 30th anniversary (the current tour was supposed to be for a new record, but she confessed she didn’t finish it in time).

She recounted the recording sessions at New York’s legendary Record Plant studio with members of the Hooters for backers: “This album was made in a real recording studio, which you don’t really see anymore, and it came out on vinyl – which sounded great,” she bragged, summing up the era: “It was a great time to make a record.”

After expounding on the inspirations behind the songs for another few minutes, she then launched into “Time After Time” and finished the rest of “Unusual” with the near-capacity crowd drunk on nostalgia (and with the guitar finally audible). Her vocals lacked the bright, in-your-face pop as on the record, but Lauper certainly didn’t lack her old showmanship, writhing on the floor during “Money Changes Everything” and blowing out notes through a recorder in “She-Bop.”

After finishing the album and returning for the encore, she told more great stories about meeting her current husband (a set-up for “Hat Full of Stars”) and reinventing her career post-pop-stardom. She showed off her latest reinvention by singing “Sex Is in the Heel,” one of the songs she composed for the Tony-winning Broadway musical “Kinky Boots.” That, too, provided some of her best lines of the night.

“Can you believe I have the balls to sing this with my combat boots on?” she cracked. “But they do have a glitter on them.”

Here’s the full set list:

Money Changes Everything / Girls Just Want to Have Fun / When You Were Mine / Time After Time / She Bop / All Through the Night / Witness / I'll Kiss You / He's So Unusual / Yeah Yeah  ENCORE: The Goonies 'R' Good Enough / Sex Is in the Heel / Shine / Hat Full of Stars / True Colors

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