Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo may not be the most celebrated power couple in the history of rock ’n’ roll, but their fruitful partnership is enduring.
A video about the relationship between the vocalist and the guitarist she calls Spyder was screened before the pair’s performance Wednesday at Starlight Theatre. The footage documented the paths that led to a fateful meeting in 1979. Their subsequent tenure at the top was brief but dominant. With significant contributions from Giraldo, Benatar was one of the primary torchbearers of corporate rock in the 1980s.
Wednesday’s robust outing reminded an audience of more than 4,000 of the power of Benatar’s ragged but stupendously fluid voice and Giraldo’s memorably succinct guitar riffs. While not all of their hits have aged well, even the mustiest songs are charming period pieces.
In her introduction to “You Better Run,” one of the most dated selections, Benatar reminded the audience that the associated video was the second song aired by MTV on the cable network’s first day of programming. Backed by two additional musicians and backing tracks, Benatar and Giraldo revived the glorious excesses of the 1983 hit “Love Is a Battlefield” in another of the best offerings on the refreshingly cool evening.
The affection the couple bestowed on one another, particularly on an urgent reading of “Promises in the Dark,” was engaging.
“We are celebrating our 35th anniversary (as musical collaborators) but maybe some of you don’t know that Spyder and I are celebrating our 32nd wedding anniversary,” Benatar said.
In addition to praising his spouse, Giraldo spoke about his work with artists including Rick Springfield. Giraldo arranged and played guitar on Springfield’s 1981 breakout hit “Jessie’s Girl.”
Giraldo and Benatar were the ostensible headliners, but most of the women in the audience were avid Springfield enthusiasts. The handsome star gave them what they wanted as he wandered bare chested through the audience as he sang “Human Touch.” Springfield, 64, made a strong case for being more than a sex symbol. Renditions of hits including “Love Is Alright Tonight” and “I Get Excited” were as toned as Springfield’s impressive physique.
Springfield played a few blues licks during an indulgent demonstration of his guitar prowess. He’s almost certainly familiar with Willie Dixon’s famous blues lyric “the men don’t know but the little girls understand.” The rabid devotion of the people who have been Springfield’s fans for more than 30 years suggests that the men still don’t know but the mature women continue to understand.