Review: Smyth brings the ’80s back to life at Alive at Five
ALBANY Patty Smyth came out for a full-on attack to a good crowd, both her and the crowd braving the sweltering heat Thursday night for the third week of Alive at Five.
Despite the odds, Smyth put on a great show, winning over the audience with sheer energy and force.
This was hardcore ’80s radio rock, all good fun. In the legacy of Pat Benatar and Heart, Smyth’s unabashed embracing of her “eighties-ness” made the show a blast. The woman seems to not know she turns 55 in four days.
She liked to play up the heat — “I am feeling a little delirious . … I’ve never been so hot in my life” — which was fair.
She picked on her guitarist, Keith Mack, who has been with her for 35 years. “Keep an eye on him,” she said often, predicting that if anyone goes down from the heat, it will be him.
She also played up her upcoming birthday. “So tired of these birthdays,” she said.
Given the energy she put out for the show, the youthfulness she relentlessly threw at the crowd and the fullness and volume of her voice, she is rock ’n’ roll impressive.
During “Goodbye to You,” she pushed her voice over the edge. She didn’t have to — the song would score high without the overdrive — but she wanted the crowd to know.
Her band, Scandal, which she’s been with from the start decades ago, did little beyond backing her.
For “The Warrior,” one of her biggest songs, she left the stage to walk in the crowd, even climbing into the amphitheater.
“I’m having heat stroke,” she yelled once inside the belly of the crowd.
She mentioned, of course, her husband, tennis legend John McEnroe, who took a shot at rock stardom after achieving everything one can achieve in tennis. The skills used to master the game on the court did not translate for him on stage with a guitar, though.
“My husband told me two things: not to wear this and don’t lift it up,” she joked.
She picked it up plenty during the concert, though, to show off her legs, telling us she had a bathing suit underneath. She mentioned that after the show everyone should jump into the Hudson River and she would make the band drink a bottle of tequila — all perfectly harmless ’80s stuff.
“I wrote this song for my daughter; everyone thinks I wrote this for a boy,“ she said before singing “Sometimes Love Just Ain’t Enough,” with the chorus “There is a danger in loving someone too much.”
Smyth’s verve, charm and her 50-plus rock ’n’ roll hotness would win anyone over, as she did Thursday night. The show ended about 30 minutes earlier than standard Alive at Five events, but no one seemed to notice, and no one could fault her given what she packed in and the temperature of the day.
Local act Sirsy opened the show. The two-person act — Melanie Kahmer and Rich Libutti — can hold a crowd of any size, as they do practically seven nights a week somewhere in the Capital Region. They played a few from their upcoming CD, like “Lionheart,” and “Nuts,” both melodic, both strong.
Kahmer has a strong voice, not unlike Smyth, and also drums while singing. A talented songwriter and singer, her drumming is far from superb, but in a rock world where female instrumentalists are virtually non-existent, she is an inspiration and role model for young women.