Words & Deeds

Michael Deeds: Wanna see Pat Benatar’s replacement at the Fair? You better run

Love is a battlefield, Pat Benatar says. Well, so is touring. Fans found that out the hard way this week when Benatar backed out of her Western Idaho Fair performance Aug. 28. Her guitar-playing husband, Neil Giraldo, recently had emergency eye surgery necessitating multiple cancellations.

The news is a heartbreaker for Benatar fans. The scrambling Fair has booked progressive heavy-metal band Queensryche as a last-minute replacement. Or, more accurately, Queensryche’s drummer, bassist and guitarist sans the group’s original singer and best-known ax slinger. They’ve been replaced.

If you’re a Queensryche purist, you’re letting out a giant deflating balloon sound. I get it. But I think the Fair hit us with their best shot.

It’s not unusual for a shell of a band to perform at a county fair. It definitely won’t keep thousands of Pronto Pup-fueled fairgoers from flooding into the grandstands to watch the rejiggered quintet unleash “Eyes of a Stranger” (1988), “Jet City Woman” (1990) or “Silent Lucidity” (1990).

Buy another tall cup of overpriced Budweiser. You won’t even mind that original Queensryche singer Geoff Tate is missing. He reached a legal settlement with his ex-band last year and now leads a separate group called Operation: Mindcrime. (There were two Queensryches touring prior to that.) You might even forget that talented songwriter and guitarist Chris DeGarmo quit Queensryche back in 1997. (He’s probably the smart one.)

Most. Fans. Just. Don’t. Notice. (Or care.) In 2013, a whopping 9,000 people headed to Expo Idaho to see Foreigner, which had one original member left (guitarist Mick Jones). It was more stunning that 3,500 fans showed up that same year for The Guess Who, which should be renamed The Guess Who Still Is In The Band.

The only question I have for the Fair is: Was Carrot Top just not available, guys?