The highly-anticipated Bonnie Raitt show in Pentiton easily lived up to its expectations.
The 13-time Grammy Award winner played to a sold-out South Okanagan Events Centre, Friday, combining a greatest hits show with numbers from her most recent album, Just Like That, winner of three Grammys at the 2023 ceremony in February.
Backed by four musicians with a playing time of one hour, 50 minutes, what sticks out in my mind was how well behaved — almost subdued — the audience was. Opening act, Royal Wood, had the undivided attention of the audience, something rare for an opener. When Raitt took the stage at 9 p.m., there wasn’t much singing, dancing and unnecessary chatter, the crowd seemed mesmerized.
It’s not that they weren’t appreciative. The 73-year old Raitt, received five standing ovations, the first came before she played a single note.
She made references to political issues including praise for Canadians on truth and reconciliation. She had a flag of the Ukraine on stage lending her support to the people of the Ukraine. She quipped about “the election” in the States. Some forget that Raitt, before she became a household name, was better known for her activism in the late 1970s than her music (No Nukes with Jackson Browne and others.)
Much of the night’s material came from Nick of Time, her 1989 comeback which was her tenth studio album. It reached No. 1 on the Billboard charts at the time of hiphop, grunge and boy bands. She was hardly an overnight sensation.
Unfortunately for Raitt, Nick of Time won the Album of the Year Grammy for producer Don Was in the same year that Milli Vanilli won Best New Artist. No explanation required.
Back to Friday’s show.
Raitt handed out praise for many of her collaborators, mainly John Prine, who died of COVID during the early days of the pandemic and “my favourite Canadian” Shirley Eikhard, who wrote Raitt’s biggest chart success Something to Talk About. (Eikhard died last December of cancer at age 67.)
That song came surprisingly early in the night as she saved her signature song (for die-hard Bonnie Raitt fans) Angel From Montgomery by Prine, a song you never get tired of hearing, until the end of the show.
As one of three encores, she invited Royal Wood back on stage (nice touch) for a song by another Canadian, Lovers in the Dangerous Time by Bruce Cockburn. Awesome!
She even hinted that she’d like to return to Penticton. According to a website of set lists, her performance in Penticton ran overtime from others earlier in the tour.
As for Wood’s set, although extremely mellow, the Toronto musician has a beautiful voice, is a good storyteller and was accompanied by three skilled musicians.
For those who missed Friday’s show, Wood will be playing solo at The Dream Café in the New Year. As for Raitt, to have a better idea of the quality of her live shows, check out her 1995 live album Road Tested.
The Canadian leg of the Just Like That tour now moves to Alberta and Saskatchewan for a series of dates before closing at Massey Hall in Toronto on Oct. 6.