With a sparkle in her eyes and brilliance in her voice, Pat Benatar was all fired up at MGM National Harbor on Tuesday, as she and husband Neil Giraldo rocked through a smashing catalog of thundering anthems and hushed serenades.
Halfway through the show, Pat straddled the divide with a tempestuous rendition of “Hell Is for Children,” a song tackling child abuse that originally appeared on her great second album, Crimes of Passion, in 1980.
“We play this song every time we perform, and we play it in solidarity with the children that inspired it,” Pat said. “And we will play it until that day hopefully soon when we won’t need to play it any longer.”
Neil started the song gently at the piano, and then he stormed into its famous riff, which launches straight into your brain. It’s followed by Pat’s defiant yet pleading vocal, which launches straight into your heart.
Earlier in the show, Pat and Neil played as an acoustic duo, giving the full house at MGM National Harbor a taste of the more intimate version of their concert performance. During this interlude, they performed “We Belong,” a very favorite song of mine from Pat’s sixth album, the lush Tropico. As a duo, Pat and Neil also played “Disconnected,” a tune that seems to speak to our current times where people don’t seem to understand one another, from 1993’s Gravity’s Rainbow.
Later in the show, the band thumped through the sort of songs that demand singalongs — and sing along the crowd did, to the might of “Love Is a Battlefield” (the most famous hit) at the close of the set and the plight of “Heartbreaker” (the first hit) in the encore — perhaps the two most “Benatar” songs one could hear in a Pat Benatar show. They are willful, obstinate songs that women belted at the top of their lungs to roar like lionesses, albeit lionesses on the dancefloor.
Those songs and others came with the right amount of depth and verve thanks in part to the dynamic rhythm section of bassist Mick Mahan and drummer Chris Ralles.
A few years back, Pat and Neil revealed they were working on a new album. Although no new songs surfaced on Tuesday, Pat performed “Shine,” an empowering number she wrote for the Women’s March in January 2017. Here’s to hoping this powerful songwriting team will forge some more crowd-pleasers in the near future.
Meanwhile, Pat and Neil have a dozen or more tour dates throughout the rest of the year, including their next show in Atlantic City on July 26. Blaze a trail to their next concert, and feel the power of their music! Here are some pictures of Pat Benatar, Neil Giraldo, and band performing at MGM National Harbor on July 24, 2018 (copyright Parklife DC but rights reserved to Pat Benatar).