Welcome to the musical meandering insights of Aaron Joy. Here you'll find 600 reviews of CDs & DVDs of rock & metal in all its variations, mainstream & indie. What they all share is that the album or band is unique in some way & not every submission was reviewed. Please share these reviews or link to them if you like what you read. Reviews are no longer being posted here but feel free to e-mail Aaron & post comments. (Formerly the Roman Midnight Music Blog)

Friday, August 12, 2011

DVD: Cyndi Lauper ~ Live ... At Last

(Click on heading to visit official website.)
Style: pop rock
Label: Sony Music
Year: 2004
Home: New York, New York

Concert location: The Town Hall, New York, New York
Year Recorded: 2004
Length: 112 minutes
Bonus Features: "Stay" music video, behind the scenes, alternative angles

Members: Cyndi Lauper ~ vocals/guitar/dulcimer
William Wittman ~ bass
Kat Dyson ~ guitar
Sam Merendino ~ drums
Steve Gaboury ~ keyboards/accordian
Deni Bonet ~ violin/dulcimer

Additional: Roger Squitero, Bobby Allende ~ percussion
Mitch Frohman ~ sax
Dan Reagan ~ trombone
Peter Nater ~ trumpet


Though I grew up in the era of "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" I've always loved the later more mature "It Rained All Night"/"Who Let In The Rain" era CL, one might even label the pop balladeer era. She would take that style a step further with 2003's stripped down jazz flavored At Last that set her against such classics as "La Vie En Rose", "Makin' Whoopee", "Unchained Melody" & even a duet with Tony Bennett. The result is enjoyable though at times uneven but it gives us a side to CL that never would have been allowed in her youthful funky years. The Live ... At Last DVD showcases the tour that followed & is highly recommended over the CD. She enters the stage dressed all in black, normal colored hair, with no fancy lights or wild set pieces. It's the opposite of what some might expect from CL but the outcome is incredibly intimate in a way the wild act wasn't. I'll confess it's the CL I love & this concert gives all the reasons why. The show takes the best of At Last & mixes it with greatest hits from across her career. It's hard to find fault with the set-list as its perfect for new & old fans & folks like me who prefer one era over another. CL isn't the greatest singer but her youthful looks & energy make up for it, plus she has a repertoire of just great songs hands down. It's hard to believe that she's 51 watching her dance around the stage with her own array of unchoreographed moves. The best description of the overall show might be to call it a flashier version of MTV Storytellers as CL bridges songs with her strong Queens accent telling stories of childhood. It's intimate. It's mature. It's funny. It's even cute. It's stripped-down to the bare essence of the music & the artist herself. Some of the stories are hit/miss & some songs better than others, but the improvised feel of the gig makes up for it. It's like watching a girl in a homecoming sharing her life. It's having fun long after the young wild image has been laid to rest. Where her voice limits her CL makes up for it with interesting arrangements, such as an accordian remake of "She-Bop" that is only missing a boat ride down the Danube while the 60's classic "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood" is a stripped down acoustic piano affair with haunting results & "Change Of Heart" has a violin/guitar duet right out of Riverdance. Understated & full of surprises is the key word. It's a breathe of fresh air for a girl that was always overstated & became famous heavily commercialized producer dominated studio honed music. Ironically, the weakest part of the show is the encore. "Unchained Melody" with scenes of NYC on a screen isn't very moving, but part of that has more to do with the over-saturation of the song than the performance plus it's actually quite a difficult song to sing well. It's followed by CL playing a dulcimer on her lap to "Time After Time", including a joke about changing from skirt to leather pants, joined by two women on electric guitar & violin to create an interesting arrangement ... both visually & musically. The original is still the version you'll turn to but this shows great creativity. This is followed by the required "Girls Just Want To Have Fun" with an extended calypso arrangement, including rasta singing & a horn section. It's concludes the already anti-climactic encore ... with views of the audience on the feet but not exactly dancing or clapping along & definetly not getting into the rasta party spirit as Lauper is obviously trying to do on stage to the best of her dancing ability. Early in her career Lauper tried to be a showgirl & eventually the image had to be set aside that went for inner fire over firey hair dye. In the encore she aims for the showgirl with the result being that when she lets her true colors shine she shines. But, you can't fault Lauper for continually experimenting & trying new things, which has been the hallmark of her career. If it hadn't been for experimentation there never would have been the "It Rained All Night" era I love & there never would have been that wild girl the world discovered day one.

Track listing: At Last
Stay
I Drove All Night
If You Go Away
All Through The Night
Walk On By
Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood
She-Bop
Sisters Of Avalon
Change Of Heart
True Colors
Shine
It's Hard To Be Me
Money Changes Everything
Unchained Melody
Time After Time
Girls Just Want To Have Fun




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