Pat Benatar's quick rise to superstardom is one of rock's least interesting tales, at least musically. Benatar has found a big, mainstream audience with a big, mainstream sound fashioned from concise hard rock dynamics, a flair for big hooks and her passionate, overwrought singing. Her show at the Capitol Centre last night was enthusiastically received by a crowdthat came for the hits and got them and lots of equally tough, if less memorable, material. Impressive throughout was her band, easily one of the most anonymous but accomplished hard-rock outfits around.
Perhaps the most exciting part of the show was Neil Geraldo's guitar work, a virtual primer of arena rock effects. On fast rockers like "Treat Me Right," he underscored Benatar's histrionic delivery with stinging leads that were as flashy as they were economical. Although Benatar's voice is not a subtle instrument, her operatic range was well employed, especially on theatrical numbers like "Precious Time." By the end of her fast-paced show, Benatar had hit the crowd with her best shot and it was enough to get most of them on their feet dancing.
Electric keyboards often seem to bring the pretentious out in rock bands and the opening act, Saga, had two of them. Not surprisingly, its music was full of extended compositions with orchestral style movements and arty motifs. They even dragged out a clarinet in their grandiose set that reminded one of the worst moments of Emerson, Lake and Palmer.