Written by Samuel Barker
Jun 24, 2007 at 05:00 PM
ImageFor folks in the Houston area, Pride week was capped off in the best possible way; The True Colors Tour came to the Woodlands Pavilion.

Sponsored by the Equal Rights Coalition, the tour featured bands popular in the gay community, as well as bands with gay, lesbian or bi-sexual members. No matter sexual orientation though, this was an amazing day to be a music fan in the bayou city!

Unknown to anyone, even those standing feet from the stage, DJ group The Misshapes opened the show. Their gig was basically to stand around looking bored playing CDs and records as people filed into the pavilion.

The first indication of who they were came as tour master of ceremonies Margaret Cho took the stage for a 10 minute stand up routine and introduction. She thanked the Misshapes for their set, which saw many people look at each other as a moment of clarity washed over them.

Cho was brilliant as always. I’ve always wanted to catch a live routine from her and this was a great moment to take it all in. For those who have a somewhat sick sense of humor where there are no rules, Margaret Cho is the lady for you. A declaration of elation over the demise of Jerry Falwell, talks of promiscuity post-marriage and plenty of other social taboos filled her multiple sets throughout the night.

Cho had the audience in her hand every time she took the stage. She even performed a rap number with a friend. She kept the set changes as interesting as the sets.

The first musical act up was Boston, MA’s very own The Dresden Dolls.

It’s been a while since this duo has made its way to Houston and plenty of their fans were in the audience for their 5-song, 20-minute run through their most popular numbers.

ImageUpon walking on stage, pianist/vocalist Amanda Palmer held her Saint Arnold’s high in the air and drummer/guitarist Brian Vigilone, dressed in what can only be described as what your grandmother would wear to bed, bowed for the audience before taking his spot behind his kit.

They kicked off their set with the opener from recent album Yes Virginia, Sex Changes. Palmer exudes an awesome amount of energy despite being seated behind her piano. Facial expressions tell the story as much as the words and music. This was especially apparent during the next song Coin Operated Boy, where Palmer took a robotic facial expression and mannerisms to pantomime the song in a way.

Vigilone is just as animated as he stood up during moments in the songs where his kick wasn’t being used, over animated hits as the songs took dramatic turns and even played a little acoustic guitar during the third song, Amsterdam.

For the Dresden Dolls, music is as much theatre as it is sound. All the songs come alive on the stage with each note providing the narrative to accompany the actions. The energy continued through current single Shores of California and their hit from the first album, Girl Anachronism. The set was short, but it piqued enough interest to guarantee them a good showing for any future gigs here in Houston.

Next up was Deborah Harry, former lead vocalist of Blondie and accomplished solo artist.

Despite being 61 years young, Ms. Harry owned the stage in a getup crossed between workout gear and 80s dance queen. Either way, Harry made the most of it and brought the audience alive with solo nuggets like French Kissin’ In the USA and Rush, Rush.

ImageNot a bit of Blondie material made its way into the set, which was refreshing when she could have ridden the nostalgia bus straight to a standing ovation. Instead, she took the challenge and blew the audience away with more obscure numbers, including two cuts from her new album including the dancer You’re Too Hot.

For 45 minutes, Harry glowed like the sunlight that fell upon her face as she showed everyone in attendance that age is but a number and musical ability doesn’t fade so quickly.

Next up was Rosie O’Donnell, who made it to a few dates here in Texas. She did a 20 minute stand up routine that went more like a narrative of her current life. As you can guess, Donald Trump, The View and The Price Is Right were all mentioned. O’Donnell did say the job didn’t look like it would be happening, but people still applauded to give her the knowledge they were on her side.

Now it was time for Erasure.

I didn’t know what to expect from Erasure. They made some of the most interesting and timeless pop tunes to come from the 80s synth-pop era, but how interesting could a guy with a laptop and a singer really be?

Very entertaining. Vocalist Andy Bell still has an amazing voice and strutted around the stage like it was his. The men in the audience wooed as did the women. Keyboardist Vince Clarke even strapped on an acoustic to show a different side of the group.

The duo was flanked by three female vocalists who gave a wonderful depth to Bell’s vocals and made the songs soar. Honestly, I wasn’t expecting anything other than nostalgic fun and got much more.

ImageThe show was shut down by Cyndi Lauper, who began with a nice public address about Hate Crime legislation and a video about it. It was a moment in the fun to realize it was all for a cause beyond just having a fun listening to music.

Of course, Lauper wasted no time after the end of the video in bringing the fun to the audience. Kicking off her set with “Hole in my Heart,” Lauper brought all the older hits to the audience. Her Goonies Theme made the set as well as anthemic classic Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.

After Lauper finished her set, the entire cast of the evening took the stage for a rendition of ABBA’s Take a Chance on Me and a heart-melting rendition of the tour’s namesake song, True Colors. Though the drizzly night, hearts lifted, new friends held hands and sexual orientation, gender nor race meant anything at this moment, everyone was together on a voyage and the grand finale was the reward they all hoped it could be.

This tour was wonderful and should turn into something of a regular thing. I’m certain it made money and the venue was filled despite the threat of rain all day. If you missed this, you missed what could be the show of the summer.