Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo with The Motels Live in Oklahoma

Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo with The Motels featuring Martha Davis
1st Counsel Casino
Newkirk, Oklahoma
April 15, 2012

By Jeb Wright

Set List:

All Fired Up | Shadows of the Night | River of Love | Invincible | Precious Time | Promises in the Dark | You Better Run | We Belong | Hell is for Children | Hit Me with Your Best Shot | Love is a Battlefield


Stay Together | Heartbreaker/Ring of Fire/Heartbreaker

Two very influential women in the world of rock and roll took the stage in Newkirk, Oklahoma on April 15, 2012.

Pat Benatar and Martha Davis of The Motels were both at the Top of the Billboard Singles Charts in the early 1980’s. In an industry where woman were allowed to be in pop oriented girl groups, or perhaps a member of a band ala The Runaways, Fleetwood Mac or Heart, both Benatar and Davis were fronting their bands, writing songs and in Davis’ case, playing guitar.

Having both woman on the same stage, during the same evening, proves that the hard work they put into opening doors in the industry for serious female musicians was worth it, as both woman, and men, of all ages were on their feet celebrating their songs.

The Motels featuring Martha Davis were up first. The obvious highlights of the set were the smash early ‘80’s hits “Suddenly Last Summer” and “Only the Lonely” but other tunes, including “Apocalypso,” “So LA” and “Mission of Mercy” were captivating, somewhat dark, lyrically, yet performed flawlessly by Davis, who, we are happy to report, can still hit the high note in “Only the Lonely.”

Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo were up next. Pat gives her husband equal billing, which confused the crowd, as many people thought Neal Girarldo was another opening act. The confusion was cleared up quickly, as the emcee announced, “Please welcome to the stage Neil Giraldo.” Soon after, Pat Benatar received a similar introduction.

While Benatar is the name that sells tickets, her hardcore following understands the equal billing, as Neil is a very accomplished guitarist, pianist and songwriter. On this night, he blistered the fret board, proving that he truly may be one of the most underappreciated guitarists in the genre. He is able to play complex lead passages and/or melodic phrases and can either fly through a hundred notes a minute, or simply hit that one special one. Not to be outdone, Benatar has lost nothing vocally, as she was simply spectacular.

After opening with “All Fired Up” the band gave the crowd a rousing version of “Shadows of the Night” featuring soloing not found on the original vinyl version of the tune.

Benatar talked to the crowd in-between songs. Before “Invincible” she said, “This is a great song from one of the worst movies of all time.” Later in the evening, Benatar explained that she had been writing music with her husband for over 32 years. She said, “I was only 12 at the time. I’m just kidding…that would even be illegal here, wouldn’t it?” Most of the Okie’s in the audience did not catch the slam, but those who did laughed out loud.

After telling the story of the day she wrote the first lyrics about her husband, Neil, the band kicked out a monstrous version of “Promises in the Dark,” again featuring extended soloing. Next, the band slowed it down with an acoustic version of Benatar’s first MTV video, the second video to appear on the station, “You Better Run.” With the rest of the band offstage, Neil and Pat sat on wooden barstools and made the rocking song totally work, acoustically. “We Belong” had everyone in the crowd singing loudly and on their feet. This song, which went over well, also featured a sequenced keyboard part. Not having an actual musician onstage to perform the song was a mistake, as it detracted from the show. This was, however, the only part of the concert that was not perfect.

“Hell is for Children” was performed next and was one of the set’s highlights. Benatar explained the songs origin and the bands dedication to “play this song every time we play until all children, everywhere, are safe.” The epic tune was delivered with power and precision, with Benatar giving her most powerful vocal of the evening.

Benatar explained to the crowd her dissatisfaction with her most well known song, “Hit Me with Your Best Shot. “I have been playing this song way too long. Sometimes, I think about not playing it, but then Facebook and Twitter would be filled with everyone complaining. I will play it, but now that I am 59 years old, I make the rules and there is one part of the song that I will not sing, so I will let you sing it.”

The verse in question, that the crowd happily belted out, was, “Before I put another notch in my lipstick case, you’d better be sure and put me in my place.”

The main set ended with “Love is a Battlefield” where Pat gave a nod to the iconic video and did that little shake during the dance portion of the video, bringing loud applause from the audience.

The encore began with the tune “Stay Together,” which Benatar said she was going to play, “Just ‘cause I like it so much” and ended with her heaviest, rocking song, “Heartbreaker.”

In the middle of the tune, the Oklahoma crowd was caught off guard, as the band went into the Johnny Cash classic “Ring of Fire.” The crowd loved the version of the song and sang along with Benatar until she switched gears and took the song back to “Heartbreaker,” ending the evening on a high note.

Throughout the show, Benatar was very open with the crowd, often reaching down and high fiving members of the crowd. One fan, a woman, had three Benatar albums and a Sharpie pen. Pat took the albums and the pen and after the show signed them for her, a very class act from a classy lady.

There was plenty of energy flying offstage and the Newkirk, Oklahoma crowd responded by staying on their feet the entire show. While the songs “Treat Me Right” and “Fire and Ice” didn’t make the set, this was still the strongest Pat Benatar concert this writer has ever witnessed, leading to the suggestion for Pat and Neil to capture this band for a live CD/DVD on this tour.

To see when Neil and Pat hit your town keep your eye on as this is one show you don’t want to miss.