Brad Patton

CONCERT REVIEW: Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo still get ‘All Fired Up’ for stripped down Wilkes-Barre show

CONCERT REVIEW: Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo still get ‘All Fired Up’ for stripped down Wilkes-Barre show
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Even while sitting on a stool and accompanied by a single acoustic guitar, Pat Benatar has a very powerful voice.

The four-time Grammy winner proved it time and again on Friday, May 20 as she and her husband of 34 years, Neil Giraldo, brought the intimate “We Live for Love” tour to the F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts in Wilkes-Barre.

Following a five-minute film which showed how the classically trained mezzo-soprano and the hotshot guitarist, then on tour with Rick Derringer, got together in 1979, the duo strolled to center stage arm-in-arm and garnered a standing ovation. The opening song, a stripped-down version of 1988’s Top 20 hit “All Fired Up,” set the tone perfectly for the evening.

“We’re here to have a little bit of fun before we go back out with the full band for the summer tour,” Benatar said after the first song. “Hope you like it.”

The now 63-year-old singer who ruled the airwaves in the 1980s still hit the high notes on the evening’s second song, “We Live for Love,” from her 1979 debut album “In the Heat of the Night.”

The couple playfully teased one another throughout the evening; he called her “Patricia” and she referred to him by his nickname of “Spyder.” Her stories seemed to be more personal, while he talked more about the technical aspects of writing and producing music.

Benatar said when they first got together, they wrote about universal subjects, but as they became involved romantically, they began writing about each other.

She then introduced the “first song about our relationship,” 1981’s “Promises in the Dark.”

“We were in Minnesota with a day off when we heard the news,” Giraldo said about the day Prince died. He then played an impressive but all too brief version of “When Doves Cry” as the stage was bathed in purple light.

Benatar then said the next song was one of her “Holy 14.”

“14 songs we must play every night or you give me shit on Facebook,” she said to a big laugh.

Giraldo then talked about how he intentionally made many of the duo’s songs recognizable from the first note, and the couple then launched into 1984’s No. 5 hit “We Belong” as the stage lights swirled along with those memorable opening synthesizer notes.

After a totally reworked “Outlaw Blues” from 1985’s “Tropico,” the duo worked its way through “Hell Is for Children,” which Benatar said has not quite made the transition from electric to acoustic yet.

Giraldo played a snippet of “Jessie’s Girl,” the No. 1 hit from 1981 he arranged for Rick Springfield, before the couple finished its main set with a song “about an angry woman” – 1980’s “Hit Me with Your Best Shot” – and 1983’s “Love Is a Battlefield.”

After a song from 1993’s “Gravity’s Rainbow” album, the duo finished its 90-minute performance with a medley of “Heartbreaker,” Benatar’s first hit from 1979, and Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire.”

If you missed Benatar and Giraldo at the Kirby, they will be back within driving distance in a little more than a month with co-headliner Melissa Etheridge. They will play at the Beacon Theatre in New York City on July 6, at the Tropicana Casino in Atlantic City on July 9, and at the Santander Arena in Reading on July 12.

Photo of Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo via Facebook