This year’s concert should be cooler and more intimate than was last year’s inaugural edition. But at Constitution Hall Saturday night, expect the same level of excitement and energy – especially during the closing ensemble performance of the gay anthem that gives the tour its name.
Last year at Merriweather Post Pavilion, when Cyndi Lauper led the ensemble in raising fists in the air during ”True Colors,” it was a powerful testament to the song and the singer’s enduring appeal. The song, once dedicated to a friend of hers who died of AIDS, is now so much more. Same for Lauper, too. Only the faithful would have predicted that Lauper would still be releasing albums on a major label 25 years after she scored her first hit, the left-field feminist anthem ”Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.” And her new Bring Ya to the Brink is every bit as energetic as her earliest sets. The first celebrity to star in PFLAG’s famous ”Stay Close” campaign a few years ago, showing support for her lesbian sister, Elen, Lauper says about the gay community: ”They have never turned their back on me. I will never turn my back on them. We’ve had a long and enduring love affair.”
The B-52’s recently released their first album in 16 years. And Funplex proves the self-described
”World’s Greatest Party Band” is still tops in the party-rock business, a sub-genre it pioneered with hits such as ”Rock Lobster” and ”Love Shack.” The fun, frolicking foursome with three gay members – Keith Strickland, Fred Schneider and Kate Pierson – keep their patented festiveness and nonsensical silliness firmly intact on the new album. The band’s sound is built around Strickland’s odd, often minor-key instrumentation, the tight, soaring harmonies of Pierson and Cindy Wilson and of course Schneider’s campy, spoken-word observations that make you smile. On Funplex‘s ”Dancing Now,” Schneider sings directly to his ex. ”Yeah, you,” he shouts sassily: ”I finally broke through, before I broke down. I was no fool, you messed around.” Then Wilson and Pierson join in the fun of this empowering anthem, singing the titular refrain in beautiful harmony. It’s great to see them dancing now.
Tegan & Sara
This lesbian, bi-coastal-Canadian sister act runs on cute, from looks to hooks. After nearly a decade performing together, Tegan and Sara Quinn, bred on New Wave and folk, pile on the charm in every track they write, keeping things short, sweet and harmonious. These 27-year-old identical twin rockers still tell tales about their music, their history and their individual idiosyncrasies — in liner and press notes, on the Web and especially in concert — in a slightly shy, amusingly self-deprecating manner that’s both honest and arch. Last year they released their fifth album, The Con, produced by Chris Wall of Death Cab for Cutie, which featured the single ”Back In Your Head,” about a lover seeking forgiveness. ”I’m not unfaithful, but I’ll stray,” they sing, in typical clever and cute fashion.
A classically trained pianist inspired to become a modern-day singer-songwriter by the works of Joni Mitchell and Ani DiFranco, Spektor sounds like few other pop artists around – though any fan of Tori Amos or Fiona Apple should take notice. For that matter, so should everyone else: This 28-year-old Russian-born New Yorker deserves wider attention with her smart lyrics, unusually original character studies, and her stunning and evocative musical mix of new wave, cabaret, pop and classical. She’s spent the past few years opening for acts including the Strokes and Keane, and you’ve probably heard her music already. The charming and catchy ”Fidelity,” for example, taken from her acclaimed 2006 album Begin to Hope, has been used in various TV shows, from Grey’s Anatomy to Brothers and Sisters.
Carson Kressley, the tour’s host, is the only non-musician in the bunch, and he gives Fred Schneider a good run for the money as the gayest, too. Kressley was one of the first in this decade’s new breed of celebrity: the reality-TV star. He’s currently the host of Lifetime’s How to Look Good Naked show, and last year he judged a mother-and-daughter beauty pageant on CW, not to mention several cameo roles in movies and frequent sartorial reports for TV talk shows. But of course, you know him as the ”fashion eye”/mother hen from Bravo’s Queer Eye, which wrapped last year after four years. The former Ralph Lauren designer is expected to engage in campy banter between True Colors performers. Would you expect anything less from the guy whose favorite adjectives are ”fabulous” and ”super”?
The True Colors Tour happens this Saturday, June 7, at DAR Constitution Hall, 18 & D Streets NW. Showtime 6:30 p.m. Tickets start at $75. For more info, see http://www.truecolorstour.com.