It was Michelle this time that suggested Casa De Margarita. It was me who accepted and bought the tickets. We were barely recovered from last week. Neither was Hoba. How could we resist? It was Pat Benatar, for screamin' out loud. Michelle is still walking funny after Joan Jett!
As is common, our first visit was to the Merch table. We figured, you know, last time they were selling ladies' undies for the Blues Traveler show... sure they must be having something hot for this female centric event. I had no idea. Mine eyes widened as they lit upon a shirt hanging five feet behind the table. Twas a flaming heart, wrapped tightly with thorns adorning it. The word "Lennon" stretched across it.
"Lennon?" I uttered. "L-Lennon Murphy is here?"
I had no idea. Then a voice greeted me, and Michelle and I turned. Twas a lovely young girl, excited to see me. See, she thought she knew me from a show prior. I hadn't the heart to tell her that on Lennon's last tour, she wouldn't be seeing the svelte man she saw before her now, but a 275 LB drink o' Bud, whom she'd likely have been afraid to have spoken to. Aye, regenerated just like Dr. Who have I. Turns out this lady was none other than Lennon's lil' sister Mariella. Explaining to Michelle just who Lennon Murphy was had a fun in it all its own, although I probably shouldn't have started with the fact that I got into Lennon on her first album... the, uh... the one that had "Property of Goat Fucker" on it.
What can I say, folks? Sure "My Beautiful" would have been a more enticing choice to introduce Michelle to Lennon. I blame Mr. Tortilla Jo and his 'Mazing Margaritas, but still... I convinced her well enough, seeing as how she wore the Lennon shirt I bought her for the rest of the night.
As Michelle changed I fought off a gang of Ninjas who wanted to boggart "our spot". True I may have dreamed that. What does Jo put in his drinks? Regardless, we got our place in the spotlight in well enough time to see Lennon, sweet Lennon in her performance. Needless to say, I'm a fan and have been for years. Being a fan of Lennon's albums and going to see her in concert could be a plus or a minus, depending. This night, Lennon did one of her (now common) "Acoustic" shows. That's not exactly accurate, however, as her "Acoustic" show consisted of her performing songs solo while accompanying herself on a Roland Keyboard. I get the picture though.
So did the audience. Walking out in a Matte Black dress, Lennon no longer looked like the Sexy Tattooed Teenager she was on the cover of her Debut Album 5:30 Saturday Morning. At 25 years of age, Lennon was all woman. Certainly young, and definitely very sexy, but there was no "Kid" on stage. Certainly her lyrics always dealt with mature themes such as Sex, Promiscuity, Drugs, Loss, Pain... the list goes on. Tonight, her piano and voice filled the room with an entrancing mix of Poetry and Sorrow that not everyone in the audience quite got. Lennon would probably think that was fine, as those that do get her, love her.
Further, Lennon is no dour and depressing stage nymph who wants to read you her book of goth suicide poems. Lennon has a definite sense of humor and managed to keep the crowd laughing in between songs, even as she delved into the slowest and lowest of her concert repertoire.
It was an unexpected surprise to see Lennon in concert, someone I've wanted to see in concert for half-a-decade now. Did she play every song I knew? No. Was I disappointed? No. This is a fine musician with a fine musical catalogue to choose from, and viva la choices she made. She also has the air of a professional, yet fun loving performer who actually likes what she's doing. Gotta love that smile. YYYY
Especially in a concert hall whose flooring I actually caused to get re-waxed once, I felt it was pretty damned vital for me not to drink too much. Then again, my Irish Blood allows me to drink a whole lot of Mexican Liquor before it saturates too heavily. Still... the Keys were in my pocket (in case you didn't know, one of my many nicknames is "Michelle's Purse"), so I switched to good old H2O PDQ.
And none too soon. A thundering guitar echoed throughout the "Bad Dancing Capitol Of The World" as the announcer introduced Pat Benatar, now credited with her husband (and long-time collaborator) Neil "Spyder" Giraldo. Neil hit the stage thrashing on his six string and Pat jumped out right after him. Dressed in a long, black dress with a long black trench coat over it, we wondered why she wasn't just basting up there. It turns out she was. But much of that... might have been because of the music.
There's one primary reason to see Pat Benatar in concert: the Voice. I know that sounds a tad obvious, considering we're going to see a self-titled and decades renowned vocalist, but think about it. There are many songstresses who have beautiful voices. There are many that make the hoarse scream sound sexy. There are quite a few with a range. Pat Benatar has this way of screaming, while granting the audience an "aftertaste" of operatic reverberation. Her voice rises to a crescendo and cracks (intentionally), breaking the riotous yell in favor of a melodic come down. It's during those moments that she truly blows the audience to the back wall of the theatre. However, she's always incredible, whether singing a sweet ballad or tearing into a rocker... this lady has it going on!
Naturally, Pat's been around for a while (making the excellence of her voice that much more noteworthy) and of course, she's had her fair share of hits and picking which ones to throw at the crowd might not have been easy. Pat explained that because this was the beginning of their "Summerized Tour" they were just going to play everything. And they did. As did we. With this many hits it would be almost impossible not to have the whole crowd singing.
Pat started with a song many considered to be a comeback in 1988: "All Fired Up"! This was our first taste at what her voice could still do. She vocally played with the song, extending some vowels to an impossibly breathless measure, and sustaining the quality with every second. The chorus kicked everyone into high gear and just as we were jumping around she lowered it into a whisper. "I believe there comes a time when everything just falls in line, we live and learn from our mistakes, the deepest cuts are healed by faith" she chanted, bringing our accompaniment up one level with each round until she rocketed into a scream of "ALL FIRED UP". It was anything but tranquil.
Similar attention was paid to songs like "Promises in the Dark", "Shadows of the Night", "Precious Time" and "We Belong". Her sense of humor continued as she rolled into her soundtrack songs like "We Live for Love" (from a Mad Magazine movie called Up the Academy) and "Invincible (Theme from The Legend of Billie Jean)", which she forlornly lampooned while still referring to it as a "great song".
The real kickers here were some of the tunes that mixed the soft with the rock. Classics like "I Need a Lover (that won't drive me crazy)" had everyone screaming "HEY, HIT THE HIGHWAY!", while "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" was an audience participation number like you wouldn't believe (possibly because most people didn't want the tune to end). "Heartbreaker" was another bouncer that Pat owned herself. Yeah, everyone sang, but she drowned us out with her loud "Don't you MESS AROUND, NO, NO, NO!!!"
Interestingly, though Neil Giraldo indicated that for this tour they wanted to stick as closely to the studio tracks as they could, there were some interesting points of experimentation. Neil himself spent time on the drums and often lent his hands to the keyboard while Pat sang. He also sang along at the right times (while conceding the spotlight to his wife). As this was a four person band (rounded out by Mick Mahan on Bass and Chris Ralles on Drums), there was the occasional accompaniment that was pre-recorded. However, these pieces were recorded by Spyder himself for this tour. This wasn't merely a re-play of the CDs. Though Pat was the Star, Neil was given an almost equal footing and held his own with his fantastic craftsmanship and affable stage presence.
As great as the whole shebang was, it was the Encore that I (and presumably many others) were waiting for: "Love is a Battlefield". This is a song that scarcely ever gets old. The lyrics, the music... it's a keeper. And it sounded incredible this night, amped up to the limit and beautifully performed (with just a hint of more heaviness in the mix), this pop classic was the perfect clincher to a fantastic evening. YYYY1/2
We sailed on back upstairs to the Merch Table (after paying our bar tab, which... man... water's more than the booze, dudes), where I bought a Pat Benatar shirt for myself and some Lennon Discs for Michelle.
Remember above when I said something about the best way to introduce Michelle to Lennon? Well, I got my chance to do that literally. Looking up, the black dressed one was right there. She signed our CDs for us and we talked for a while. I told her the surprise I had at finding out she was playing that night and what an unexpected bonus it was. I told her that I wasn't some fanboy, but I had appreciated her music since 2001. I repeated "I couldn't believe it... I was like 'Lennon Murphy is here?'"
She responded "And it's so funny that you know my last name too!"
I paused. "Oooooooookay... I'm a little bit of a fanboy!"
After we said our pleasantries and bade our farewells I leaned over to Michelle and asked "Uh, do you think Lennon thinks I'm stalking her?"
"Maybe. But you're always with me, so she'd probably know!"
If I told you that was the beginning of the adventure would you believe me? Like I say... wait for the novel.
Four Stars out of Five for Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo with opening act Lennon. It was a hell of a show from two amazing women who... well... now have a lot of my money. Yes, kids, the Concert Season is upon us again and what's to come might just disgust some and tittilate others. Dudes and chicks, prudes and dicks, I've got to hit the highway, so I'll see you in the next reel. Maybe I should start selling WorldsGreatestCritic.com T-Shirts. I wonder if Lennon would wear one...