Journey, Pat Benatar and Loverboy at the Minnesota State Fair, 9/1/12

Categories: Last Night
Photo by Tony Nelson

Journey, Pat Benatar featuring Neil Giraldo, Loverboy
September 2, 2012
Minnesota State Fair Grandstand

Looking kind of like what a band of dudes who jam out in a suburban basement to Loverboy tunes might look like, the Canadian band Loverboy took to the stage as the sun set on an amazing Saturday night at the Minnesota State Fair. As the Grandstand began to fill for the sold-out crowd eager to rock with an exhausting three-band bill of '80s radio and karaoke staples Loverboy delivered a short but sweet set of their tour de force A-side butt rock they have been known for since their self-titled debut record lit the flame in 1981.

Sounding as if time had never passed, singer Mike Reno led the mostly all original Loverboy lineup and enthusiastic audience through each power pop charged chorus with a strong voice and youthful advance. What would begin as a whole night of sing-alongs, "Lovin' Every Minute of It", "The Kid is Hot Tonite" and "Hot Girls in Love" gave everyone a chance to shout and raise a fist in nostalgic spirit bringing everyone to their feet as if we were in any of the band's iconic music videos.

Photo by Tony Nelson

While guitarist Paul Dean delivered mostly understated solos throughout the set, it was the unmistakable steady groove of bassist Kenneth "Spider" Sinnaeve (who replaced original bassist, Scott Smith who died in a boating accident in 2000) intro to "Turn Me Loose" that really caught fire. With only "Working for the Weekend" providing the final swift knockout for the abbreviated set, Loverboy really left everyone really wanting more.

Next up without hesitation it became obvious why Pat Benatar, who was dressed in a modest Asian style trenchcoat, shares billing with her greaser husband, Neil Giraldo. The couple who've collaborated now for 32 and been married 30 years now reminisced on their successful career playing off each other and often trading stories in between songs. The stage was as much a showcase for "Spyder" to exhibit not only his precious collection of vintage guitars but his dynamic playing and approach. While it may have taken a song or two for Benatar to warm up her husky vocal chords through "All Fired Up" and "Invincible" with Giraldo often switching to piano and acoustic guitar she lead the Grandstand through, "A song I know many of you have sung at karaoke" as the strains of "We Belong" brought an air of sweetness to the otherwise rough and rugged run through of oustanding hits.

"We remember getting the call from our manager this next song was going to be played on this new video music channel," Benatar recalled. "Since the first song they played was all keyboards we can say Spyder was the first guitarist to appear on MTV." As the audience cheered, Giraldo tore into the 1980 single, "You Better Run."

With a kind of bizarre explanation of his guitar of choice he nicknamed "Pain," "Because that's what this guitar causes me." Giraldo baffled even Benatar as the two compounded with a breakneck "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" and "Love is a Battlefield" that had most of the ladies in attendence acting out the dance routine in the famous video.

Finishing off with an extended "Heartbreaker", Benatar delivered a ferocious send up of the confrontational anthem that ultimately climaxed with a detour into Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire" with Giraldo even taking liberty to inject the Led Zeppelin song of the same name for a final blast to knock everyone out.

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