Girls just want to have fun

The West Australian
Cyndi Lauper performs at Kings Park.
Camera IconCyndi Lauper performs at Kings Park.

Cyndi Lauper and Blondie

Kings Park Day On The Green

Review Ray Chan

The crowds turned up early for this spectacle at Kings Park, but with all due respect to the opening acts of Alex Lahey and long-running Sydney band The Clouds, it was simply to snag a parking space and find the best seats possible on the picturesque grounds.

Most were prepared to wait three hours before experiencing what they really came to see: the American dynamic duo of iconic band Blondie and wacky wild child Cyndi Lauper.

Such was their influence on popular music that many of the 6000-strong audience flew in or drove up from regional areas to party with the city slickers, and they were not disappointed.

The 71-year-old Deborah Harry got the main presentation under way with two early Blondie trademarks, One Way or Another and Hanging On The Telephone. Harry certainly doesn’t look her age, and did well to bop around and hold a tune, despite the occasional stumble.

Interestingly, apart from Harry, two of the original band members were also present on stage: founding guitarist Chris Stein (who wrote many of Blondie’s hits) and the talented Clem Burke on drums.

Blondie have never forgotten how they owe their fame to Australia, having been discovered while debuting In The Flesh on Countdown. The song was played against the backdrop of that TV performance, which portrayed a young Harry, Stein and Burke during their new wave era.

The golden oldies flowed on, Harry not missing a beat on the lyrics to Rapture, one of the earliest rap tunes to make the charts, which then seamed into a surprise rendition of the Beastie Boys’ Fight For Your Right To Party.

Interspersed with the familiar songs were six new ones from their soon-to-be-released album Pollinator, dedicated to the preservation of honey bees. Playing fresh songs can be a risky decision for any band, but the gamble paid off as the crowds showed appreciation and no signs of restlessness; indeed, a couple of the new offerings would make worthy additions to the Blondie catalogue of hits.

The finale of Heart of Glass was a true highlight, prompting a racuous singalong, capped off by their rendition of Dreaming in the encore, and getting the fans well and truly buzzed up for the appearance of Lauper.

It’s strange to think of the eccentric Queens-accented singer as anything more than the fresh-faced pop star with frizzy coloured hair who gave us the She’s So Unusual album, yet here she was in her 60s, belting out the songs in the characteristic high-pitched timbre that seemed unaffected by the years.

It’s fair to say that while Blondie secured more chart hits overall but played only a smattering in their set, Lauper produced just about her entire repertoire of chart successes on the night, delighting one and all.

From I Drove All Night and She Bop to Time After Time and True Colours, Lauper gave her all on each song, oft times messing with the arrangements to create a fresher sound, exemplified best on a showstopping version of Money Changes Everything. There was even the inclusion of the theme song from cult movie favourite The Goonies, which Lauper co-wrote.

The artist also showcased her skills at tackling different genres by performing several numbers from her recent album of country covers, including Patsy Cline’s Walking After Midnight and Skeeter Davies’ End Of The World. But it’s the pop sound Lauper is most renowned for, and the song they all came to hear, Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, was performed with suitable gusto, with thousands of happy little feet stamping their appreciation on the green.

In short, while Blondie had the crowd in raptures, Lauper just wanted to have fun, both acts ensuring everyone went home on a high.

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