Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo Hit the Right Notes at The Rocksino
April 6, 2018
Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo brought their Very Intimate Acoustic Evening tour to a packed Hard Rock Rocksino on Wednesday night. The pair are celebrating their 39th year as musical partners and 36 years as husband and wife.
This experience showed as the two seemed very comfortable sharing stories of how different songs came about, a la VH1's Storyteller style of performance.
The duo kicked off the show with the 1988 hit “All Fired Up” which went into “We Live For Love” from Benatar’s first album In The Heat Of The Night.
Giraldo, a native of Parma, then headed to the piano, which was situated behind them. He played the beautiful intro to “Promises In The Dark” and eventually made his way to center stage to rock out with his six-string on the second half of that tune.
Benatar, all five-foot-nothing of her, is still a vocal powerhouse as she was able to hit all of the notes all evening long. Her voice is as strong as it was the first time I saw her back in 1986.
Pat mentioned that their oldest daughter just got married last year and that’s the reason why the duo are out on tour: They're still paying for the July 2017 wedding! Their banter was genuine; it appears that this pair, after almost forty years, are still having a ton of fun while on the road.
The wedding chatter led Giraldo to remember the day that his daughter was born. After mother and child were fine, he decided to head home and buy a very expensive bottle of scotch. After a few drinks he sat down and wrote “Run Between The Raindrops” for his baby daughter;they then offered that tune up to the audience.
Benatar then stated that everyone would know the next song because it was one of the “Holy Fourteen.” She went on to say the the Holy Fourteen are the fourteen songs they have to play or “We’ll get shit on Facebook” from their fans. With that, they segued into “We Belong.”
Before playing “You Better Run,” Pat told the story of being in a seedy Oklahoma hotel room in August of 1981 and getting a call from her manager. Their recently-shot video was going to be played on this new television channel called MTV; it was the second music video played on the channel to which Benatar quipped, “(It) made Spyder (Giraldo) the first guitarist to ever appear on MTV! And he’s right here from Parma!” A proclamation to which the hometown crowd went absolutely nuts.
The Rocksino fans got a treat as they got to hear a new ballad that the pair has been working on called “After The Fall.” Benatar said that something (a new album?) should be coming out in the next “two to three years.”
The first set closed with another MTV-era classic “Love Is A Battlefield.”
The duo returned to play “Shine," a new tune that was first played at The Women’s March last year, and “Disconnected” from 1993’s Gravity’s Rainbow.
Pat then said, “Sometimes we hear that we don’t like to play the old songs. Well, that’s not true! We just don’t like to play this song! But, we’ll play it but you guys have to help me sing.” Although she doesn’t need any help, Neil played the opening chords of “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” which prompted most of the audience get on their feet and sing along.
The ninety-minute set came to a close with the song that Benatar said “started it all,” 1979’s “Heartbreaker.” However, the pair also made that tune a mash-up as they sang Johnny Cash’s “Ring Of Fire” and Roky Erickson’s “Don’t Slander Me” in the middle before wrapping it up with “Heartbreaker.”
It was a fantastic evening of great classic rock performed by two outstanding artists. Let’s hope the next time these two perform in Cleveland it will be at their Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction ceremony.
An honor that is well past due.
Review and photos by Greg Drugan