By MIKE CHAIKEN
In the stage left corner at the Mohegan Sun Arena, there was a prop pay telephone.
And when Cyndi Lauper sang the country/ R&B classic “Misty Blue” (from her new album, “Detour”), the performer used the handpiece of the phone as her microphone.
It was an apt metaphor in reverse for the Friday, May 20 show with Lauper and headliner Boy George.
At no point in this concert did either performer simply phone it in.
The energy from both Lauper and George pushed the meters well into the red. Both were in absolutely fine voice. And both performers brought in bands that superbly allowed the singers to give the large crowd at the Sun great performances.
Although both Lauper and George are associated with the MTV colorfully enriched days of the 1980s, both singers hardly have been sitting on their hands lately.
Lauper has a new album, the country-influenced “Detour.” She wrote the music for the hit musical “Kinky Boots” (which is coming to The Palace in Waterbury). And she has been a vocal activist, especially within the LGBT community.
George released a well-received solo album in 2013, “This is What I Do.” He is reuniting with Culture Club for a tour of Australia in June. He has been a judge on the U.K. version of “The Voice,” where he has been mentoring young singers (and earning a lot of press). And he comes to America’s flatscreens for the latest installment of “The Apprentice.”
Both Lauper and George offered a few nods to their hit-making days of the 1980s.
For instance, George dipped into his Culture Club catalogue of monster hits such as “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me,” “Church of the Poison Mind,” and a surprise duet with Lauper on “Karma Chameleon.” But, he also offered some deeper cuts from the Club, such as “Victims” (a hit but not as big as some) and a nearly forgotten chestnut, “Love is Love” from the soundtrack for the long forgotten film, “Electric Dreams.” He also demonstrated that he is about more than Culture Club with 2013’s solo track, “The King of Everything” (which was one of my favorite performances of the night).
Lauper also played the hits. But she also was willing to play with them. For instance, “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” was a duet with Boy George. “True Colors” was played on dulcimer as a solo acoustic number.
Lauper also took a chance by opening the show with the first single, “Funnel of Love,” from the new album “Detour,” (which was released just days earlier). But the track offered the right vibe for the show to come.
Both Lauper and George also were charming and fun in their interactions with the audience. Even when Lauper had to rebuke an overanxious fan during her explanation of her inspiration for “Detour,” she did it in a good natured humorous way. And when George had to deal with an annoying technical problem during “Love is Love,” there was no indication that he would allow it to spoil his fine rapport with the audience.
Both Lauper and George also proved their voices are better than ever. Sometimes voices degrade over the passage of years, but Lauper and George are even better singers now than they were when they burned up the MTV playlists.
The Mohegan Sun was the first night of the short tour for Lauper and Boy George. But it was polished and great fun.
And more importantly, it offered some great performances from two of the most colorful characters in musical history.
I give both Cyndi Lauper and Boy George four out of four stars.
Comments? Email mchaiken@Bristolobserver.com.
PHOTOS by MIKE CHAIKEN