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POP MUSIC REVIEW

A show of varied `Colors'

July 02, 2007|Steve Hochman | Special to The Times

In covering the multi-act "True Colors" concert at the Greek Theatre on Saturday, it's tempting to emulate the cable newswoman who last week refused to lead a telecast with "that story" (cough-Paris-cough). Here too, more substantive matters -- the Human Rights Campaign's anti-gay-bashing efforts, which the tour is promoting -- could have been overshadowed by the guest appearance of a tabloid star.

Fortunately, the guest who showed up was Rosie O'Donnell, a longtime gay rights activist who was invited along by organizer-headliner Cyndi Lauper.

How different it would have been if the rumors of a "surprise" performance by Britney Spears had proved true. But she wasn't missed.

Lauper remains a force of nature for her singing and stage talents. With her spiky hair dyed lavender, she hammed it up with "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" but also showed oft-overlooked depth and breadth. Her version Saturday of "When U Were Mine," for example, still gives Prince's original a run for the money.

Second-billed pop duo Erasure was nearly as much a crowd favorite. Singer Andy Bell played charmingly to the adoration of fans, while music craftsman Vince Clarke's tunes, like much of Lauper's material, both embraced and transcended their '80s origins. Third-billed Deborah Harry, on the other hand, completely eschewed Blondie material for weaker solo songs, failing to maintain the level of art and energy of the set that preceded her by the arty neo-cabaret duo the Dresden Dolls.

The responsive audience was diverse -- gay and straight, old and young, flamboyant and staid, parents and kids, though the last didn't stop emcee Margaret Cho from delivering X-rated material. O'Donnell turned in a witty and warm stand-up set -- and even joined Lauper's band to play timbales on a few songs, and not badly at that.

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