It might seem counterintuitive to pair one of rock’s grittiest, most powerful voices with a world class symphony orchestra. But that’s exactly what the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust did when they booked Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo for an exclusive engagement at historic Heinz Hall. It’s actually not as much of a stretch as it initially seems. Benatar gave up a promising opera career in order to pursue pop music (I liked it too much, I guess.) she said. Classical theater’s loss was one of pop music and MTV’s greatest gains.  37 years after her debut, “In The Heat Of The Night” and 34 years of marriage to Giraldo, the duo are still going strong.

The symphony began the evening with a 20 minute instrumental medley of their music, including “We Belong” and “Heartbreaker.” They were able to keep the fiery core of the songs front and center thanks to booming kettle drums and a string section that held nothing back.

After a short film chronicling their respective careers that eventually intertwined, the couple strolled onstage quietly and drew a raucous ovation from a well-mixed demographic and launched into “Invincible.” Benatar’s iconic mezzo soprano veered between blistering and silky throughout a 10 song greatest hits from the 80s set. While Giraldo’s career path is largely unknown, he is a seasoned producer, sound engineer, songwriter and a highly underrated guitarist. The evening’s highlights were equal parts his incendiary playing and her full throttle vocals.  Benatar prefaced the powerful “Hell Is For Children” by referencing the recent violence around the world with disgust, proclaiming:  “This is a song I hope we never have to sing again.” Giraldo punctuated the mood with scorching, angry power chords. “Promises In The Dark” was less fire and brimstone but equally as energetic. Though there was little doubt that she could have hit it, Benatar skipped the chorus’s signature ear shattering high note in favor of a lower register delivery.

The couple are still very much in love as evidence by their playful, unscripted stage banter. Giraldo always referred to her deferentially as “Patricia.” He noted at one point. “Every couple has an aggressive one and a passive one. In the studio, I’m the aggressive one, but at home and everywhere else, Patricia is definitely the aggressive one.  Benatar laughed it off but with a look of recognition that he indeed was speaking the truth, as they both have been musically for nearly 40 years.

for more visit: