Wednesday, November 20, 2019

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Concert Review: Pat Benatar

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Pat Benatar & Neil Giraldo
Hard Rock Live at Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood
Photography courtesy of Ron Elkman

Midway through her band’s spirited 90-minute set Thursday night at Hard Rock Live at Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood, Pat Benatar explained that she’s obligated these days to play the “Holy 14” songs from her catalog of 11 studio albums.

“If I don’t,” said the woman born Patricia Mae Andrzejewski, “people will whine on Facebook.”

Given the state of the record industry today, many groups would be happy with a run that resulted in a Quietly Revered 2 or 3, let alone a Holy 14 and a career that spans more than 35 years. All of which begs the question: Why isn’t Pat Benatar in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame?

Since Benatar and husband/guitarist/songwriter/producer Neil Giraldo are having way too much fun on stage to worry about such trivial matters, allow me to do a little whining on their behalf.

What is your problem, Rock & Roll Hall? It’s not as if Benatar and Giraldo, whose 33-year marriage alone is deserving of an honor, don’t have the rock résumé. This isn’t Steve and Eydie at The Stardust. At Hard Rock Live, Benatar, whose classically trained voice sounds every bit as powerful and as compelling at age 62 as it was in her MTV heyday, tore through one hit after another—from the opening “Shadows of the Night” to a set-closing rendition of “Heartbreaker” that dovetailed into snippets from “Ring of Fire,” “Purple Haze” and the theme from “The Godfather.”

Unlike some of the Hall’s more questionable inductees, Benatar and Giraldo’s hits also happen to be rock songs (Did I somehow miss Donna Summer’s tour with the Rolling Stones?). As far as a body of work, consider this: Recent inductee Joan Jett landed nine singles on the Top 40 chart and delivered two platinum albums. Benatar recorded 15 Top 40 singles; produced a string of six consecutive platinum-selling albums between 1979-84, all of which charted in the Top 20 of the Billboard 200; and scored a No. 1 album in 1981 with “Precious Time.”

Throw in the fact that she was an MTV goddess (“You Better Run” was the second video ever broadcast on the channel); that she inspired legions of young girls to chop their hair and wear spandex pants (as immortalized in the cafeteria scene in “Fast Times at Ridgemont High”); and that “We Belong” is cool enough for Ricky Bobby (it plays over one of the final scenes in “Talladega Nights”), the criminals on the mean streets of “Grand Theft Auto” (it’s in the 2006 version of the game) and the cast of “Pitch Perfect 2” (where it appears twice) … and it would seem that the Hall is sadly remiss in failing to recognize the work of Benatar and Giraldo.

All of this, of course, was neither here nor there at Hard Rock Live, where the parents of two adult daughters (hard as that is for some of us to believe) did what they do best, bringing great energy to their classics (“Promises in the Dark,” “Hell is for Children,” and “Love is a Battlefield” were highlights) and honoring their fan base with a few social media requests (including a stirring version of “One Love”).

Maybe one day the Hall will get its head out of its Stratocaster and give Benatar and Giraldo their just due. They belong.

Set List

Shadows of the Night

All Fired Up

Invincible

We Live for Love

One Love (Song of the Lion)

Go

Strawberry Wine

Promises in the Dark

We Belong

Hell is For Children

You Better Run

Hit Me With Your Best Shot

Love is a Battlefield

Encore

Everybody Lay Down

Let’s Stay Together

Heartbreaker (with excerpts of Ring of Fire, Don’t Slander Me, Purple Haze and “The Godfather” theme)

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