Pat Benatar, Concert for KIDS?
The other night, my husband and I finally found the right rock concert for our three young children to enjoy.
Our oldest at 9, Robert’s entrée into the concert arena had been to see Peter Frampton at the same theatre during the summer 2006. I’ve actually had people ask WHO? when I waxed poetic about the infamous Frampton Comes Alive album of 1976 that made A & M records a gazillion dollars and put Frampton on the map. But now, it was our girls’ turn.
So, off to the theatre-in-the-round we went, literally 7 minutes from our house, to our daughters’ first real rock ‘n roll concert ever.
No one has to ask when you mention Pat Benatar, the four-time Grammy winning megastar, named “Best Female Rock Vocal Performance” for 1980 and 1981. A Lindenhurst native, now 55 with two daughters, Benatar rocked the house with her just left of “over-the-top” 80’s, epic pop music. Building to a moving, demonic fever pitch on “Hell Is For Children,” she explained the lyrical origin came from a New York Times article on child abuse that Neil Giraldo (second husband of 16 years) “made the guitar cry to.”
My husband, Tom, and I were amazed at Giraldo, a.k.a Spyder’s musical talent that has been under the radar. And after almost 30 years, the lyrics still held up. We Belong to the sound of the words we’re both falling under, whatever we deny or embrace for worse or for better, we belong, we belong together…
I felt it, hugging my two daughters, Kelly next to me and Melanie on daddy’s lap, as Robert craned his neck around the 40-something-year-old ladies in front of us clearly out for a reminiscing evening, arms linked swaying together…We Belong!
It occurred to me as Benatar commanded the stage both with her tough, theatrical presence and strong voice, how empowering she and her music are. I remember countless times in my life growing up on Long Island driving with groups of friends pumped up for a night out at Rum Runners, or the Dublin Pub or days baking in the sun on Jones Beach or Centre Island, listening to Benatar. Times after a breakup when I leaned on her for support and sang at the top of my lungs … …Promises in the Dark…never again, isn’t that what you said, you’d been through this before and swore this time you’d think with your head… you go girl, that’s how I feel. She would dust me off and set me on my merry way, again.
Benatar said it best at the Friday, April 11th concert, “In 1979, there was only one woman allowed on the radio at a time. And now, things have changed that a woman and black man are running for the White House.”
Times have changed and Benatar had much to do with shaping the pop culture.
After performing in amateur nights at Catch a Rising Star in Manhattan in 1977, Benatar formed a band with Giraldo. When she exploded onto the scene in ‘79, with “Heartbreaker” reaching #23 on the charts, there was a lull in women’s music where Joni Mitchell and Joan Baez had died down. We were left with sickingly sweet Olivia Newton John and borderline Linda Ronstadt. Thankfully, women’s attitude finally cleaved its way into rock n’ roll with Blondie’s first US hit “Heart of Glass” in ‘78, Chrissy Hynde and the Pretenders’ “Brass in Pocket,”in ’79, then Joan Jett’s “I love Rock ‘n Roll” and Madonna’s “Everybody” both in 1982…
Benatar’s stream of hits throughout the 80’s: “Hit Me With Your Best Shot,” “You Better Run,” “Treat Me Right,” “Precious Time,” “Shadows of the Night,” “Invincible,”…paved the way for the Suzanne Vega and Tracy Chapman “acoustic” women of the late ‘80s.
It was fitting that Pat Benatar would be my daughters’ first concert.
Priceless Kodak moment as our six-year-old, Melanie, sang along with the crowd and Benatar You’re a heartbreaker, dream maker, love taker don’t you mess around with me. And believe me, you wouldn’t want to mess with Melanie and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Another generation of women is touched by Benatar’s voice still strong after all these years. Thanks for decades of music Pat. Bravo!