MTV video star and rock vixen Pat Benatar threw me into a frenzy last night at Irving Plaza. Three takeaways: 1) her 33-year relationship with husband, collaborator, guitarist Neil Giraldo is inspiring; 2) The songs they brought to the world are still relevant, and harken back to the genesis of the MTV generation and 3) Pat’s voice — at 59-years-old she’s as fierce and bad ass as ever.
My delirium kick started with one of the best work-out songs ever, “All Fired Up.” I’ve seen Pat once before and she appropriately opens her shows with this song to get the crowd warm and toasty and then she slays them with “Shadows of the Night.” Ahhh! Then thrusts us forward to the ’90s with “River of Love” from Innamorata and “Everybody Lay Down” from Gravity’s Rainbow. The power of Benatar’s still pristine vocals shine no better than on “Invincible.” The intensity of her voice and persona made me Get Nervous when I was a kid. She’s still got it, but instead of a sneer, she does it with a humbled, settled, appreciative smile. “Hell is For Children” was up next followed by “You Better Run” which famously was the second video ever played on the burgeoning cable channel MTV in 1981. The first, “Video Killed the Radio Star,” was performed on synthesizers so hubby Neil Giraldo was the first guitarist to appear on MTV, Pat shared with a wink. The truth is that MTV made Pat Benatar a video star. I’m so encouraged by Neil and Pat’s affection on stage. It’s so obvious how much they love one another. This year marks their 30 year wedding anniversary and 33 years after they met here in New York City. It’s a beautiful thing.
She ended the main set with a string of her three biggest hits, “We Belong,” “Hit Me With Your Best Shot,” which she must play or fans go rabid on the Twitter and such, and her signature song, “Love is a Battlefield.” She sounded exactly the same as she did in the ’80s, which is remarkable for a female vocalist pushing 60. For her encore, a round of “Happy Birthday” for their lighting guy, Jimmy, and my favorite Pat Benatar song of ALL TIME — “Promises in the Dark.” I love, love, love this song, and I it’s even better now that I know her story about shoving the lyrics under the bathroom door to Neil because it was so early in their relationship and she was too embarrassed to read it to him face to face. So real, I love her. “Precious Time” and “Let’s Stay Together” rounded out the encore before her closer, “Heartbreaker.” The big surprise came in the form of a mash-up with Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire.” Still bad ass. It was the best concert ending I’ve witnessed in a long time. Pat Benatar is the rock goddess of the ages.