OKLAHOMA GAZETTE

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Concert review: Oklahomans show 'True Colors' By Heather Warlick

Nearly 6,000 Oklahomans showed their true colors Monday night in a diversity-fest unparalleled since last weekend's gay pride festival. Cyndi Lauper headlined her second annual True Colors Tour at the Zoo Amphitheater featuring the likes of Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, the B 52s, comedian Margaret Cho, Queer Eye's Carson Kressley, Girl in a Coma and Erasure's Andy Bell.

The evening was full of ups and downs with Joan Jett delivering a hard-core high and Andy Bell dishing up a Euro-pop low. But the crowd was in their element, the weather was perfect for the show and Kressley was a hilarious host, ad-libbing between acts throughout the show, whose goal is to raise money for the True Colors Foundation, an organization dedicated to raising awareness of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender discrimination issues and general human rights.

Girl in a Coma kicked off the show with their fresh brand of emo-punk rock. The two sisters, Phanie and Nina Diaz and Jenn Alva fit into the same genre as The Yeah Yeah Yeahs but singer Nina Diaz has a distinctively Chrissie Hynde-like vibrato that sets her apart from the run of the mill Lavigne-esque vocals of her contemporaries. The freshman trio only has one album out, "Both Before I'm Gone," but you can be sure they are well on their way with Jett's Blackheart Records backing them.

Next on the scene was Andy Bell, half of the Eurotechno duo Erasure. The only reason I can think of for his presence and performance was to add the token flaming flamboyance needed at a night directed toward a GLBT crowd that was dominated by strong female performers. Bell's performance was weak, marred by lame dancing, a constant Angles trance beat and the embarrassing fact that he sang alone on stage, with what can only be called karaoke tracks as backup.

But Bell's flamboyance was tame compared to what followed his act - comedian Margaret Cho. She was funny if you like filthy toilet humor. She was so far off-color, I was humiliated for her. Not to mention the fact that there were several children present.

She seemed to think that just because half of her audience was GLB or T, every joke had to contain the "D" word or the "P" word and that the GLBTs wouldn¹t understand any other form of humor.

I, for one, was disappointed that she chose to perpetuate the negative stereotype that all homosexuals are sex-crazed, drug-abusing extremists. She has loads of comedic talent but needs to work up some new material. The shock factor will only take you so far.

Enter: Joan Jett and the Blackhearts. Jett rocked out in skin tight black leather hip huggers and a tiny black bikini top that showed off her skinny rock and roll body. You could see her six-pack from Yukon.

Jett is 50 years old, but she looks incredible and sounds amazing. She delivered a hella-raunchy rock set that couldn't have been more killer if she were still 20. Her Blackhearts were tight, and the Oklahoma setting sun gleamed of her half-naked sweating body as the band belted out hits "I Love Rock and Roll," "Do you Want to Touch Me," "Cherry Bomb," "Crimson and Clover," "I Hate Myself for Loving You" and a crazy cool version of "Love is All Around," the theme song from the "Mary Tyler Moore Show."

Next on the ticket were The B 52s. Their psychedelic surf-style strangeness manifested itself song after song as members Kate Pierson, Fred Schneider, Keith Strickland and Cindy Wilson played party tunes that featured Pierson's swank and Schneider's borderline bizarre "sprechgesang" or spoken-word vocalese. The band is a goofy ensemble of the artsy weird types you might imagine hung out at Andy Warhol soirees tripping acid and thinking up clever catch phrases to use later in life when they settled down and started a band. But, the kitsch caught the audience when they launched into "Love Shack," and they peeled the paint of the figurative walls with "Rock Lobster," a Wipeout-style surf punk extravaganza. And Schneider gave some sound advice after belting out the title track of their new album, "Funplex."

"Remember, don't take pills and drink and go to the mall," he said.

And finally, it was Lauper time. She sounded really great on all her songs. Her signature soprano hasn't suffered a bit as the eighties diva enters her 55th year. "Bring Ya to the Brink," Lauper's newest studio album, contains some real gems including "Same Ol' Story," "Set Your Heart," and "Rockin' Chair," but it was her driving renditions of some of her classics that pulled the audience in and locked up her performance. She stirred up "Time After Time" playing a dulcimer and crooning with that sugary-sweet ballad voice that I would love to have sing me to sleep every night. "When You Were Mine" was amped up from the original version, and "She Bop" was slowed way down, but that only gave the tune, which could have sounded like a period piece, a fresh sound.

For her piece-de-resistance, she knocked out a high-energy rendition of her all-time-classic "Girls Just Want to Have Fun," the title of which now seems ironic since the singer has added an angst-ridden political edge to her once simple style. "Pledge to vote" was a recurring theme throughout the evening. At the end of her hour-long set, Lauper took a faux-finish then came back for an encore finishing out the evening with the tour's theme song, "True Colors," to which her crew let loose a gang of rainbow colored gigantic balloons for the ecstatic audience's play and the entire lineup of stars, excluding Joan Jett, gathered on stage for a end-of-summer camp-like group sing along.