Published on theMusic.com.au, Apr 2017
Cyndi Lauper, Blondie
Melbourne rising star Alex Lahey might have a little way to go until she’s accumulated the same mileage and collection of hits as the legendary names at the top of the bill, but singles from debut EP B-Grade University were pulled off with the same tight conviction you’d expect to see from a career band.
Aussie icons The Clouds delivered a medley of classic indie rock hits from “last century” as waves of nostalgia flooded the grassy banks of Kings Park. Their charming, gritty twang came in thick and fast with Say It, Renee’s Problems and Bower Of Bliss, while they introduced punters to their first new material in 20 years from the Zaffre EP.
The new tunes were refreshing but still sounded like they had been plucked directly from the ‘90s, as the dual, poppy vocals of Jodi Phillis and Patricia Young delicately danced atop music that took unexpected dark turns.
A menacing flurry of insect buzzing took over the PA and out strutted Blondie; leader Debbie Harry looking as cool as ever with two plush bees strapped to her head and a shirt screaming “Stop Fucking The Planet” in a sparkling silver text.
Immediately kicking things into 110%, the band launched into One Way Or Any Other, each member quick to prove their worth. “You don’t have any phone booths in Australia?” asked Harris. “We don’t either in New York, but we can still play the song.”
It was during Hanging On The Telephone that drummer Clem Burke’s relentless talent first took the spotlight; the music legend dressed in leather and dishing up whirlwind fills while beating the drums to death.
The Fun really kicked in when the keytar came out for an uplifting 6,000 punter singalong to Call Me, quickly followed by classic ballad In The Flesh, which pulled things back to reset the vibe for ’80s new wave hit Rapture. Harris bounced from one side of the stage to the other spitting punk melodies and dance moves to tight rolls from Burke, while guitarists Tommy Kessler and Chris Stein went to town; a fitting segue into an energy overload with Beastie Boys’ (You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party) topped off by Heart Of Glass and Dreaming.
A flat introduction by comparison, Funnel Of Love loosened things up for Cyndi Lauper to reset the mood. Hit She Bop was quick to illicit what its title promised, and with its infectious chorus, alongside the soaring verses of I Drove All Night, it was clear melody took precedence for the New York singer.
Country made an appearance through 2016 ballad The End Of The World and Patsy Cline’s Walkin’ After Midnight, which led to the first of many longwinded, charming in-between song anecdotes.
Things picked up rapidly with Witness, and Lauper truly hit her stride on mid-paced number Rain On Me where her diverse vocal range got to shine through.
After a band introduction, Money Changes Everything finally gave each member an opportunity to truly showcase their skills, led by a thick synth line from Andy Burton and drummer Sammy Merendino, while Lauper rolled around on the floor in a mad fit.
While Lauper’s set wasn’t as full on as Blondie’s, there were more dynamics; highlighted in the emotional roller coaster that was evening’s final moments, as intimate, gut-wrenching ballads Time After Time and True Colors blended into party pop megahit Girls Just Want To Have Fun.