’79 to ’19: Forty Years of Rock “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” stars rock The Cowan

By Marcuz Valenzuela • Staff writer

Drums, piano and mic stands are set like thrones for the rock stars, cool hued lights illuminating the stage like a portrait, a picturesque suspended reality. On the back curtain is a banner heralding Pat Benetar and Neil Giraldo’s 40th Anniversary Tour. The crowd roars with cheers as the artists come onto the stage and break through the suspended picture, their music blasting across the theatre.

Not only are they on their tour, but Benetar and Giraldo also announced their 40th wedding anniversary while at the Cowan Center last Tuesday. The iconic rock figures made that night spectacular with music, backstories about their songs and stories of being together through the years.

“I just loved it; it brought us back to the moment,” Tyler local Mitzi Rusk said. “When we were younger listening to the music, we didn’t always wonder how the story came about. So it’s really fun to visit those memories and make them come alive.”

For example, Giraldo told the crowd a story about playing with knobs on a keyboard and creating a song, which was revealed to be Benetar’s 1984 lead single, “We Belong.” Benetar announced to the audience that she intends on performing “Hell Is For Children” every year until the issue of child abuse comes to a resolution. When it comes to the background of her songs, the artist shared with the concertgoers how the meanings can still be illuminated years later.

Similarly contributing to the spectacular effect of the concert, not all of the songs featured in each concert are performed at the next venue. The couple brings different, lesser-known songs or projects to each venue. Tuesday’s show featured a piece from their musical-in-progress, with Giraldo playing the piano and Benetar singing soulfully. Any special-featured songs that were missed can be enjoyed by participating in Benetar’s and Giraldo’s smaller performances across the country, completely dedicated to sharing those lesser-known songs and works-in-progress.

“Towards the end when the crowd was getting into it, that was just awesome,” music major Brent Bassham said. “After all, this is a rock show, and we’re at the Cowan Center. You don’t think a rock legend would show here.”

Fan participation was a key component of the show, with fans cheering, clapping and demonstrating their love for rock when the spotlight shined on them. The energy in the room reached an all-time high when Benetar turned her microphone to the crowd during the performances of “Heartbreaker” and “Hit Me With Your Best Shot.”

Mass communications major Cheyenne Mojica tells a story that would make meeting these rock legends seem like a reunion. Back when Mojica’s family lived in Dallas, her father worked as an appliance repairman at A.A. Anthony. One day, Benetar’s tour bus broke down near the company, and the singer hired them upon opening a phonebook and calling the first name listed. Mojica’s father went on board the bus and fixed the artist’s air conditioner, meeting her quickly before the bus went on its way.

“He always tells me that story when it comes up,” Mojica said. “My parents grew up playing music from the 80’s, being born in the 70’s. I grew up with Pat Benetar playing all around the house.”

Anyone who missed Benetar and Giraldo need not worry. Benetar assured the audience they will come back to Tyler, Texas, ready to share another night of music and stories.

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