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At Leader Bank Pavilion, Bonnie Raitt’s excellence is no surprise

At Leader Bank Pavilion, Bonnie Raitt’s excellence is no surprise

on June 18, 2022 No comments
By Stuart Munro

Bonnie Raitt is nothing if not generous, and during her 90 minutes onstage at Leader Bank Pavilion Friday night, that characteristic showed up again and again. She made sure the audience knew who was playing with her by introducing her band (including Boston’s own guitar master Duke Levine — ”hometown team!,” Raitt exclaimed) after the second song instead of toward the show’s end. She gave shout-outs by name to some of her longtime Boston friends and to former Globe music critic Steve Morse. And she paid tribute to musical contemporaries, particularly to John Prine (“I miss him every day”) before playing a hushed version of the Prine song she has made her own, “Angel from Montgomery.”

As usual, she also gave flashes of her characteristic outspokenness and compassion. She made sure to point out the Ukrainian flag displayed onstage and went on to characterize Vladimir Putin with a choice epithet and to remark that what he was inflicting on Ukraine had a level of cruelty and barbarism that she’d never seen before.

And, as usual, she offered a set that didn’t veer radically from her wont. She is touring behind her latest album, “Just Like That . . . ,” so she gave a good sampling of the record, leading things off with “Made Up Mind” and then the plenty funky anthropomorphization of addiction, “Waitin’ for You to Blow.” The title track, which she sat down and took to acoustic guitar to play, was a beautiful musical display of her compassion. “Livin’ for the Ones,” her memorial to pandemic losses, had a touch of early Bonnie and rocked as hard as anything she’s ever done, while the soulful “Blame It on Me” indicated that the ravages of time have not visited themselves upon the places she is able to take her powerful voice.

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Alongside the new was the tried-and-true: “Angel from Montgomery,” “Something to Talk About,” the reggae-tinted “Have a Heart,” break-out song “Nick of Time,” and “No Business,” which gave the evening’s first taste of Raitt’s singular bottleneck whine.

There were a couple of forays off the beaten track, notably for “Back Around,” her cowrite with Malian griot Habib Koité, which she called a “concoction” of Malian blues and John Lee Hooker; she played it on resonator guitar, paired with Levine’s acoustic, to marvelous effect. But by and large, this was a familiar performance, and it showed Raitt still doing what she does best.

The effects of the stroke that opener Lucinda Williams suffered in November 2020 were clearly evident during her time onstage (and she talked about them), but what was also evident was that she has overcome whatever effects it had on her singing voice, which seemed stronger than ever. A simmering, extended take on her “Are You Down” was a highlight of her hour-long set.


Source: © Copyright The Boston Globe

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