Posted on 6/30/2013
Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo returned to Nashville, TN for another rock performance at the historic Ryman Auditorium. Pat, Neil, Mick Mahan (bass), and Chris Ralles (drums) performed to about 2,000 fans from the 80′s rock music era. Since this was a last minute approval, Brian Hasbrook and Tom Thompson were already obligated for other personal events. This left Mike Arnold to perform all the duties (take photos, take notes for a review, and update our social media throughout the show). Mike called on our past Concert Blast guest blogger, Terri Gibson, to come to his aide. Terri obliged to attend the show and write the review. Thanks Terri! Enjoy her coverage of the Pat Benatar / Neil Giraldo concert.
Written by Terri Gibson
Pat Benatar: a name that is synonymous with the ‘80’s and the emergence of female rock stars. She paved the way for women to rock it out, and many admiring fans copied her perky coiffed haircut. I must admit, I had not given much thought about attending a Pat Benatar concert. However, when Mike Arnold asked me to come and fill in for Brian Hasbrook and Tom Thompson, the ‘80’s child in me said “Sure, why not?”
I really enjoy concerts at the Ryman because of the intimacy and acoustics. Our seats were in the middle section of the balcony and as people began to file in, I noticed most all of them were filled. The opening act, Brynn Marie, was a newcomer from Pennsylvania. She told us how excited she was to be performing on the Ryman stage and proceeded to put on a great show. Backed by two male guitar players, she has a beautiful voice and great stage presence. She performed with confidence, enthusiasm, and engaged the audience with her energy and smile. I enjoyed her cover of the Patty Loveless classic, “Blame It On Your Heart” as well as her own song, which has been getting airplay on CMT, “Bandaid on a Bullet Hole”. Another song that Mike and I really enjoyed was a slow, sentimental ballad called “I’m Sorry”. Overall, I was impressed with Brynn Marie and feel that she is definitely on her way. You can check out her unique talent on YouTube where several of her videos are listed.
After the short intermission, the lights went down, the crowd began to cheer for Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo. They began their show with the hit, “All Fired Up”, which indeed worked in getting the audience ‘Fired Up’. Giraldo and Benatar have been together for several years both professionally and on a personal level. They are not only musical partners but partners in marriage. Their on-stage chemistry and enthusiasm for music and each other is still going strong, and seems to have weathered the pressures of the music industry. The song “Invincible” was a blast from the past for me, because it came from one of my favorite 80’s movies, “The Legend of Billie Jean”. Neil’s signature guitar riffs still rang true and sounded just as good as they did back in the day. This was also proven in their song, “So Sincere”, with Giraldo rocking out on an incredible guitar solo. This was followed by “Sex As a Weapon” and the classic “Promises in the Dark”, which Pat mentioned was written about their personal experiences as a couple.
A favorite of mine, “We Belong”, was as beautiful as ever. I really love this song because of the positive message and I love Neil’s beautiful notes on the guitar. This song was introduced by Neil playing a solo on the piano, (I didn’t know he was an accomplished pianist as well as guitarist!), which was a pleasant surprise. Pat was joined by Brynn Marie on harmony vocals, and performed well together.
The song, “Hell is for Children” followed, which Pat mentioned she was inspired to write the lyrics, along with their original bass player, after reading an article about child abuse in America. There aren’t many people who take the time to be advocates for children in these horrible situations, and I admire Pat for her candid expression and honesty.
Throughout the show, Neil and Pat gave the audience stories and background information about their songs and career. I’m a fan of rock trivia, and it was interesting to hear a tidbit of information about their song, “You Better Run”. As Pat told us that this song was the second video to play on MTV; making Pat the first solo female artist, and Neil the first guitarist played when the network first went on the air. The mood of the crowd seemed to intensify with each song, and this one was no exception. I looked around and saw people raising their hands in the air, singing along, clapping, and dancing. Everyone was having a great time!
This good vibe continued while Neil discussed having guitars that are named after women. In fact he mentioned his guitar is a woman (including all the moods that go along with them). Neil showed us the mood his guitar was in by strumming the intro to the song that kept the party rocking, “Hit Me with Your Best Shot”. This rocker had most people standing throughout and singing along. This song brought back memories from eighth grade for me. At that time, I was being bullied by two other girls, and this song would run through my head while in school! During this time, Neil threw picks out to the audience and interacted with them. I’m sure it meant a lot to those fortunate enough to be in the first few rows from the stage.
Another of my favorites from the ‘80’s was “Love is a Battlefield”. I would have to say this is probably one of my favorite songs from that time. This song, and the others throughout the show, was performed with the same great energy that seemed to infect the audience. Pat, Neil and the band left the stage for a few minutes as the crowd cheered for more before returning for their encore. Before starting the first of several encore songs, Neil and Pat took time to touch and shake hands with several fans, which had approached the stage before starting the first encore song, “Everybody Lay Down”. Neil gave out more guitar picks before performing, “Let’s Stay Together”. To close the night, Pat and Neil performed a medley of “Heartbreaker (Pat’s hit song) / Ring of Fire (Johnny Cash) / Don’t Slander Me (Roky Erickson) / Heartbreaker (back to Pat’s hit)”. Who doesn’t love some Johnny Cash? Especially us Nashville fans!
As the last song of the medley was closing out with a mighty crash by the band, Neil Giraldo extended the medley by breaking into a riff of Led Zeppelin’s “Heartbreaker”. The crowd screamed with approval as Pat interacted with the thrilled audience. As the band members were crashing out the end of the song again, the fans in the front of the stage were yelling, ‘One More, One More!”. Pat saw this and asked Neil to play one more, but Neil shakes his head No (this went back and forth several times). Right when Pat and the fans give up on the begging, Neil looked up while pointing up and says to them, “One More?” Of course there were more screams from the fans while Neil played the riff of the “Love Theme From The Godfather” This satisfied the crowd and the night finally came to a close while Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo bowed, hand in hand, in appreciation to those in attendance. They waved goodbye and walked off the stage together as the house lights came back on.
As I mentioned earlier, I had not planned to see this show, I must be honest. However, I am so very glad I went! I loved it! Neil and Pat, and their band really impressed me. They performed with such energy and vigor, and had the audience participating and on their feet. Both Neil and Pat were very friendly and appreciative to the crowd, and did not hesitate to take advantage of opportunities to reach out to those who were hoping for a handshake or guitar pick. I could tell their love for music and each other had not wavered after all these years; and they gave their very best. It was a nice surprise to see Neil play the piano and his talent on the guitar was even better than I’d remembered. Pat’s voice was still as beautiful as ever, and she sounded great. I appreciated their anecdotes and stories, and how well they connected with their audience. They started the show on time, and gave us all wonderful memories to take home.
On the Concert Blast rating scale, I give this show a 9.0. There were a few other songs I had hoped would be performed such as “Shadows of the Night“, “Fire and Ice”, “I Need A Lover“, and “Treat Me Right”. Also the show was a little less than an hour and a half. Judging by the crowd, I believe they were very satisfied, but they could have rocked out for another thirty minutes or so (the show ended by 9:45pm). Because of the short set consisting of only 13 songs and leaving several classic hits out of the set list, Mike Arnold gave this show a 7.8 on the Concert Blast scale (although he did say this was one of the best concert closures ever).
I highly recommend this show for anyone who would like to take a trip back in time or if you are a new fan and not familiar with Pat Benatar. You will not be disappointed. Thank you, Pat and Neil, for coming to Nashville!
Written by Terri Gibson
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Tags: 6/25/2013, blog, Chris Ralles, concert blast, concertblast Pat Benatar in concert, Johnny Cash, Led Zeppelin, Mick Mahan, Mike Arnold, Neil Giraldo, Pat Benatar concert review, Rocky Erickson, Ryman Auditorium, Terri Gibson