Benatar Cancels Show
Citing Stage Condition

Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo canceled a scheduled June 21 benefit show at Citrus County Fairgrounds in Inverness, Fla., because of “substandard staging and unsafe conditions,” refusing to allow any of her crew onstage just before showtime.

The postponed show was to benefit Habitat for Humanity, Wounded Warriors and United Way charities – but a look at the stage before Benatar, Giraldo and opening act Brynn Marie were to perform revealed problems that tour manager Jimmy Johnson found unacceptable.

“The safety of our fans, crew, and band must always come first,” Benatar and Giraldo said in a statement.  “With the tragedy at the Indiana State Fair a few years ago, staging and production requirements are at an all-time high.

“The production and staging requirements were unacceptable.  There simply was no option. We apologize to everyone who came to see us. But safety is paramount,” the statement continued.

“We are working to reschedule the performance. In the meantime, all monies have been set aside until the show can be played. Thank you to all who support these three great charities.”

Posted on the pair’s Facebook page, and emailed to Pollstar, is a letter of support for the decision to stop the show from Jeffry Carter, senior safety adviser and expert witness of RMS Safety & Litigation Services, who also identified himself as a retired head of the Occupational Health and Safety Administration who led the Indiana State Fair collapse investigation.

Carter thanked Benatar, Giraldo and their crew “for what was likely a tough decision concerning stage safety and the desire to give your fans what they expect.

“While I am sure there are disappointed fans, the alternative was completely unacceptable. Thank you, you and your staff showed great foresight and courage in making this call.”

Photos said to be of a section of the understage area clearly show unsupported uprights directly under the stage, with lumber attached by c-clamps under the stage’s edge. Local news reports indicate it was raining at the Citrus County fairground livestock pavilion site when gates were to open at 5 p.m.

The stage was provided by TMC Productions of Inverness, Fla., which provided proof of insurance and certification from an engineer with the stage’s manufacturer that it was safe, promoter Deborah Nader of Richard Nader Entertainment told the Citrus County Chronicle.

Nader told Pollstar that engineer Fred Hilpert of Furman & Hilpert Engineering certified the stage before the scrubbed show. Pollstar wasn’t able to immediately contact Hilpert for comment.

The promoter declined to comment further, referring Pollstar to already published local news accounts, but added, “In my opinion the spin Pat Benatar is putting on this is a sad reflection on Pat Benatar and everyone in the industry knows this is just a spin.”

Yet the Benatar/Giraldo Facebook post explaining their version of events contains numerous comments from industry figures as well as fans offering support to the couple for the show stop and putting “safety first.” 

The benefit concert – dubbed WalkerFest for local cardiologist Dr. Dennis Walker who created the event – sold about 1,000 tickets, according to the Citrus County Chronicle