Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo have been making music together since the late 1970s and the longstanding working relationship has paid off for them, and for their fans. Last night’s headline concert at Riverbend 2005 was a complete and total winner.
Anybody that has ever heard Benatar’s dynamic vocals understands that it is the aural focus of her shows. Husband and musical partner, and guitarist extraordinaire, Neil Giraldo, is the kinetic, powerhouse driving their music’s breathtaking pace. Between the two, and a talented back-up rhythm unit consisting of Mick Mahan on bass and Chris Rollins on drums, they conquered yet another city last night — Chattanooga, TN.
From the opening number, Everbody Lay Down, the band did not let up their momentum. Benatar and Giraldo’s music has always possessed energy and drive, but the energy put forth in last night’s concert proved that they haven’t lost that attribute. In fact, by the third song, the 1982 hit Shadows of the Night they built up even more musical power. The reaction by an audience nearly 80,000 strong only helped drive the band’s power to a higher level.
Perhaps one of the most impressive aspects of Benatar and Giraldos’s band is the fact that they were playing as a 3-piece unit, apparently with a brand new drummer. Giraldo explained to the audience that they band had recently lost its former drummer, which is apt to happen in bands on a fairly regular basis, and drummer Chris Rollins was filling in. Giraldo, seemingly seriously, offered the full-time position to Rollins last night in what might be considered an oral contract of sorts — in front of said 80,000 witnesses. Good luck Chris; good decision Neil.
One of the instrumental aspects of last night’s show is the factor of the band playing as a 3-piece unit. The band has, on many occasions, usually performed with a keyboard player as well. The delivery of every song in which the entire band played was so well presented that not for a single moment did it sound anything less than impressive. There were no empty spaces that cried out for another instrument, no uncomfortable or embarrassing holes in the instrumentation. Giraldo’s unique guitar sensibility, Mahan’s full, vibrant bass, and Mr. Rollins skill on percussion left no doubt as to the capabilities of the musicians. At times it sounded as if there were four or five musicians on stage rather than a scant three. All hats are off for the band — bravo.
Another aspect of the show that proved impeccable were the predominately acoustic renditions of Every Time I Fall Back and We Belong. The movingly sweet blend of Benatar and Giraldo’s vocals is deceptively addictive, and if they’ve not released an acoustic collection it may be time to do so. In a world of fast paced, non-stop movement the few minutes of vocal harmony between the duet of Benatar and Giraldo was respite for many week weary fans in the cool, spring evening.
Benatar and Giraldo performed many of their standard classics including such hits as Heartbreaker, Go, Hell Is For Children, Hit Me With Your Best Shot, and others. As with all skilled and schooled performers, Benatar made room for her audience to join her vocally in several songs. The Riverbend audience not only responded loud and clear, unlike many moments of audience sing-a-longs the crowd of thousands kept time — now that’s unusual.
Accepting the fact that there is always another talented performer ready to step in at any given moment and deliver, and that all of us have personal favorites. Much of what happens to any of us during those special moments can never be changed to something that might have been. Accepting that part of life is imperative and most of us make the best of such moments. Perhaps in the long tally of life’s moments, each and every individual that shared last night’s special moments will embrace them with the warmth and affection with which they were bestowed. Thank you Mr. and Mrs. Giraldo, please visit us again.