Pat Benatar, Bachman and Turner, and America
Saturday, February 16
They came to rock out - and rock out they did.
From the opening number All Fired Up to her closing encore song Heartbreaker, Pat Benatar and her guitarist husband did not disappoint.
In front of a sell-out crowd of 14,000 in sweltering conditions at the Taupo Ampitheatre on Saturday afternoon, the pioneering American rock star and her band, which featured hubby Neil "Spider" Giraldo on lead guitar and piano, sang and played their hearts out in a 75-minute set which featured all the hits Benatar is known for.
The show is the first in a series of four scheduled for New Zealand, with a concert yesterday at Matakana and further concerts in Wellington and Queenstown this week.
With the official show kicking off at 1pm after a warm-up by Taupo Johnny Cash tribute act Cash - The Man in Black, America opened the first set, providing a mellow backdrop to a hot afternoon and wrapping up with two of their hits, Sister Goldenhair and A Horse With No Name.
Some 40 minutes later hard rockers Randy Bachman and CF "Fred" Turner, of Bachman and Turner, took over, with their driving guitar sounds and drum beats thrilling the crowd and proving a popular choice.
But it was Benatar most people had come to see and she seemed equally pleased to see the punters as they were to see her, apologising for having waited 35 years to come to New Zealand.
All Benatar's top hits were included and her voice was as strong as ever, although she avoided hitting the high notes in songs Promises in the Dark and Love is a Battlefield.
However, the audience was left in no doubt that she could still cut it on stage as she belted out Hell is for Children and Hit Me With Your Best Shot.
Giraldo wowed with his guitar skills and piano playing and the couple's obvious chemistry on stage thrilled the audience.
After an encore Benatar wrapped up with Heartbreaker, which morphed into Johnny Cash's Ring of Fire, before heading back to the original song and wrapping up with a huge guitar solo by Giraldo to put the finishing touches on a crowd-pleasing performance. Benatar promised she'd be back - let's hope she delivers.