Bonnie Raitt with Mose Allison and Sippie Wallace – May 10, 1975
Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan
Blues artist Bonnie Raitt disdainfully rejected the mantle of popular glitter rock and roll Saturday night at the Men’s Intramural Building.
“I’d like to do a song by John Prine, “Angel From Montgomery,” she said. “I would have done something by Elton or Mick, but the set is too short, and so are they.”
Raitt and her four-man band cooked their blues songs down to the essentials, without being simplistic. Her guitar passages powerfully highlighted her gutsy, yet refined vocals.
Aware of the rhythm and blues heritage that had influenced her, when she sang “To believe in this livin’ is just a hard way to go,” her plaintive voice begged whatever powers that be to “Make me an angel that flies from Montgomery.”
Whether awing the audience with her supple, primal voice, or treating them to lean, cliche-free, sparkling guitar riffs, Raitt proved herself the same versatile performer live in concert that she is on her record albums.
Her soulful, grinding rendition of “Love Me Like a Man” proved Raitt’s exceptional talent for being earthy yet cultivated. Her vocal and instrumental lines, pared down to the raw essentials’ were wrapped around her bassist Freebo’s phrases and artfully intertwined with her band’s sexually pulsating sounds.
She presented a balanced program, performing songs by Ray Charles, Jackson Browne and some tunes that she had written. All of her music clearly showed the blues heritage that she has inherited and molded into her own style.
Mississippi Wallace’s “You Can Make Me Do Anything You Want,” with the bandsmen singing the backup vocals in falsettos, provided a humorous, interesting change of pace for Raitt’s portion of the concert.
She was totally involved in her music. Her songs were a labor a love, about the labor of love. However, unlike the girl in her song, she has not been in love too long. Her music endures.
She is also involved in causes. Raitt urged the departing audience, who had demanded and received a three-song encore at 2 a.m., to contribute to the Wounded Knee defense fund.