Benatar, at Pier Six tomorrow, finds rock fans follow her into blues


Pat Benatar no longer judges success by how many copies her albums sell.

"This record was a success the day we went into the studio

because we were doing what we wanted to do," said Benatar, who abandoned her rock 'n' roll roots for a blues-drenched new album called "True Love."

But despite the drastic change in format -- sometimes her voice doesn't even sound like the Benatar who was rock's undisputed queen during the early '80s -- commercial success has strangely followed.

"We're almost gold [500,000 units] with this one," Benatar said. "Isn't that amazing!"

What might be more amazing is that, while people aren't flocking to the shows in the tens of thousands as in the past, her live shows that feature a blues-only format have been very well received by the old rock fans.

"We've been very upfront during interviews and promotions about telling people that we aren't playing the old stuff," said Benatar, who will perform at Pier Six Pavilion tomorrow night as a co-headliner with Hall and Oates.

Of course that begs the question, "Why not?"

"Because it would have sucked," she said. "We tried working out some of the old stuff blues style and it sounded awful. Besides, we couldn't afford to carry two bands -- one for rock and one for blues -- on the road."

Her backing band for the album and for the tour has been her husband and guitarist Neil Giraldo, keyboardist Charlie Giordano and the Rhode Island outfit Roomful of Blues.

"It's almost like being a brand new act," Benatar said. "Our deal with Chrysalis was over after the last record and we shopped this project around and went back to them. We have had to make all new friends at radio stations won't touch this record. It's been a learning experience,kind of like it was in the beginning."

So,at 38,are the rock 'n roll days of Pat Benatar gone forever?

" I wouldn't say that," Benatar said. " We don't know what we'll do next,but I wouldn't be surprised if we went back to something more contemporary."

* The concert calender

Merriweather Post Pavilion has Joan Rivers (tomorrow), the Beach Boys and the Everly Brothers (Sunday), Bob Weir and Rob Wasserman (Aug. 1), Liza Minnelli ( Aug. 2), Willie Nelson (Aug. 3) and Huey Lewis and The Subdudes (Aug. 4).

Hammerjacks welcomes Mr. Big and The Lost (Saturday), Aldo Nova (Wednesday), White Trash (Aug. 2), Wrathchild America (Aug. 3), Dan Reed Network (Aug. 10), Three Dog Night (Aug. 13), Badlands (Aug. 17), Southgang (Aug. 24) and White Lion and Saigon Kick (Aug. 25).

The Arena hosts the Club MTV Tour, featuring Gerardo, Bell Biv Devoe, Tara Kemp and C&C; Music Factory (Aug. 7).

Max's On Broadway has Don Dixon and Marti Jones (Monday and Tuesday), Al Stewart (Aug. 7) and Koko Taylor (Aug. 22).

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