Review: Benatar shows she can still rock
Sandy • There are many ways to celebrate freedom as the July 4th holiday approaches. There are parades, fireworks and patriotic speeches. But what better way to bring in the holiday than to enjoy some good old time rock n' roll.
And that's what veteran rocker Pat Benatar and her guitarist, piano-playing husband Neil Giraldo brought to a crowd of about 2,500 at the Sandy Amphitheater on Wednesday evening.
In a too short set of 13 songs that lasted about 80 minutes, the 60-year-old Benatar, celebrating 31 years of marriage and nearly 35 years on the road with Giraldo, showed she still has the chops to hit the high notes.
Though it's been almost a decade since the pair of released new material, they put on a fine live show. Giraldo is a masterful guitar player and Benatar, a red-headed beauty who doesn't appear to have lost much since her heyday in the early '80s, can still captivate an audience.
The night was filled with sometimes loud rock. But the emotional highlight came in a quieter moment when Benatar, Giraldo and fine warm-up singer Brynn Marie delivered the anthem, "We Belong."
"This is the part of the show where we sit down because we're old," quipped Benatar. No apology was necessary. The softer song hit all the right notes.
Moments later, though, the resonance of Benatar's plea against child abuse was marred slightly with technical problems that forced her to start the song a second time. But that was a minor quibble as the older-skewing audience seemed to enjoy a trip through memory lane.
Benatar's set began with "All Fired Up," a fitting start to the holiday weekend and a high-energy show.
High points, of course, were the hits. "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" had the audience on its feet joining Benatar in song. And the show-ending "Heartbreaker," that turned into a medley that included "Ring of Fire" and what sounded like Giraldo playing the theme from The Godfather provided a high-energy end to an enjoyable evening.
This is simple rock and roll that includes a bass, a drum set, Benatar's vocals and Giraldo's guitar and piano. But's it's fun and effective.
Speaking of simple, Marie, a newcomer, showed great promise as she sang with a single guitar player to open the show with a six-song set. She has a big voice and the stage presence to compete with late-arriving folks.
A good word is in order for the Sandy Amphitheater as well. This was my first show at this venue and it can compete with any in the valley for comfort, views, quality of sound and convenience.