POP / Ruff stuff

Cyndi Lauper - Shepherd's Bush
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The Independent Online
She walked on with a mop on her head. Beneath it, a jacket, two-tone bodice, a leopard-spotted crinoline skirt with a strap-on bustle. ``You ready?'' Of course we were. The drums kicked in, and she began to strip.

First, the jacket slid slowly from her flouncing shoulders. Then the hair-mop was ripped away, leaving canary-yellow dreadlocks. By the end of the second number, ``I Drove All Night'', the skirt was off and black French knickers, with red ruffs attached, were on. She ended on the floor in a shrieking tiz.

Lauper can talk normally - Queen's, New York - but flips into trademark Bonnie Langford-speak at the pull of a string, dancing little-girl-like, a marionette. And when she sings, she's stronger at the top of the range; deep down, you can lose her in the bass.

But she can be a big girl, too. The tin bib she donned for ``Feels Like Christmas'' confused at first, but blow me if it wasn't part of a Rolf Harris washboard and spoons set.

She was 12 numbers in before ``True Colours'' brought the first big cheer of the night, Cyndi caught alone, in the smoky beam of a spotlight. We were rocking by ``She Bop'', and rolling with the punchy ``Money Changes Everything''.

She made us wait for the encores. We politely stomped and shouted for a full five minutes before she was back, in red bowler hat and silk dress, with the disco-hit we were gagging for: ``Hey Now (Girls Just Want to Have Fun)''.

A line of drag queens filed on to the Empire's stage. Under solid, fibreglass wigs, with silver basques and platforms, they wobbled through a Village People-style dance routine. ``Girls just wanna . . . [arms OUT] just wanna . . . [wrists DOWN] have fun . . . [and TURN, two, three].'' We'd been waiting a long time, but we'd finally got into the party.