Music Park: Pat Benatar & Neil Giraldo @ Warner Theatre — 7/8/15


A promo for the Pat Benatar & Neil Giraldo 35th Anniversary Tour by American Public TV (above).

Pat Benatar told a lovely little story at the Warner Theatre in the latter half of her set on Wednesday night.

She and her band were on the road supporting their second album with a tour, and their management told them to tune into new cable channel MTV on August 1, 1981.

They tuned in via the television in their “cheap motel” and watched music history being made as their video for “You Better Run” aired as the second video ever shown on MTV, making Pat the first female artist and her husband Neil Giraldo the first guitar player to appear on the fledgling network. (The English electronic act The Buggles debuted with the first-ever MTV video, “Video Killed the Radio Star,” and without a guitar in the band, of course.)

With that intro, Pat and Neil launched into “You Better Run,” from the hit record Crimes of Passion, which became her biggest selling album, certified 4X platinum.

Since we’re talking about that video, let me make it easy for you to rewatch it:

It’s easy to forget exactly how big Pat and Neil really are until you see them live again — they sound *absolutely* amazing and people in the full house at the Warner were going bonkers. Grown-men and women, literally, were throwing themselves at the stage for both the crystal-voiced chanteuse and her guitar virtuoso.

Pat used her powerful voice, which doesn’t sound like it has aged one single day, to deliver a pleasing set of 16 songs, including several from that second hit record — “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” and “Hell Is for Children.”

Many of the songs were introduced by a whimsical vignette that illustrated the deep love and affection between Pat and Neil. Neil joked that “Hit Me” was about an angry woman, and Pat immediately seemed to regress 30 years in her desire to punch someone while acting out the song! And Pat reflected on how serious today remains the song “Hell Is for Children” and its message of stopping child abuse.

Patricia, as she is called by her husband, was charming and chatty in performance, and men and women alike were eating out of her hand. Her voice was perfectly flawless.

Watch Pat and Neil perform “Love Is a Battlefield,” a live performance staple, on AXS TV on Jan. 21, 2015:

Neil took pride in showing off his chops as a man who plays many instruments as well as arranging and producing songs. He sat at the piano to perform the opening segments of several songs, including the romantic “We Belong,” one of my all-time favorite songs from the House of Benatar.

The versatility of Pat and Neil was certainly on display as they moved from sweeping ballads like “We Belong” to hard rocking numbers like “Heartbreaker.” Neil would move gracefully from piano to guitar, and in response the guitar would either hum softly or roar loudly under his deft direction. At one point, Neil punctuated a bit of storytelling by playing a significant chunk of “Jesse’s Girl” by Rick Springfield, wowing the audience with a song he arranged and on which he played guitar and bass.

Neil proves the guitar guru as well in the encore when Pat and he close the show with “Heartbreaker,” which becomes a medley in combination with Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire,” White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army,” and the Godfather Theme. The man simply rocks.

The guitar riffs supplied by Neil to many of his wife’s songs rock so hard in fact that they verge on metal occasionally. In this way, the songs of Pat Benatar are endlessly fascinating in that they bring together so many different fans from across the spectrum of music lovers — balladeers to new wavers to rockabillies to metalheads.

In that light, I certainly would say that it’s a damn shame that Pat and Neil haven’t released new material since their 11th studio album Go in 2003 — except Lady Benatar announced they were working on a new album to be released in the near future! They apparently recorded at least some of it during a break in touring earlier this year. I heartily welcome this development.

Pat and Neil continue a long summer tour throughout July and August, stopping next in Lowell, Mass., on Friday, July 10. They launched this 35th anniversary tour last year to great acclaim, and they are performing as well, if not better, than they were in their prime. Hell, you could even argue they are now in their prime!

Look, they both are so remarkably good that you shouldn’t miss this show. You better run… to see Pat and Neil when they come to play near you!

Pat and Neil are starting each concert of their 35th anniversary tour with this retrospective video. Watch it and get up to speed:

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