Upstairs, downstairs - tale of two concerts

SIMON SWEETMAN
Last updated 17:03 22/02/2013
Pat Benatar
SASS AND CHARM: Pat Benatar sounded about as good as can be at her Wellington gig this week.

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REVIEW:

Pat Benatar, Bachman & Turner, America Michael Fowler Centre, February 20 

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Pat Benatar sounded amazing, once I'd moved downstairs. The sound upstairs at the Michael Fowler Centre was abysmal - as if blowflies were powering the amplifiers, a treacly sludge making its way towards the audience in place of actual sound. If I was a paying customer I'd want my money back for being seated there.

So, two songs in, we make the change and downstairs it's a whole other show. Benatar sounds about as good as can be - she has sass and charm, she gives good banter and when she's All Fired Up, as it were, well, it's about as close to the record as can be.

But it felt like a truncated set, given the triple-bill status - Bachman & Turner taking not enough care about their business perhaps?

Much has been made about Neil Giraldo, Benatar's husband and guitarist. The concert ticket features his name - clever marketing, the couple playing up their marriage, a rarity in rock circles (they in fact celebrated their 31st wedding anniversary by playing the Wellington show).

But let's be honest here, he may have given her the rock to wear but it's his job to provide the rock from the stage as a hired hand. Not a superstar. Not a name of any note. He is just a guitarist - and one with a shocking glass-cutter tone. The rhythm section was flat and boring.

The songs, well, come on, they're often horrible, sub-Meatloaf/Kiss turgid rockers but the best ones, particularly the brace of Hit Me With Your Best Shot and Love is a Battlefield were great; keeping the troops happy.

Randy Bachman and Fred Turner, of blue-collar Canadian highway rollers Bachman-Turner Overdrive, are now simply Bachman & Turner. Though an addition to their name could be Cruise Control, appearing, as they did, like any RSA covers band of old-age rockers. But with loads of cowbell and down-stroke riffing, the drinkers in the crowd were in heaven.

America opened the show with country-ish pop. They sounded ghastly - but I'm blaming the seats as much as anything.

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- The Dominion Post

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