Cyndi Lauper review, Glastonbury 2024: A celebratory reminder of a career well spent

The underestimated pop veteran still has the energy of a punk rocker  (Getty Images)
The underestimated pop veteran still has the energy of a punk rocker (Getty Images)

One of the annual highlights of Glastonbury is a set by a star you forgot has a litany of classics to their name. You can feel the crowd turn in increments, from slight indifference, to head-nodding recognition, to full-blown enthusiasm.

Last year this seemed to happen to Sophie Ellis-Bextor, a few months ahead of her Saltburn-assisted career revival, who charmed the Pyramid Stage with a long set of sparkling Noughties pop. This year, the same role has been inhabited by Cyndi Lauper, an often underestimated pop veteran with a New York squawk of a voice and the sprite-like energy of a punk rocker.

Perhaps due to the heat, the crowd here takes a while to warm up to Lauper, a subdued air hanging over proceedings. There are audio issues at first, too, Lauper grasping at her ear-piece for “The Goonies ‘R’ Good Enough”, her theme song to the 1985 family classic – but a track that few in the crowd seem to recognise.

Things pick up by the time Lauper pivots into “I Drove All Night”, one of those great, dramatic Eighties power ballads. Lauper’s voice is raspier than ever, but she still manages to hit the high notes spectacularly.

She is 71 now, dressed in silver skinny jeans, a loose silver corset and a blue tiered dress that looks like a wedding cake. Her hair is shaggy and the colour of ice, and she moves with a scrappy, endearing lack of polish. She feels like a one-woman flashback to a time that is on the cusp of no longer existing – thick Brooklyn accents, punk clubs, the arty oddballs existing at the intersection of pop and performance art.

The bigger Eighties numbers force the crowd to pay attention. “Change of Heart” is a synthy banger; the chaotic “Money Changes Everything” has a touch of Springsteen to it, Lauper’s band exploding into a cacophony of noise, and Lauper screaming at them to go even harder. The romantic “Time After Time” is blissful, the crowd singing and swaying along in unison.

Time After Time: Cyndi Lauper proves she’s still got it (Getty Images)
Time After Time: Cyndi Lauper proves she’s still got it (Getty Images)

Of course, Lauper is primarily synonymous with one stone-cold classic. She knows it, too. Circling the front of the stage, she speaks with mock casualness. “Are you guys ready to have some… you know…”

There is something almost spiritual about “Girls Just Want to Have Fun”, which may have the reputation of being a breezy hen-do standard but has a real grit and pain to it – “Some boys take a beautiful girl/ and hide her away from the rest of the world / I want to be the one to walk in the sun / Girls just wanna have fun.”

It’s incredibly heartbreaking, with Lauper splitting the song in two to discuss reproductive rights and equal pay, and talk up her charitable fund Girls Just Want to Have Fundamental Rights.

She concludes with “True Colors”, that rich, moving torch song that’s always landed on the right side of cloying, the crowd by this point rapt.

Lauper is on the cusp of a farewell tour, with Glastonbury potentially serving as her most high-profile UK goodbye. It would be a solid exit: celebratory, infectious, and a reminder of a career well spent.