- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 27, 2002

If this summer concert season is something of an '80s revival (Rush, Poison, New Edition), it should come as no surprise that Cyndi Lauper, one of the decade's more colorful icons, is appearing.
She opens for Cher's "farewell tour" at the MCI Center Saturday night.
"It's actually a good pairing because she's doing something totally different from me, which is a good thing," Miss Lauper says over the phone from a New York City hotel. "We had a great time together in '99, and she's a big inspiration to me."
On the phone, her somewhat squeaky voice is unmistakable and bears the sarcastic humor and accent that links her to both Queens, where she was born, and Brooklyn, where she grew up.
Most people remember Miss Lauper as the pink-dress-wearing girl who sang "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" and "Time After Time" on her 1984 debut, "She's So Unusual." After a successful 1986 follow-up, "True Colors," her career slumped with a string of unsuccessful albums.
Despite this setback, her fans have remained fiercely loyal, and young people who grew up on her music pack her concerts. She's eager to get back into the music world after a hiatus during which she had a son with her husband, actor David Thornton.
"I want to make real music, music that's alive, that has a sense of urgency," she says. "I think I have material for two, three albums. I've been writing forever."
She returns this summer with "Shine," a five-song EP that represents her first significant material in five years (other than a 1999 Christmas album). It has been ready for some time, but the record company that was set to release it (Edel America Records) folded during the intervening years.
She is releasing it independently through her Web site and online retailers such as Amazon.
"I want to try the material out live because, honestly, you never get a chance to do that," she says. "I think it's a lot better than sitting by yourself and imagining it or sitting with a bunch of suits."
With all of the ups and downs of stardom, Miss Lauper says she remains grateful for the opportunities she has had. "The fame and the fortune, that comes and goes," she says. "The true richness of music comes from the moment, the release that in the right key, the right tune releases you into a magical world."

Another seminal '80s act working on a comeback this summer is Simple Minds. The reason the Scottish group has not had a hit in the United States since Ronald Reagan was in the White House can be summed up in one movie: "The Breakfast Club."
The John Hughes film turned "Don't You (Forget About Me)" into a No. 1 hit and made the members of Simple Minds stars for a brief time.
"It became one of those movies that was special for a generation," says lead singer Jim Kerr via phone from a hotel room in San Francisco. "It'd be churlish to complain."
Mr. Kerr stays positive because the band has remained a success in Britain. The principal duo of Mr. Kerr and Charlie Burchill (who plays guitar, bass and keyboards in the studio) has made a half-dozen more records since the mid-'80s, topping the British album charts through the early part of the '90s.
Even then, though, it was uncertain whether the group would continue.
"In the mid-'90s the band was feeling the weight of the past," Mr. Kerr says. "It's a bit like getting blood out of a stone, to be frank."
Now, four years after its latest record of new material, Simple Minds returns with "Cry," an album that remains rooted in the band's haunting vocals and synthesizer sounds while perhaps offering the group a new lease on life. It comes just as Simple Minds celebrates a silver anniversary this summer.
"I'm so delighted that at 25 years down the road we can have the vibe we have on "Cry," Mr. Kerr says. "I think if "Cry" were a debut album from a new band, it could get a lot of noise."
Fans will have a chance to hear these new songs when the band stops at the 9:30 Club Saturday.

The Fort Reno summer concert series has been a D.C. tradition for more than 30 years and a show-closing appearance by local favorite Fugazi has become a tradition, too. This year, the tradition changes slightly as the group plays Monday instead of in its regular August slot.
Music fans who have yet to catch the act live should take advantage of this free show. The punk quartet of Brendan Canty, Joe Lally, Ian MacKaye and Guy Picciotto remains musically relevant, and last year's "The Argument" ranks among the best albums in the group's canon.
Free Fort Reno shows continue every Monday and Thursday night through Aug. 15 at Nebraska Avenue and Chesapeake Street NW.

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