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Pat Benatar Went Through the Motions, Blondie Rocked, and The Donnas Backed Out at Dodge Theatre

Pat Benatar
Pat Benatar
Luke Holwerda

icture this: teen girls in too much makeup channeling new wave goddesses with their overbearing, nacho-chowing mothers, wrinkled women in low-cut, studded halters exhibiting chests long past their perky prime, and grooving chicks with hair too long and pants too high. All once- or to-be punks, plus their counterparts.

Ladies snapped forbidden shots of two female rock icons that they've lived through vicariously for the past 30 something years. Proudly prancing in their leopard print dresses, bangles and Pat Benatar World Tour 1995 tees, Blondie and Benatar's show at Dodge felt like a new waver's Lilith Fair.

The Donnas canceled. Apparently, lead singer Brett Anderson struggled through their soundcheck after contracting laryngitis. That Dodge announcer guy explained that the girls were "in tears, like weeping" over their decision to bail on the gig.

Mr. Guy then said someone had secured a local backup: Joey Arroyo.

My intelligence was insulted after Arroyo played three songs and two were covers. I went to the bathroom. Neon-clad drunk chicks stupidly swooned at the musical amalgamation of Jason Mraz, Dave Matthews, and Jack Johnson. Needless to say: Arroyo was utterly unnecessary. The spot would've been best left empty.

Benatar and her bandmates took the stage and were quick to note that this was their 30th anniversary as a group. Lead guitarist, and Benatar's hubby, Spider peppered the set with a superfluous band history lesson.

"You know this song by heart," Benatar said. "You guys know all the words to this one," she later prefaced. "You all who've been here before know what to do at the part I don't like to sing," as the intro to "Hit Me With Your Best Shot."

Pat Benatar couldn't have seemed more bored, and simultaneously more assured that we were interested. Apart from repeating a terrifying booty dance native to John Travolta's "Perfect" era and her untapped virtuosity as an air guitarist, she was virtually emotionless and stationary throughout the set. Big songs fell flat due to the lack of energy, and despite crowd involvement via cell phone display, Benatar and Spider sat during "We Belong." It could've been explosive. It was lackluster at best.

 

Blondie
Blondie
Luke Holwerda

A graffiti banner reading, "Blondie," dropped and the band entered. Debbie Harry followed looking more than a little unstable in a white wrap sweater-slash-robe, a flared dress, a white baseball cap and big black sunglasses. Expectation: Debs went ape and it was gonna be awesome.

Blondie fearlessly pursued fun. Debbie danced incessantly, moving aside for big solos and instrumental blocks. The crew blasted through hits like "Call Me," "Hanging on the Telephone," and "The Hardest Part."

"Atomic" was the turning point. Half of the crowd were up past their prescribed bedtime, and couldn't seem to bear hearing another song that hadn't been featured in a Doritos or Swiffer commercial, so they sat.

Despite the seated masses, Debbie bopped flamenco and an experimental dub version of "The Tide Is High" brought the least committed helplessly to their feet.

Spaz dances of all varieties ensued, including hip-hop plus hippie fusions, and styles reminiscent of a Dave Chappelle sketch in which white people respond positively to guitars.

Debbie's wrath momentarily unleashed itself upon the keyboardist who in addition to being the only band member not clad in black, screwed up during the encore performance of "Heart of Glass."

Her scary, sexy, 64-year-old self quickly regrouped and reasserted her full attention toward the audience as if collectively boning them. Unbelievably, Harry happily charmed the boring, borderline geriatric crowd into moving and singing through the closer: a disco balled cover of Michael Jackson's "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough."

"Keep it cool," Deb said, bidding farewell to her crowd of sleepy Phoenicians. "Or keep it hot." She blew kisses.

Critic's Notebook:

Last Night: Blondie, Pat Benatar and Joey Arroyo at Dodge

Better than: A classical tribute to The Doors.

Personal Bias: I worship Deborah Harry.

Random Fact: According to Pat Benatar, her bassist agreed to gig with them for payment in pizza. I would assume he currently receives dollars, but this has yet to be officially confirmed.


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