There is a coming-of-age milestone that is hit when, as a young teenager, one attends their first rock concert. It’s a rite of passage, one that Darin Wolf made in 1981 while a 14-year-old kid in junior high school going to see Pat Benatar.
“Going to see her is a memory I’ll never forget,” said Wolf, who today serves as a math teacher and coach at Burbank High School. “It was my first concert, and I’ve been a fan of hers ever since.”
Having had the opportunity of making many more memories by going to see Benatar play live on numerous occasions over the past four decades, Wolf chalked up yet another one this past week, as he attended her performance at Burbank’s Starlight Bowl.
Wolf was joined by a group of about 50 VIP ticket holders who were invited into the bowl before the gates opened, were given limited edition tour shirts, and then treated to a pre-show sound check performance and question-and-answer session by the legendary rocker Neil Giraldo, who also happens to be Benatar’s husband.
Acknowledging Wolf from the stage, Giraldo addressed his question as to what song or songs is their favorite to do live.
“We think of each one of our songs like a child, so it’s impossible to pick a favorite,” Giraldo told Wolf. “However, there are just some nights when we’re in a certain mood and really dig getting into something in a minor key.”
Benatar, who along with her husband both commented on what a great venue the Starlight Bowl is, fielded questions about her operatic vocal training and on if fans can expect a new album anytime soon.
“I am always grateful for my formal training,” said the rocker, whose iconic short-and-sassy, punk-style brown hair has given way to long silver locks she had adorned with hints of blue and drawn back in a ponytail.
“Being formally trained made me a disciplined singer — a strict student when it comes to executing a song,” she said. “Along with that, it has also helped save my voice.”
As to her answer on a forthcoming album, Benatar shrugged.
“I believe that to do an album, it has to feel right, and I’m just not feelin’ it right now,” she admitted. “It’s not that we don’t have a lot of great songs ready to go, but it will happen when it feels right.”
Benatar and Giraldo, who were married in 1982, are now grandparents, have created 19 Top 40 hits, sold more than 30 million “records” and have won an unprecedented four consecutive Grammy Awards, also told the pre-show fans how excited they were to be back performing for the first time in over 18 months. The couple, whose current tour is billed as “De Novo 2021,” said the name indicates that the show will be one in which they will reach for old songs, but perform them anew.
Following the sound check, the doors were open and the largely baby boomer crowd filed in. Among two of the most excited to be in attendance were Talin Fung and Edith Mirzaian, who were wearing matching “We Live For Love” shirts.
“We’ve seen her over a million times,” Mirzaian exclaimed.
“So this is like the millionth and sixth time,” Fung added with a laugh.
Standing out among the arrivals for the show were John Burroughs High School graduate Jamie Cline and actor Tanner Buchanan, who was dressed in a full-length faux fur coat. As twentysomethings — the youngest in the crowd — Cline said her parents were Pat Benatar fans so she has grown up with her music.
Buchanan — best known for his roles as Leo Kirkman in the ABC political drama “Designated Survivor,” Robby Keene in the Netflix series “Cobra Kai” and Mason Kendall in the Nickelodeon series “Game Shakers” — agreed with Cline, saying he also grew up with her music. As to why he opted for a faux fur on a hot summer night, he laughed. “Hey, it’s a special night. We’re going to see Pat Benatar, so I wanted to do it up right!”
At dusk, Benatar took to the Starlight’s stage and for the following two hours performed some of her best hits, including “Heartbreaker,” “We Live for Love,” “Hit Me With Your Best Shot,” “Hell Is For Children,” “Love Is a Battlefield” and “We Belong.”
The Starlight Bowl 2021 series continues on Sept. 17 with an appearance by the Beatles tribute band the Fab Four. The season, which runs through Oct. 23, will also include shows starring the Temptations, the Four Tops, Kenny Loggins, Engelbert Humperdinck and Andranik Madadian, an Iranian-Armenian-American singer-songwriter and actor who has collaborated with Jon Bon Jovi and La Toya Jackson.
You can check out the full lineup and purchase tickets by visiting starlightbowl.com.
DAVID LAURELL may be reached by email at email@example.com or (818) 563-1007.