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In what’s quickly become an annual — if one day hopefully unnecessary — NYC holiday tradition, the third edition of Cyndi Lauper & Friends: Home for the Holidays filled the Beacon Theatre on Saturday night for a concert benefiting the performer’s True Colors Fund and Forty to None Project. Intended to raise awareness about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth homelessness, the three-hour show featured a lineup including such major names as Pink, Josh Groban, The Hives, Nelly Furtado and the Indigo Girls, among others. Susan Sarandon introduced the evening, which also included a short comedy set by Rosie O’Donnell in which she joked about such topics as her weight issues and her recent heart attack.
Ebulliently hosted by Carson Kressley, who offered a smattering of wisecracks throughout — he said of Ingrid Michaelson that “she’s like a slutty librarian who can sing” — the evening featured a wide array of musical styles, from the Indigo Girls’ earnest folk to The Cliks and girl group Hunter Valentine’s garage band rock to Big Freedia’s bounce music, the latter including an energetic display of twerking by a female dancer.
The show began with Pink, accompanied by Justin Derrico on acoustic guitar, performing a moving rendition of Lauper’s “Time After Time” that was marred by loud feedback noise. “Stop, please make it stop, it’s making my head angry,” the singer implored, even as she managed to recover nicely.
The Brooklyn duo Matt & Kim were afforded a fairly luxurious set of three songs showcasing their exuberant brand of low-fi pop that featured Kim’s dancing on top of her drum kit as much as playing it. Lauper then joined The Hives for a duet on their cheeky holiday song “Christmas Duel.” The singer, sporting flaming red tresses, later showed up to join Hunter Valentine on “Crying,” Michaelson on “Blood Brothers,” Groban on John Lennon’s “Imagine” and Furtado on the Christmas classic that gave the show its name.
Highlights included the Indigo Girls, joined by singer/songwriter Matt Nathanson, performing their classic “Closer to Fine” as well as “The Wonder Song”: The Cliks, led by transgender singer Lucas Silveira, ripping through “Oh Yeah”; Furtado delivering an emotive “Try”; Nathanson showcasing his sensitive folk rock on “Come On Get Higher” and “Kinks Shirt”; and Michaelson warbling a touching “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”
Groban’s gorgeously sung set included a moving cover of “Changing Colors” by the Canadian folk band Great Lake Swimmers and the live world premiere of the ballad “Hideaway” that well showcased the more relaxed style he’s developed in recent years.
Lauper naturally wrapped up the show with a short set that included the title tune from her 2001 holiday album Feels Like Christmas as well as a raucous, beat-heavy version of her classic “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” that featured the incongruous sight of O’Donnell playing the drums and doing some twerking of her own. Since the evening was rapidly approaching the overtime mark, she hurriedly rushed back onstage for the encore, a moving a cappella version of “True Colors” that marked a fitting conclusion for this show putting a much needed spotlight on a worthy cause.
Pink: Time After Time
Matt & Kim: Daylight, Better Off Alone, It’s Alright
The Hives/Cyndi Lauper: Christmas Duel
Indigo Girls: Closer to Fine, The Wonder Song
The Cliks: Oh Yeah
Nelly Furtado: Try
Big Freedia: I Have the Power
Matt Nathanson: Come On Get Higher, Kinks Shirt
Hunter Valentine: Revenge, Crying
Ingrid Michaelson: Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, Blood Brothers
Josh Groban: Changing Colors, Hideway, Imagine
Cyndi Lauper: Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, Feels Like Christmas, Home for the Holidays, True Colors
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