B-52s, Cyndi Lauper Kick Off Bethel Woods Concert Season in NY’s Catskills

Written by on June 16, 2008

Cyndi Lauper’s True Colors Tour made its way to the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts in Sullivan County, NY to kick off its summer concert series. Lauper is headlining the nationwide extravaganza with help from several other acts, including arguably the world’s best party band, The B-52s, who also performed at the Hudson Valley landmark.

While many showed up to support gay rights policies, which is why Lauper said she organized the True Colors tour, many more were on edge to see the 80s era legends play their new music as well as some of their longtime staples.

Photo by Elizabeth Lynch

The B-52s’ new CD, Funplex, is a throwback to the band’s early years (before the made-to-be-chart-topping “Cosmic Thing” album) and so was the performance. It amazes me how Fred Schneider can still sing and dance around the stage with the kind of energy he had twenty years ago, Keith Strickland’s bouncy guitar sound is back as it was in the early 80s while Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson’s vocals are still captivating whether they are taking turns on the lead or harmonizing together.

Photo by Elizabeth Lynch

The B-52s started out with the classic “Private Idaho” and moved into the Funplex, featuring tracks like “Love in the Year 3000,” “Ultraviolet” and “Pump.” After a trip back in time with “Rock Lobster” and “Roam,” Fred, Kate, Cindy an Keith hit the audience hard with the title track to “Funplex.” While “Funplex” is the B-52s first new music CD in the 21st century, they brought the spirit and style of their early era to the new millennium. There was one disappointment: Fred Schneider didn’t wear a one of his patented cool suits.

Photo by Elizabeth Lynch

Cyndi Lauper also has a new CD out: “Bring Ya to the Brink.” After tour MC Carson Kressley did a yeoman’s job keeping the crowd going while waiting for the crew to finish building Lauper’s set, the New Yorker belted out “Change of Heart” as she came down from a giant tierra. Lauper also did her excellent (and far superior to the one by Celine Dion) cover of Roy Orbison’s “I Drove All Night.” For her, the Bethel Woods concert seemed like a big celebration as she mixed her early songs like “When You Were Mine” and “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” with several songs from “Brink.”


Lauper showed her maturity as a oerformer with the new tracks, but anyone who remembers her early years’ videos also recalls that family had always been extremely important to her (remember her mother in all those videos?). Toward the end of the show, she shared the mic with her young son, Devlin mad several other children who were on the stage when the all the show’s performers sang a couple of tunes together, including “True Colors.”

Photo by Elizabeth Lynch

Before the B-52s and Lauper took over, Rosie O’Donnell did an act. Pushing the hype and political garbage from her over the past 10+ years aside, I prefer to remember her being a funny stand-up. I really liked her in the HBO “Women of the Night” Comedy Special (a show that also included Judy Tenuta and Ellen DeGeneress). Although this could come as a surprise to many, O’Donnell delivered. She did insert a couple of Bush/Republican bashing comments, but her performance proves why she still has a huge amount of star power.

As opening acts in concerts are usually pretty good, after watching Canadian band The Cliks perform that night, I am becoming a fast fan. This is an all-girl hard-rick band that will make their predecessors (and I mean the like of Joan Jett, X-Ray Spex, Wendy O. Williams and Varuka Salt) proud. More on The Clicks can be found here.

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Listeners of Revenge of the 80s and readers of the blog who have not made it to the Bethel Woods Arts Center yet will be glad when they soon make the trip.. After a scenic drive past the White Lake area, the complex and pavilion are well-built and nicely arranged. The Center is now home to the Woodstock museum, which opened in early June, as well. The Bethel Woods Arts Center’s web site has information on future concerts, memberships, other events and directions on how to get there.

The True Colors Tour is led by Cyndi Lauper, and different locations feature different acts. Some 80s fans will be happy to find that Nona Hendryx and Joan Jett are taking part in the tour at different points as well.

In other news, according to the B-52s website, they will open up for The Police as that legendary group plays its last concert in the U.S. on August 7th,

***Coming soon: a full photo page with pictures by Revenge of the 80s Associate Producer/Blog Photographer Elizabeth Lynch.

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