Pat Benatar & Neil Giraldo 35th Anniversary Tour at Fred Kavli Theatre

benatar2Pat Benatar & Neil Giraldo 35th Anniversary Tour, Fred Kavli Theatre at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza, August 7, 2015

The rocking 80’s were back with an all-out vengeance when the legendary duo of Pat Benatar & Neil Giraldo took to the stage at the beautiful Fred Kavli Theatre in Thousand Oaks on a Friday night. After a brief yet wonderfully informative video clip telling the story of how Neil met Pat, the stage lights burst on and the epic refrains of Shadows Of The Night reverberated throughout the cavernous venue. The opening song was vast and magical, and remains one of the most inspiring rock anthems of the ages. It would be difficult to top such a grand commencement, but we are talking the duo of Benatar/Giraldo with massive hits galore – there were plenty of memories to made. Now celebrating the second year of their 35th Anniversary Tour, the entire evening swept the concert goers into a tremendous state of auditory bliss.

The hits just kept up coming from the combustible All Fired Up from Wide Awake In Dreamland to the edgy Invincible from Seven The Hard Way.  Pat Benatar looked absolutely stunning, still possessing a voice that can soar into the stratosphere. Neil Giraldo shreds away effortlessly on guitar with the skills of a true virtuoso – and one clearly sees the exhilarating chemistry between the long running partnership. Benatar would remark that this particular date felt like a hometown show, because “we are only 12 miles away from our house.” Neil would affectionately call her “Patricia” and she would dub her partner in crime “Spider.”

In addition to all of the hits, it was fantastic to hear some deep cuts in the show. This would include a rambunctious version of Go for their 2003 album of the same name – a gem of a disc that is super difficult to find. Another treasure was the sweet and bluesy Strawberry Wine from the vastly underrated Innamorata, Benatar’s 1997 effort that was released via the late great CMC International Records. These are two songs this reviewer thought would never be performed live by Benatar & Giraldo, and it clearly shows the duo has been creating marvelous art long after the 80’s spun out of existence. The good news is that at about this time in their set, Ms. Benatar was hinting at the fact that brand new material just may be on the way…

benatar3The most powerful moment of the night arrived when Ms. Benatar spoke of child abuse, and how they would continue to play the next song in honor of the young victims at every show until the domestic crime is completely wiped off the face of the Earth. This song is the heart wrenching Hell Is For Children, still a devastating composition that rips your heart out when unleashed in a live setting.

We all know that Video Killed The Radio Star by the Buggles was the first clip to the played at the premiere of the iconic MTV back in August of 1991. Pat Benatar let us all in on the fact that You Better Run would be the second video ever played on the channel, and they would launch into an explosive rendition of the classic song that nearly tore the roof off the Fred Kavli Theatre.  And since the Buggles were an electronic band, one could easily point out that Neil Giraldo was the first guitarist to rage on the historic music channel.

So many hit songs –countless memories to be shared – all effective conveyed with the one two punch of the fiery Hit Me With Your Best Shot and the heavy beat infusion of Love Is A Battlefield right before the encore. These two selections, and the many others, had each and every member of the crowd singing along – when Pat Benatar actually stopped singing during one of the songs, you could hear the audience continuing on rapturously with the committed-to-memory lyrics.

A tremendously unforgettable performance courtesy of Pat Benatar, Neil Giraldo and band – one that will live on in the hearts and minds of the Thousand Oaks audience for a lifetime. Now excuse me while I get out my Pat Benatar albums and start to rock the hell out! This would include a listening to their recent 35th Anniversary Live CD and DVD combo set, now available worldwide from the folks at Mailboat Records!

(Review by Ken Morton – Photos by Jack Lue)

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