April 14, 2012
Billy Bob's Texas
Fort Worth, TX USA
Review by David Huff
Photos by Barry Bond
Strolling through Billy Bob's Texas is an experience all into itself. The world famous honky-tonk usually plays host to country music stars; both up and coming and established. Tonight, I was drawn to the facility to see former rocker, now just gently swaying, Pat Benatar perform. It had been almost ten years since I last saw her in concert with a full band at the Bronco Bowl in Dallas. Back then, Pat was touring with her daughter Haley as the opening act. Now it was just mom and dad (guitarist Neil Giraldo), and a rhythm section.
I didn't really have high expectations going to this show. I wasn't looking to go forward with Pat, but reflect back on the amazing seven-year run she had from 1979 to 1985. During that remarkable time frame, Benatar established her self as the preeminent female rock vocalist on the planet. By no means am I taking anything away from Ann Wilson of Heart with that comment, but during this time frame, Pat was the "it" girl of rock - and deservedly so. You just don't win four consecutive Grammy's for Best Female Rock Performer, like Benatar did, without the chops to knock people's socks off.
Tonight's concert was like a family gathering. Everyone in the building knew Pat and her husband Neil through the music they created the past three decades. Most of the people in attendance had grown up with the pair through songs that personally touched them. Many people were there to relive those days gone by. The three thousand or so gathered this evening weren't familiar with their fellow attendees. They all, however, shared the same 'crimes of passion' that Pat Benatar's music evoked all those many years ago. Seriously, if you weren't energized to follow this phenomenal rocking chick after hearing her belt out "Promises in the Dark" from 1981's Precious Time, then you definitely were in the wrong place.
The decades may have taken its toll age wise on this lot of baby boomers inside Billy Bob's, but not on their reason for coming out. They wanted to hear the hits, and it's the hits they certainly received. Tonight's show touched on everything you wanted to hear from Pat's past. Even "River of Love", from the 1997 recording Innamorata was warmly received. Listen, I'll be the first to admit I was a little disappointed not to hear "Treat Me Right", "Fire & Ice" or "Little To Late". They could have easily replaced "River of Love", "Invincible" and "I Want Out" to really make this show stand out. But, when you have over three dozen Top 40 singles to your credit, there's going to be a 'heartbreaker' you really wanted to hear, but it just isn't going to be possible.
I was glad to see that Pat had returned to the pixie hair cut that so defined her in the '80s. For some reason, the long hair she has occasionally sported in the past doesn't suit her. The intimate setting this venue provided was a great atmosphere to watch the band perform in as well. Benatar talked with the crowd throughout the night. She even informed the audience that her husband's appearance on the video "You Better Run" - which they performed acoustically - made him the first guitarist to ever appear on MTV. The very first video aired, The Buggles' "Radio Killed the Video Star", was an electronic creation by the British duo Geoff Downes and Trevor Horne. The second video the fledgling music channel aired was the rocking first single off Benatar's record setting second album that all but secured Neil's place in history.
The beauty of this show was the simple fact the Giraldo's weren't out to reinvent the sound they pioneered to tremendous success in the '80s. They made sure the music preserved the memories those in attendance had of the band. The acoustic versions of "We Belong", and the aforementioned "You Better Run", were more a showcase of Pat's still golden voice. And Neil's not a shabby guitar player either.
As I was driving home thinking about the show, I reminded myself of the reason I started a rock and roll publication back in college many moons ago. Music still has the power, more so than any other artistic medium today, to actually move and stay with you. Movies, theater, art - none of these forms of entertainment conjure up the memories a song, or a concert, holds with a person throughout time. There's no doubt that almost everyone at Billy Bob's tonight could tell you the first time they saw Pat Benatar in concert. I still remember my first exposure to this amazing artist, and I won't forget this one either. Yes, Pat can still hit you with her best shot, and then some.
*Pat Benatar will be in concert this summer with Journey and Loverboy.
Pat Benatar "HEARTBREAKER" Live 2008 Uploaded by SunnyDaleSlayr
All Fired Up
Shadows in the Night
River of Love
I Want Out
Promises in the Dark
You Better Run (Acoustic)
We Belong (Acoustic)
Hell is for Children
Hit Me with Your Best Shot
Love is a Battlefield
Let's Stay Together
Ring of Fire