WILKES-BARRE — Even an overly rowdy crowd couldn’t stop Cyndi Lauper from celebrating a milestone anniversary of her most successful album.
“She’s So Unusual: 30th Anniversary Tour” made a stop at the F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts on Tuesday, bringing Lauper to Wilkes-Barre exactly 30 years and eight days after the release of her 1983 solo debut album.
The album was the first debut by a female artist to spawn four Top 5 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 and netted Lauper the Best New Artist award at the following year’s Grammys. It has since sold 22 million copies worldwide, was ranked No. 487 on “Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time” in 2003 and No. 41 on that same magazine’s list of “Women Who Rock: The 50 Greatest Albums of All Time” in 2012.
And for an album released in the 1980s, it has held up surprisingly well. Lauper’s plan on Tuesday was to present the album in its entirety and in its original running order and share stories about the making of the record, but some unruly members of the somewhat large crowd had other ideas.
During the performance’s second song – Lauper’s bubbly big hit “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” – she made her way into the audience to celebrate with her fans, then took exception to people sticking cameras in her face and taking pictures “up my nose.”
She brought the song to a halt and climbed back on stage, complaining about the too-close photos and unflattering angles.
“You wouldn’t like it if people stuck cameras in your face every time you tried to do something,” she said. “And you must know enough women to know they don’t like under-the-chin photos.
“Do me a favor. If you want to take pictures, take them from back there,” she said gesturing toward the back of the theater.
She then led the band through a complete performance of the song, and stayed on stage for the remainder of the evening.
Lauper had to quiet down audience members numerous times throughout the performance. At one point, she ended one of her stories with, “I can see you’re a rowdy crowd, so just read my book.”
But the crowd’s bad behavior could not stop Lauper from celebrating and turning in a fine performance. From the moment she took the stage with “Money Changes Everything,” the album’s kick-off track and a No. 27 hit, she was on fire, even falling to her knees and wailing at the song’s conclusion much as she did in the video back in the day.
Following “Girls,” she continued through the record’s big hits, “Time After Time,” “She Bop” and “All Through The Night,” plus the killer album tracks like her version of Prince’s “When You Were Mine.”
“Thank you all for coming, and for all the other times you’ve come,” she said. “With every twist and turn I’ve made, you’ve come to see me, so this is my thank you to you. I’ve never sung this album as recorded before.”
After completing the album with a knockout version of “Yeah Yeah,” Lauper and her band briefly left the stage before returning to play some of her other hits, beginning with 1985’s “The Goonies ‘R’ Good Enough.”
She followed with the dance version of “Sex is in the Heel” from her multiple Tony-award-winning “Kinky Boots” and a knockout rendition of her early-2000s song “Shine” (again being interrupted while telling the story behind the song).
But she saved her best vocal performances for last. Accompanied by just keyboardist Rob Hyman, her co-composer of songs such as “Time After Time,” she did impassioned versions of “Water’s Edge” (another Lauper-Hyman song) and 1986’s No. 1 hit, “True Colors.”
“Good night, be good to each other,” she said as she left the stage.
Tuesday’s show was opened by Hunter Valentine, a quartet of female rockers from Toronto, which turned in a feisty 30 minutes of alternative rock.