It is tremendously satisfying to watch true professionals put on a show. Pros will put together a concert that contains hit songs, deep cuts and pay homage to the artists who made their career possible. Accomplished musicians will make sure every audience member feels like they’re part of the show. Masterful performers will ensure you’ve gotten your money’s worth at the end of the night and you go home satisfied.
This has happened every time I’ve seen PAT BENATAR perform, but she and NEIL GIRALDO took it to a new level for Pat Benatar & Neil Giraldo: A Very Intimate Acoustic Evening. Neil stated that he wanted to make it feel like friends brought a guitar to play in your den and the 35-year married couple did just that. A video on the overhead screen showed how they met and formed a musical duo before becoming a romantic one. The pair then walked out arm in arm to show they are true partners on and off the stage.
Pat sat on a stool to sing while Neil picked up an acoustic guitar for “All Fired Up.” Being seated didn’t hamper the fullness of her coloratura mezzo-soprano voice or the movements that showed the feelings she had for the hit song. As they did all night, the two told the genesis of the song as if it was a conversation among friends.
Patricia and Spider, as they affectionately called each other, explained that they didn’t write about themselves at first, but changed their minds and wrote “We Live For Love.” The song about their personal relationship was slightly different because it was acoustic, but Neil’s vastly underrated playing made it work. Pat also showed she could still hit the high notes which caused the crowd to gasp in amazement.
The sound at the sold out Majestic Theatre was perfect for “Promises In the Dark.” Pat’s voice carried beautifully, but the enthusiasm she showed during Neil’s solo was infectious and added tremendous energy. The long-ago written “In These Times” showed it was timeless as it was still meaningful for today’s divisive society. The deeply personal song was from the aptly-titled album Innamorata, which means “Beloved” in Italian.
Neil then gave the four characteristics he puts into every song. First, it has to have a tremendous lyric. Second, it must have a catchy melody. Third is the treatment – vocals, speed, instrumentation. Last, but possibly most important, is the first few notes to catch everyone’s attention. That synopsis segued perfectly into the distinctive beginning of “We Belong.” The audience sang in unison to the hit from 1984.
Pat introduced the second song ever played on MTV, “You Better Run.” She jammed along to her partner’s solo on THE YOUNG RASCALS cover song, as did the majority of the crowd. Neil began “Ties That Bind” by saying it wasn’t a commercial success, but it was artistically important for their career. It was soulful as hell, showing their range as musicians.
The fans knew exactly what was coming when Pat spoke about finalizing a recording session in New York and then reading an expose on child abuse. She used her booming voice along with the other three traits mentioned earlier to thrill the crowd with their monster hit “Hell Is For Children.” The rock anthem underscored the serious societal problem then and now…Loud
Patricia and Spider talked about having 37 new songs from which to choose to make a new album, but they love touring so much they can’t find the time to go into a studio to record it. We benefited from their love of touring, though, as we got to hear “Outlaw Blues,” a thrill for me as it was a deep cut that I had never heard live.
Perfectly placed in the setlist was “Shine” which the petite singer co-wrote with Linda Perry as a support of women and positive change. The multi-talented Benatar, author of the memoir Between a Heart and a Rock Place, has always been a strong voice for many issues. The crowd then roared at the opening notes of “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” and sang with her. The four-time (in a row) Grammy Award winner for Best Female Vocal Performance turned the microphone toward the crowd who turned into karaoke stars for the song.
The sing-along continued after a thunderous response to the opening notes of the #1 hit “Love Is A Battlefield.” Be Be Robbins and the girls from Waco sitting in front of me shook their moneymakers as the diminutive Ms. Benatar danced from her soul to accompany Spider’s emotional fretwork. The standing ovation started as the pair left the stage and the decibel level increased until they quickly came back.
In one of the loudest cheers of the night, Pat simply stated, “I’m sick to death of politics.” Neil added this was about music and the next song, “Let’s Stay Together,” was their tribute to the recently passed Chuck Berry. The beautiful song was highlighted by a scintillating guitar solo as Pat clapped with emotion and showed the love and respect she has for her partner.
The song that started their triumphant career, “Heartbreaker,” was punctuated by a one-man jam session from the vastly underrated guitarist and a one-woman aria from the classically-trained opera singer.
In the middle was a switch to a few verses of “Ring Of Fire,” which she sang directly to the love of her life. A chord change switched back to “Heartbreaker,” in which the adoring fans almost drowned out the hopefully soon-to-be Rock and Roll Hall of Famers. The standing ovation continued well after they thanked the crowd again and the lights came back on in the venue.
The superstars captivated the audience from beginning to end with hit songs, deep cuts and personal stories of all facets of their relationship. The crowd showed Pat and Neil the reverence they’ve earned, yet still felt the intimacy of a long-time friendship the couple wanted to project. With nine gold or platinum albums and 16 top 40 singles, they could have easily played “at” the audience, but they gained new respect by playing “with” the fans.
They have worked hard to put together a show that captures their entire timeline in the business, appeals to every level of fan and pays homage to the people who helped them along the way. The whole night had an ebb and flow that captured the audience from the start, enthralled them the whole night and left them talking about what a great night they experienced. Arena rock fans will want to see Patricia and Spider as they continue their tour through September 15. Hopefully, they’ll make time to put out a new album soon and follow that with another tour.
LIVE IMAGES: GUZPIX
LIVE WORDS: DAVID SIMERS