July 20, 1998
Pat Benatar rolled into the House Of Blues on July 7 to a welcoming crowd who obviously had been fans for a long time. Scattered throughout the audience were flowers, cards, books of poems - even a tambourine with long ribbons - which were given to her during her set. The crowd was really good for a Tuesday night - both the first and second floor of the HOB were full. Benatar's set was just under two hours, but it included a broad range of songs - from some of her earliest hits ("My Clone Sleeps Alone") through her later rocking songs ("Hit Me With Your Best Shot") and finishing up with a new number, which may show up on her next CD.
Pat's voice doesn't quite have the range from her early days, but it's still very strong and her newer songs have matured with her voice. Her last CD, "Innamorata", is an excellent collection, with a broad range of styles from rocking to introspective. One of the best numbers on the album - and the most requested song of the set - was an acoustic ballad called "Papa's Roses", which was done with just a single vocal and acoustic guitar. This provided one of the show's highlights.
Benatar's longtime guitarist and husband Neil Giraldo, also known by the nickname "Spyder", switched guitars multiple times during the set, changing from a metalflake custom guitar to acoustic depending on the song. At the last HOB show a few months back, he mentioned that the custom guitar was built by a fan and given to him as a present. Giraldo is one great guitar player, a veteran of studio work, who has played on every Pat Benatar album from the beginning. They will be celebrating (according to Neil) their 20th anniversary next year and releasing a four CD box set with classic songs, outtakes and never released material.
The sound mix during the night was really all over the place. The vocals were excellent all night long; however, the music mix varied from excellent to muddied. Mostly, the lead guitar was low in the mix and not up front where a lot of the songs needed it.
Opening act "Sparkle", who also opened for Benatar at the last HOB show, sort of reminded me of the bubble headed cheerleader from just about any high school. She spent a lot of the set bouncing up and down, and having problems with her long white dress which was coming undone in the back. Her voice is pretty good - a bit short on power, particularly when compared to Pat Benatar - but her song selection was a bit unusual, even including the classic rock song "Johnny B. Goode" done in a jazz type soul singer mode. Her backup band was excellent, particularly the guitar player, who really added to her set.
Overall...Pat Benatar gets a 10, HOB soundguys get a 7, and "Sparkle" gets a 7.5.
Murf is a registered professional engineer....(i.e. haircut and a real
job) who loves to play guitar. Vist Murf's home page. He lives with
(1) wife who
wishes he would grow up, (1) teenager who wonders how his parents got to
this point in their lives without his help, (2) dogs who sleep a lot,
(1) ferret who attacks when not looking and (1) cat who is basically
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