Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Cyndi Sings Supreme as the Rainy Boy Sleeps

Cyndi Lauper at Birmingham Symphony Hall with support from Rainy Boy Sleep - 26/06/2011 - A Review.

Okay then, continuing the reviews of 2011 gigs. Although I seem to have found myself somewhat heavily involved in a lot of new music from more recently formed bands and artists on the independent music scene, I do have some really big old favourites on my list. Led Zeppelin, The Doors, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon feature amongst the many but even a bit of Cyndi Lauper finds herself in their company. What a crazy chick she is. I’ll admit she isn’t an artist I’ve ever really followed (The Goonies are Good Enough aside – fun fact for you here, did you know Cyndi Lauper was asked to produce the entire soundtrack for The Goonies? You can woo your pub quiz team with that little nugget now can’t you?) , but I’m grateful for the experience I had at the gig on this tour last year.

I’m not sure what I was expecting from her show to be honest but I had a truly amazing night of musical splendour. What came across so blatantly was how incredibly talented she is and how the maturity marking her performances offers something the likes of Kylie and Madonna never do, nor do I think they ever could or will.

The support act was quite literally a one man band; Rainy Boy Sleep (real name Steve Martin) used his eclectic vocal skills to record percussion and other sounds using his guitar, then playing them back while adding the main vocals. It really is something special to both watch and listen to. A young guy from Derry, Northern Ireland he appeared a little shy as he spoke to the audience in between songs although when actually performing, these nerves didn’t show in the slightest. As soon as he’d finished introducing the song, the very first moment of sound produced, be it from his vocally rendered percussion or the guitar, the nerves were vanquished. I say nerves but it’s more like the nervous energy prior to performing. The kind that actually helps with how amazing the performance can be, and in this case truly was.

His voice has a serene sounding quality to it, amplified beautifully at the Symphony Hall in Birmingham. From the seemingly oddly titled but truly quite wonderful Shopping Centre Song to the atmospheric tones of Your Face and the strikingly resonant Yours Truly there is a welcome depth to the lyrics on offer here in addition to the skilled musicianship.

His brother was selling home-made CDs in the foyer, with which my only disappointment was there only being three tracks on them.  After such a great performance I already wanted a full album so I could put it endlessly on repeat. Rainy Boy Sleep has gone on to support James Morrison on his recent tour earlier this year, so he is receiving a decent amount of widespread exposure and all the very best to him. My only issue with this is purely selfish I admit in that I’ve not been able to afford to see him again. Of course, I wouldn’t think anything of paying the price for another artist’s show just to catch this guy play again. James Morrison is a top talent too and one I would like to see but these are tough financial times and with no pay rise yet again funds can get a little stretched.

The Shopping Centre Song EP is currently available on iTunes so check it out and bag the marvellous treat before he hits the big time so you're sure to have had a slice of him pre-mania. You can also purchase it here. A talent this promising is not one to miss and I cannot wait until he gets his own headlining show, a wait I’m sure won’t be too long and one fully worth it. He also recently announced on his facebook page he will soon be releasing a follow up EP which has rendered my ears as excited as a puppy anticipating a new bone or squeaky toy. They’re salivating so much I may soon be in danger of drowning if I don’t hear this new stuff soon.

He can be found gigging almost ceaselessly even when he’s not on a tour supporting some big name so keep up to date on his page for future dates. He will be appearing at Cornbury Festival in Oxfordshire but see below for a current list of forthcoming dates.

31st May - Love And Death, Belfast
23rd June - Westport Festival Of Music & Performing Arts
24th June - Millennium Forum, Derry w/ Ray Davies
30th June - Cornbury Festival, Oxfordshire

Time For Girls To Have Some Fun (and boys too) 

There’s little doubt Cyndi Lauper is one crazy chick and she puts on one heck of a fantastic show. Her vocals are incredibly strong and flawless after all these years. If her vocal abilities could be siphoned into large barrels I’ve little doubt letting them out around collapsing buildings or bridges would offer the support needed to avert complete disaster.

Showcasing her latest bluesy album, Memphis Blues, this wasn’t what I’d gone along to hear but I admit the performances of these songs with her band were faultless. While you may not necessarily associate her voice with the genre, I can tell you that live it sounds like a perfect fit. Cynders and the glass slipper kind of perfect fit, ironically. The live set up really does the new material the justice it deserves and that can sometimes be lacking with recorded versions. Yet this isn’t an isolated incident and something which affects many artists. The live versions of the new songs were more than enough to entice my dwindling cash reserves from my pockets (they’re not exactly deep, more the funds are lacking) and exchange it for a CD.

The camaraderie she displayed with the band onstage was infectious and delightful to watch. As were the myriad of tales and asides she shared with the audience. If she’s never done an audience with then ITV should get on the phone right away because I cannot see it being anything other than a ratings hit (if you do this ITV please remember who suggested it. Ah, who am I kidding? This is the channel (although let’s face it, one of many,) that was totally fleecing people with its phone-in numbers. Seriously, why do people fall for these things? Yet even now there exist more or less the same amount of these phone-in shows as before. Will people ever learn? Okay, perhaps an issue to cover elsewhere).

A lot of fans probably do go to hear the classics but her contemporary work shouldn’t be and isn’t overshadowed by these. She belted out the bluesy numbers with a star quality that outperforms her contemporaries so much so if they were in an actual live sing-off, she’d win hands down. It was also crystal clear how much she was relishing the opportunity to do the same with the classic hits. Her superiority wouldn’t just put her competitors to shame, the tranquil yet vociferous decibels she emits are powerful enough to force them into deep space or bury them as deep underground as they can get, short of reaching the earth’s core.

About a minute into singing out Shine, Cyndi even climbed down off the stage and danced her way up the aisle with the audience rising from their seats as if welcoming a Queen. Some excited fans stretched out their arms and extending her love she touched those she could reach before holding on to one lucky guy for almost a minute before turning round and heading back to the stage. At one point she was about two feet away from me which perhaps shouldn’t be so exciting but I don’t feel the slightest bit sad to say how much it was. There was no fainting, no pushing or shoving or any negativity of any kind. No bouncers pushing fans out of the way although they did follow closely behind her, naturally.

A real treat for me and a song I wasn’t expecting to hear was Goonies Are Good Enough. As she stood up there dancing from one end of the stage to the other (I wish I had her energy I have to admit) I closed my eyes. Opening them again I was nine years old and inside the TV set in the living room of that house in the Goonies as she sang it out in the movie. Time was reversed; this is the power she has over people.

Each time the Appalachian dulcimer was bought out on stage you knew something very special was imminent. With the band playing in the background Cyndi strummed her heart out as she sang along to classic All Through the Night at the end of which she induced a trance-like state upon the crowd with a melodious near operatic climax. It was goosebump inducing! This was followed up with an intimate rendition of Time After Time after telling a lengthy story about her crazy grandmother.

Showing off her agile abilities by jumping and dancing her way from one end of the stage to the other while belting out Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, you would be completely forgiven for thinking it was actually1983.

Cyndi demonstrated her devout passion for equality and freedom for all with a final farewell message of love which included a special mention for all the beautiful people in attendance who she wished every success. She then went on to finish the encore with a delicate acoustic version of True Colours to which people sang along to from beginning to end.

After such a wonderful evening of great live music from such a beautiful and talented legend, I highly recommend her shows to anyone. I’d happily sit and listen to her talk about what it was like for her growing up, how she got into the music business and the things she’s done, it was pure gold. She deserves all the continued success that comes her way for she’s truly earned it.

I’ve read rumours Cyndi is to release her memoir in the future and while biography is one genre I rarely read, I wouldn’t miss this for the world. If all the stories she manages to tell during just one night at a gig are any indication, I feel this may be a book house spiders will fear. I can almost hear their many legs trembling at the prospect. One thing is for sure, this girl doesn’t just want to have fun; she is still having it after all these years.

Band of Badgers Presents #3 Update: 

I am just waiting for the arrival of my new rather expensive (but much needed) top quality microphone before I can record the next episode. It is all ready and waiting but as this will be a test recording for potential internet radio play it has to be perfect. My waffle will remain of course but I have to contain the podcast to about 58 minutes so I foresee achy fingers after much editing. It will be totally worth it though. I have a great playlist coming up for you and am already working on #4. I hope you'll enjoy it.

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