Sounds of Oz review of Casey Donovan supporting Cyndi Lauper at Sydney State Theatre

This review’s coming a little late by my standards, but I figured this is one of those articles best written once the high’s faded a little. If I’d sat down on Friday I’m not sure I could have written more than “I love Cyndi Lauper so much!” Even now I’m not really convinced I’ve got the necessary objectivity, but I’m going to try.

On Thursday night I made a pilgrimage to Sydney’s State Theatre to see one of my idols, Cyndi Lauper. Like many women of a certain age, I’ve been dazzled by Cyndi for as long as I can remember. In a musical landscape that is so often beige and homogenised, she’s always been a rainbow of color, fierce and fabulous. My expectations for her live show were sky high, but I’m thrilled to say she met every one.

But before she graced us with her presence it was Casey Donovan’s turn to charm us. I’ve been a fan of Casey’s since her Australian Idol days, and I was thrilled to see she’s only gotten better. Accompanied by a single acoustic guitar she delivered a stunning stripped back mix of covers and original material. Casey’s always been a master at delivering a song, but I’m thrilled to see her stage presence now matching her delivery. She’s come a long way from the quiet teen that wowed us in Idol. She bantered easily with the crowd between songs, charming us even more with her confidence. I was desperate to see Cyndi, but also disappointed to see her all too short set end.

I couldn’t be upset for too long though, because I was finally going to see Cyndi. The years certainly have not wearied this 80s icon. She bounced around the stage, dancing with wild abandon, a compelling figure with a shock of peroxide hair clad in black leather. From the first few songs we realised this show would be packed with songs from her Memphis Blues CD. I’m often put out when it seems an artist only wants to spruik their new material, but here it made perfect sense. I’ve never seen a supporting band as good as Cyndi’s. These guys are blues masters every one of them, and I wanted to hear the tunes that would show off that talent. Special mention must go to Charlie Musselwhite who blew my mind on harmonica.

Cyndi still played those songs we were desperate to hear though. It couldn’t be a Cyndi Lauper concert without a cheeky singalong in “She Bop,” a raucous extended version of “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun,” or poignant moments with “All Through the Night,” “Time After Time” and “True Colors.”

The mix of classic blues and retro pop was unusual, but that’s just what Cyndi’s always been. She’s a true musical artist who’s always rebelliously marched to the beat of her own drum. And in Sydney she performed her pants off, dancing about and jumping off the stage several times to be a bit closer to her adoring fans. How she could sing so flawlessly while delivering such an energetic show I’ll never know, but she did that too. She might be an 80s icon, but with this Memphis Blues album Cyndi’s shown her star certainly isn’t fading. It was incredible to bask in a little of that light for a while. Thank you Cyndi Lauper for one of the most enjoyable concerts I’ve ever witnesses.



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