|Cyndi Lauper (right) and Cliks frontman Lucas Silveira perform a duet at Saturday's True Colors concert. (LISA POOLE/ASSOCIATED PRESS)|
The second annual True Colors tour kicked off in Boston over the weekend with a message that never gets old: Be yourself, and accept others for who they are. The second part of the guiding principle was especially useful whenever the show's host, Carson Kressley - who has parlayed his tart-tongued stereotype on the reality show "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" into a career prototype - returned to the stage between acts for another round of bad gay humor.
Founded last year by Cyndi Lauper to raise awareness and encourage support of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender equality, True Colors has expanded this year from 15 to 24 dates and added a welcome assortment of performers to the lineup. And even though the event felt less politicized this time around - Lauper asked concertgoers to vote but left the verbiage at that - True Colors' ideals of freedom and diversity were once again underscored by each artist's embrace of his or her unique muse.
Well, maybe not every artist. Kat DeLuna belted a few undistinguished club tracks to open the show. But Lauper was an inspiration - the kitschy '80s icon who might have been voted Least Likely to Mature Gracefully has become not just a vocal supporter of important causes but an enduring musical presence who follows her sense of adventure from style to style, fashion be damned. In a striped, flowing pants suit and phenomenally strong voice, Lauper performed a handful of tracks from her idiosyncratic new dance record, "Bring Ya to the Brink," and careened through the best-loved sections of her back catalog: "Time After Time," "I Drove All Night," "She-Bop," "Change of Heart," and an arena-caliber cover of Prince's "When You Were Mine." Cliks frontman Lucas Silveira appeared for a feisty duet on "Money Changes Everything" and Rosie O' Donnell bashed happily on a little drum kit during "Girls Just Want to Have Fun," while the whole lineup closed the nearly five-hour concert with a galvanizing singalong of the tour's namesake song.
O'Donnell's stand-up set was a strange mash. The comedian/talk-show host/blogger/activist - a polyglot lightning rod of an entertainer who ID'd herself out of the gate as Parade magazine's Most Annoying
The B-52s, by contrast, delivered a barrage of musical one-liners, which is exactly what you want from one of the planet's great party bands. Campy exuberance and sweet, shrill harmonies intact, the band sounded wonderful but made the unwise decision to weigh down their set with new material. "Funplex," the B-52's first album in 16 years, was released in March, and while the new tunes faithfully follow the old template, crowd-pleasing is the bottom line on this sort of mega-tour and the crowd was here to trip down memory lane. Indeed, vast swaths of folks who probably haven't pogo'd in a quarter century danced vertically to "Rock Lobster," while "Love Shack," "Private Idaho," and "Roam" proved indestructible.
The quirky and gifted singer-songwriter Regina Spektor was her usual gripping self during a thrillingly non-conformist set of songs that drew from the European classical tradition as well as pop and rock. Unfortunately, armed with just a piano (or guitar, or beat-boxing friend), Spektor struggled to connect with swaths of chatting concertgoers.
Swaggering young rockers the Cliks shined as the mold-breaking poster children for True Colors: an all-girl rhythm section fronted by a transgender singer whose talent and intensity upended notions of gender, beauty, and personal freedom - and underscored pop music's place as a safe haven for outsiders of every stripe.