March 19, 2017
By Taylor Slovak
Photos by Brian Ullrich
A Very Intimate Acoustic Evening With Pat Benatar And Neil Giraldo
Powerhouse femme rocker Pat Benatar gave a stunning performance Sunday night at Dallas' historic Majestic Theater. Alongside her long-time husband and musical partner, Neil Giraldo, the duo's aptly named show proved to be a rare, intimate treat for fans. The beautiful baroque theater was alive with excited chatter and buzzing anticipation. As the two kicked off the night, they set the mood for the acoustic evening.
This would be the kind of show where they "come to your house, knock on your door, come inside and start playing songs for you." According to Neil, this would be a "living room house show." The other disclaimer he raspily announced was that he was sick and losing his voice, and therefore would not be singing, but Pat promised she'd sing her ass off, and that she did.
The beauty of a living room set is not solely the music but the stories shared between songs; secrets meant only for those in the room. "Patricia," as he calls her, and Neil delivered on both counts. Most songs were stripped bare, played solely with guitar, vocals, and the occasional piano. The room heard the songs just as they were originally written, showcasing the tremendous talent and passion of the couple, and woven in between anecdotes and stories about how they came to be.
"We Live For Love" revealed Pat's incredibly dynamic range as she flawlessly weaved in and out of her classically-trained mezzo-soprano roots. Stories of their early relationship revealed their trick to surviving love and the pressures of industry; they always wrote observationally, vowing to never write about themselves. Now celebrating their 35th year in marriage and 38th year performing together, it seems to have paid off.
As they grew more secure in their relationship, "Promises in the Dark" was the first personal song written about themselves, revealing much of their early struggles. On stage, it appeared to have only brought them closer as she sang to him, her back to the crowd. Two words; relationship goals.
Who would have guessed "We Belong" almost never made it into the studio? According to Neil, that "tropical, infectious groove and rhythm" did not go over well with Patricia. "You're fuckin' crazy," she said. But Neil fights for songs he believes in, and thank goodness for that. The crowd powered through those belts right along with Pat as they all sang with her, fists in the air, professing their undying love to the stage.
Before playing some of Pat's favorites, fans were reminded to not get lost in the hits. "Everybody always wants you to make records like Crimes of Passion over and over but it can't be like that; you make records in between those big monsters that are incredibly important. They may not be hit records but are some of the greatest works we've ever done." Of those works, Pat and Neil played a haunting rendition of "Hell is for Children" that brought me to tears.
Fists thrusted back into the air as the theater overpowered Pat in singing "Love is a Battlefield," another hit that was almost a miss. Neil told the crowd that he didn't hear a hit song initially. It was reworked and hard fought with the recording label, undeniably a win for us all. The show was sprinkled with plenty of other hits, or the "Holy 14," as the rock duo calls them. The encore ended with their crowd-winning mash up of "Heartbreaker" and Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire."
If love is a battlefield, they've surely won the war. Pat and Neil are the antithesis of Lindsay Buckingham and Stevie Nicks. They are inseparable on and off stage. They never stop writing; day and night Neil is cranking out new material. Neil countered his wife's banter about his crazy sleep/writing schedule, "If you go to sleep and it's dark, and you get up and it's dark, what do you get? Two nights for every day." How's that for productivity? While they agree they've been touring quite a bit, there's still much in store. The two left the crowd with a promise to record the 37 songs they've queued up.
What a great teaser.
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