On Oct. 27, 2013, Cyndi Lauper played at Toronto’s Massey Hall, just one of the many times she’s visited the city. Except this time, it wasn’t for Pride, but an autumn show where fans of all ages still turned the Hall into one big discotheque.
Having been a singer, actress and LGBT rights activist for the greater part of her life, it wasn’t surprising to see fans from all ends of the human spectrum turn out in droves, cheer enthusiastically, and show their appreciation by dancing energetically for each song, even those in the upper right balcony. And for good reason, too: Lauper has been one of the most vocal entertainers and activists throughout her career, never hesitating to back down from a fight whether it’s on someone else’s behalf or her own.
Lauper is the type of entertainer who just doesn’t beat around the bush, such as not saving her hit songs until the end and diving into “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” after the first one and “Time after Time” a couple later. At 60, her voice doesn’t have the same range that it used to and some of the notes were a bit pitchy, but she danced better than someone half her age and kept the show rolling more disciplined than a German train. But despite how age limits a voice, Lauper sang her heart out, holding onto notes that would make any non-smoker envious and going after high notes with gusto. She has a very distinctive voice and showed no fear with high notes and sustained notes, two of the first to go with a singer as she gets older.
After a few songs, she paused to talk to the audience and tell them stories of the little things that make listening to a song more personal, such as how she wore a badge that read “Nearly Famous” when penning the lyrics to “Time after Time”, or how the lyrics The second hand unwinds were taken from her studio recorder’s watch breaking down.
She also shared tidbits about her song “She Bop”, explaining how she was inspired by Yoko Ono and wanted to inject a certain je ne sais quoi into it. Lauper decided being shirtless would help matters and sat there, singing, but felt it wasn’t enough and tickled herself in the ribs to make herself laugh.
However, her salty side came out more than once and it put a rather unpleasant tint on what should have been a fun show. Before Lauper came onstage, ushers warned people that Lauper had specifically requested no photos and videos were to be taken, but one fan broke the rules during the show. Instead of gently reprimanding the fan, Lauper pulled a mini-Beyonce, repeatedly using expletives both in her speech and at the fan, and threatening to take their camera away. The audience laughed and cheered, but the whole affair left a slightly bitter taste in some fans’ mouths. It didn’t help matters that Lauper actually took his camera away, and, unrelatedly, he ended up passing out later on in the show.
But for a Sunday night in October, it wasn’t the best or worst way to spend the evening, and even fun at times.