Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo Vetterstone Ampatheatre Mankato, MN 8/5/17

This is one of those incredibly easy reviews for me because I’ve been such a fan for so long. I don’t want to use the term legacy act because it seems like it has a tendency to put an artist in a box. So instead I think I’ll use bucket list artist, someone that you need to see before they stop touring. I first became aware of Pat Benatar in 1979 with the release of her first album and her huge hit “Heartbreaker”.  For the most part I’ve liked everything they’ve released over the years and the two of them seem to have formed a bond musically as well as personally that’s to be admired.

I saw them a number of years ago at the Minnesota zoo and they were absolutely wonderful. Last night was no different, they brought it and the audience loved it! The one thing that Pat said that I found a little off-putting as a fan is that they have “the holy 14”. A list of 14 songs that they have to play so that people will be happy and write nice stuff on Facebook. I know she was kidding about all that but it’s sad that an artist feels that they have to play a certain number of songs to make an audience happy. I know all bands have to do this, they are not the only ones.  Especially in this case because their catalog is so deep with incredible material that I wish they were immune to it. As a fan, there are few minor hits that I would love to have seen them play that I believe the audience still would’ve been engaged in. A perfect example would be the “Ooh Ooh song”, “Le Bel Age” and “True Love”. But again that’s nothing more than wishful thinking from someone who considers themselves a big fan.

It was a great mix of music last night. They dug all the way back to the first album and played the hits throughout their career you would expect. But they did throw in a couple of surprises that made the show even more worthwhile to someone like me. I would say my favorite song of the night was “Everybody Lay Down” off of their 1993 release “Gravity’s Rainbow”. The also added “Run Between The Raindrops”. And to answer your question, yes they did “Hell Is For Children”.

 One other quick thing I’d like to mention is they told the audience that this was going to be a political free zone. That they were tired of politics and were not going to talk about it. I for one was so incredibly grateful for that. I don’t care what side of the fence you stand on, just don’t talk about it at a concert. I go to see music to escape all of the nonsense of the regular world. I simply want to be entertained, I don’t want to be preached to. So a huge thank you to Pat for avoiding all of that.

They closed out the night with a mix medley of songs in the middle of their hit “Heartbreaker”, the song that started it all. This is some of the stuff that really makes Neil Giraldo stand out as an incredible musician. I truly believe he is one of the greatest rock guitar players of our time. But he doesn’t seem to get his due the way so many others have. I’m not really sure why but I put them in the same category as David Johnstone incredible guitar player for the Elton John band. I could sit and listen to the two of them all night long. Pats incredibly beautiful vocals and Neil’s amazing guitar playing. They are truly a bucket list act. I don’t care if you know one single song by them, you need to get out there and see them play live. You will not regret it and you will thank me for that.

Photos and review by Tommy Sommers.