Live Review: Pat Benatar in the land of carnies; James McMurtry tonight…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , — @ 12:51 pm July 2, 2013
Pat Benatar at Memorial Park, June 28, 2013.

Pat Benatar at Memorial Park, June 28, 2013.

by Tim McMahan,

Above photo, taken last Friday from the far edge of stage right at Memorial Park, Pat Benatar but a blur. It could be anyone standing up there, but only one person has that voice, retained in all its guttural glory at age 60. What to say about the show beyond that she played all the hits, and her husband, Neil Giraldo, is one helluva guitar player. Yeah, I could have done without their between-song stories, many of which had no point or were cheesy crowd-fodder (The intro to “Hell Is For Children” was particularly dreadful).

The crowd was unusually rough for this sort of “funday in the park” entertainment. Lots of leather-skinned grifters with bad teeth, crazy-eyed women wearing over-sized, stained tank-tops with unwashed hair lying flat and greasy against their backs, flashing rolls of belly flesh or the awkward thumb-bruise on their thigh. One could write a very lengthy novel if one merely copied all the verbiage scrawled in permanent ink on the necks of their husbands. How did neck tattoos get so popular? When did we as a society decide that face tattoos are appropriate for anyone but carnies and inmates?

One stand-out moment: A young woman in pig tails and stoned-red eyes stumbling back and forth along the plastic snow fence like a real-life zombie, holding her left knee. She purposely tripped over our blanket (and my feet), saying “Sorry, my knee,” holding her lower leg as if it were an unattached, dirty, bruised prosthetic. The young couple in front of us looked genuinely disturbed and concerned, until they noticed she wasn’t looking for help, but rather making rounds through the crowd.

I know, I know, no one forced me to go to a free concert in the park. What did I expect? Still, the event is literally steps from my front door. And besides, where else am I going to get a chance to see bands like Benatar or Huey Lewis last year or Cheap Trick the year before? And for free? I could have gone to Billy Idol Friday night at Stir Cove (where all three above-mentioned performers have played in past years), but why pay $50 for tickets when he’ll eventually wind up at Memorial Park?

Ah, remember when the city put on a “youth concert” in the park a few years ago? Past performers included Bright Eyes, Feist and Gomez. For whatever reason, that concert went away, probably due to loss of a major sponsor (seems like a cellphone company was behind them). It would be nice to have it back, however that concert could be viewed as competition for Maha, who struggles as it is to book a festival-sized indie show (it’s just around the corner, btw). But I don’t see the free “youth concert in the park” returning anytime soon, certainly not with a new shiny mayor dead-set on cutting taxes…

* * *

Tonight at The Waiting Room, acclained singer/songwriter Jame McMurtry plays with The Bottle Rockets. $20, early 8 p.m. start time.

* * *

Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2013 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.