Cyndi Lauper "Memphis Blues Tour" | Auditorium Parco della Musica | 11 July, 2011

Cyndi Lauper on stage in Rome
 Of all the artists lined up to appear during this season's Luglio Suona Bene, the annual open air summer concert programme in the Cavea at the Auditorium Parco della Musica, last night's appointment with Cyndi Lauper was my personal must-see show of the year. Italian Cyndi Lauper fans have had a very long wait to see her play in Italy since her last visit to Rome in 1987 on the True Colors Tour, but the passage of time has done nothing to dint the sheer enthusiasm and energy that she brings to every performance and her voice has, if anything, improved over the years and is perfectly suited to the blend of rock 'n' roll and blues that are showcased on her latest Grammy nominated album and during her current European tour - Memphis Blues. Fittingly, she was joined on stage yesterday by a veritable who's who of blues giants including Archie "Hubbie" Turner on keyboards, Michael Toles on guitar, and the legendary American blues-harp player and 2010 Blues Hall of Fame inductee Charlie Musselwhite, as well as Scooter Warner on drums, Stephen Gaboury also on keyboards and long time collaborator William Wittman on bass.

There was no question that this was an audience who simply adored Cyndi Lauper, but on hot steamy nights when the thermometre is still lingering close to the 30° Celsius mark even after sun down, Rome audiences can be slow to get up out of their seats and start dancing – that all changed, however, when the singer quite literally threw herself into the crowd during Don't Cry No More, even climbing the side stairs to the upper level where she was swamped by amazed fans who clapped and danced around her. I've seen numerous concerts at the Cavea over the years and this is the first time I've seen anybody break protocol and defy the usually overly zealous Auditorium security guards in such a spontaneous way – I was only rows away when she sang Change of Heart in the midst of her fans and can report first hand that she barely missed a beat!

Cyndi Lauper is one of those artists who manages to connect with each and every person in a venue, swaggering up and down the entire length of the stage and constantly requesting that the house lights stay up. Referring several times to her Italian-American background she apologised for not be able to speak Italian during the between song banter, but did sing along to an impromptu version of Mambo Italiano!

Dressed in a leather-look black trouser suit, with chunky boots and her trademark birds-nest of bleached blonde hair she looked fantastic and gave so many powerhouse performances in one night that it would be hard to select a best bit – this really was, hand on heart, a faultless show. In the first set I really enjoyed her duet with Musselwhite playing harmonica on Down So Low, as well as the lovely All Through The Night and the crowd-pleasing footstomper Goonies 'R' Good Enough.

Generous to a fault, the encore saw her perform five extra songs – a wonderful cover of the Marvin Gaye classic What's Going On, followed by an exhilarating Lyfe, and then it was time for the massive selling hits from the 1980s, the songs that probably more than any others, are most associated with her - Girls Just Want To Have Fun, Time After Time and a final, gorgeous True Colors with Cyndi playing the Appalachian dulcimer left alone on stage with only Charlie Musselwhite once again on harmonica.


Watch Cyndi Lauper in concert in Rome below or click here to watch on YouTube.

The full set list as follows:
Just Your Fool
Shattered Dreams
She Bop
Early In The Mornin'
All Through The Night
Down So Low
Down Don't Bother Me
Don't Cry No More
Goonies 'R' Good Enough
Change Of Heart

What's Going On
Girls Just Want To Have Fun
Time After Time
True Colors