May 16, 2016 Pat Benatar & Neil Giraldo Magical At The Paramount Huntington, NY 5-10-16
Female Rocker Pat Benatar has been a music icon for over three decades. The classically trained mezzo-soprano had dreams of making a name for herself in the music industry, but never in her wildest dreams would she imagine during the 1980s she would attain a slew of platinum-selling albums and fifteen Top 40 singles. Not only was she a massive success, but Benatar could be credited for assisting in breaking down the barrier in a Rock industry dominated by men, thus influencing future generations of female musicians.
Teamed up with Neil Giraldo back in 1979, they would soon become one of the most powerful duos in Rock-n-Roll. Since that time, Giraldo helped pen numerous hits, arranged and composed music, played guitar and keyboards, not to mention provided backing vocals on Benatar’s biggest songs and albums. All the time Benatar being his muse, what blossomed over the years of creating music and touring together has become one of Rock-n-Roll’s greatest love affairs. Twenty-four years of marriage and two children later, they are still at the top of their musical career as both Benatar and Giraldo tour year after year. Looking to do something a little different, 2016 brings on the tour dubbed as “A Very Intimate Acoustic Evening With Pat Benatar & Neil Giraldo.” Benatar and Giraldo have always been known for their heavy Rock anthems, so a chance to see it all broken down acoustically, was both compelling and inviting to fans.
With that said, they brought the tour to The Paramount in Huntington, New York on Tuesday, May 10th. Located just a mere fifteen minute drive from Benatar’s hometown of Lindenhurst, it was a big welcome home party of sorts. A name Long Islanders proudly like to call one of their own, Benatar has been a part of the Long Island Music Hall of Fame since 2008, and every time she returns to the area, it is an event. She has visited The Paramount on several occasions and this latest return was met by an energetic packed house. In fact, at one point during the show, Benatar playfully asked the audience, “Is there anyone here who did not go to my high school?” In addition, having Giraldo with her was special since she explained at one time that he loved coming back to her home state because of the food, especially cannolis.
The night started out with twenty-one year old Long Island Singer and Songwriter Kevin Edmond Burke. Burke came out to sing and play piano for the crowd that was drawn to his Ballad and Pop mix of songs. He sang and performed his songs with emotion and warmed up the listeners for what was to come next. At one point in his set, Burke stated that it “was surreal” in terms of opening up for Benatar and Giraldo.
Having released his debut EP independently in the fall of 2015, entitled Waiting Season, Burke’s set list was based off songs from the EP and brand new songs such as “Please Come To New York,” “Kennedy,” “Season,” and “Snow on Sand.” Truly a talented pianist and songwriter, he has the makings of a name for himself in the music industry.
As it was almost time for the main festivities, The Paramount was packed from top to bottom. As the lights went dark, the crowd went wild, just as two screens on both side of the stage started rolling pictures, videos, and stories of Benatar and Giraldo. Each taking turns speaking of their youth, their rise, history, and what brought them together, as the video ended, the stage lights went up and Benatar and Giraldo stepped onto the stage while roars and screams could be heard. As Benatar sat on a red stool in front of a microphone and Giraldo stood next to her in front of his own, Benatar talked about how this was a special night to be back in her hometown, that they had done an acoustic night like this and how they enjoyed it.
The first song of the night was “All Fired Up” and Benatar’s voice shot through the crowd as time has only made her singing even more powerful. Meanwhile, Giraldo was rocking out on his guitar as fans were singing along. From the start, it was easy to see both Benatar and Giraldo were truly invested in the crowd, singing and playing to them, but also looking back at each other all the while. Benatar put her hands in a praying position as a sign of thanks as the song ended. Giraldo addressed the crowd, making jokes about how when he comes to this part of New York he seems to gain an accent. As “We Live For Love” started, Benatar showed off her operatically trained vocals during the chorus that just added a beautiful richness to the song.
The beloved singer then stated that this was her thirty fifth anniversary of being in the industry, met by a series of applauds raining down from the audience. This led into “Promises in The Dark,” which truly touched fans as they sang every note and were invested in every ounce of the show. If there is one thing to be said, the duo fed off of each other’s energy as Benatar clapped and even got so into the music she began to mimic guitar playing. Moving on, Giraldo started “In These Times,” picking his guitar to the ballad, then began strumming, bringing an upbeat tempo to the song during the chorus. This soulful song seemed to bring Benatar and Giraldo away to another time and place as they sung together at moments and fans could not help but noticed the true connection that the pair have.
They continued to keep the set interesting by going into a rendition of Prince’s “When Doves Cry,” in honor of the late great musician. The rendition was breathtaking and upbeat as a backing track from the original song played as Benatar and Giraldo passionately sang. Fans went crazy and were dancing along, and when the song stopped, another began in the form of “We Belong.” Elated to hear the 1984 hit, the audience took over singing so loudly that they overpowered Benatar. Changing up some of the vocal parts for the acoustic edition of the track, it truly showcased that she still has one of the best voices in the industry. Before the next song, Benatar proudly stated that it was the second ever played by a band on MTV and Giraldo was the first guitarist ever played on the station in a video. Those unfamiliar with the history of MTV, that song was Benatar’s cover of The Young Rascals’ “You Better Run.” Released as a single in 1980, it in fact aired on MTV as of August 1, 1981, Giraldo and Benatar both rocked out in its honor as many fans clapped along.
Moving the set right along, Giraldo threw out some guitar picks and stated this next song is a Blues story, not, per say, a Blues song. Pondering what he meant, the audience was led into “Outlaw Blues,” where Benatar joined with a shaker in her hand, while she and Giraldo’s vocals harmonized beautifully. Appearing to be one of their favorite songs to sings together, the audience picked up on the good vibrations and grooved along with the guitar. Next, Giraldo and Benatar began the emotional track “Hell is For Children” for about a verse. It was a nice segue into 1989 cut “True Love,” which showcased Benatar’s sensual vocals and diverse range. Going from highs to lows, at times a growl could even be heard in her voice as Giraldo jammed out a beautiful guitar solo.
Bringing on more surprises, Giraldo spoke next about how he wrote Rick Springfield’s 1981 hit “Jessie’s Girl.” With a smile, he said if anyone came across Springfield, tell him you know who wrote it, to watch Benatar and the crowd let out a good laugh. Beginning the track, he abruptly stopped to move into “Hit Me With Your Best Shot,” which was met with the entire room singing along with each word. Taken back by the response, as the house lights went on, Benatar even got up off her stool and held her microphone out to the fans to sing as she stood there quiet, watching in awe. Completely pumped up, some fans were screaming, “We love You Pat” and “Thank You Pat.” Humbling to hear such a reception, Benatar took it all in as Giraldo then began playing some notes on the piano before he picked up his guitar and began “Love Is A Battlefield.” Here, Giraldo and Benatar did an amazing job harmonizing together as the original track played under Giraldo’s live guitar. Perhaps one of her most distinctive hits, the audience went wild screaming and dancing around for what appeared to be the set’s grand finale.
As the lights came on, both Giraldo and Benatar left the stage, but the Long Island fanbase wanted more, whistling and clapping. When the duo re-appeared, a sigh of relief came from the audience, who were happy the show was not over. Giraldo even took a fan’s iPhone to snap a selfie of him and Benatar on stage. A photo never to delete, he handed it back to the luck spectator and asked him to let him know if the picture was alright. A delightful moment, Benatar took up a tambourine and Giraldo started played his guitar to jump-start the encore with “Let’s Stay Together.” Then, concluding the fun evening, a medley followed, starting with Benatar’s famous “Heartbreaker” before going into Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire,” followed by Rory Erickson’s “Don’t Slander Me,” and a sprinkle of Led Zeppelin’s “Heartbreaker,” before erupting back to the end of their “Heartbreaker” where everyone sang at the top of their lungs. As the pair bid farewell and left the stage, fans could be heard talking about how amazing the show was, wishing it was not over, but even the best performances have to end sometime.
For over thirty five years, Pat Benatar has not slowed down for a second, and it proves why she is truly a Rock-n-Roll legend. Sounding better than ever and connecting on a level of love and respect with each other, as well as their fans, there is a magic that comes out of Benatar and Giraldo’s music. Fans were more than drawn in by the storytelling of the meaning behind the songs that were played, as well as the connection and performance by the pair at The Paramount. They now continue along this special acoustic tour through May 22nd before picking up the We Live For Love Tour June 10th, so there are still plenty of chances to catch this great concert, but there is no question they will return to Long Island.