Get ready to hear Black Flag‘s seminal 1981 punk anthem “Rise Above” as you’ve never heard it before: with a vocal assist from ’80s pop icon Cyndi Lauper and played by a band featuring a keytar. Lauper teamed up with former Black Flag frontman Henry Rollins at her Home for the Holidays benefit held in Los Angeles on December 10.
Rollins doesn’t care much for Flag founder and sole consistent member Greg Ginn, and has stayed far the hell away from the competing 2013 Black Flag reunion tours. Hank’s ambivalence toward his former bandmates is hinted at by his refusal to mention his former band by name while introducing the classic track before his duet with Lauper.
“I was in a band and that band had a song that talked about never relenting, that talked about going into insurmountable odds without fear, knowing that you’re gonna win because you’re right,” Rollins told the crowd at the benefit. “I figured this is the perfect soundtrack, albeit short, for tonight when I would not dare stand on this stage and sing it alone when I have the option to sing it with my very talented friend, the very lovely Cyndi Lauper.”
Lauper and her incredible chartreuse mohawk joined Rollins onstage for a spirited rendition of “Rise Above” that finally features the keytar accompaniment the anti-authoritarian anthem has been sorely missing for almost 40 years. But it is a little disconcerting to see Hank scream one of his ’80s punk songs while wearing a shirt, shoes, and something other than his tiny black workout performance shorts.
Lauper’s Home for the Holidays concert benefits her True Colors United nonprofit, which is dedicated to finding “innovative solutions to youth homelessness that focus on the unique experiences of LGBTQ young people.”