Bonnie Raitt’s been around long enough to have ghosts — or at least friendly spirits — all over the country. And she was feeling them when she and her band hit Ann Arbor for the fifth show of their North American tour supporting Raitt’s new album, “Souls Alike.”
An effusive Raitt told the sold-out crowd at the Michigan Theater all about her past in the town, right down to meeting support act Stephen Bruton at a 1971 gig opening for Kris Kristofferson at nearby Hill Auditorium. She also shouted out to friends and heroes in the crowd, including mandolinist David Grisman, gospel singer Marianne Williams and Ron Harwood, who managed the late roots great Sippie Wallace. Raitt performed the latter’s “Mighty Tight Woman” during the show, with Bruton guesting.
Mostly, though, Raitt’s 19-song, 100-minute was for the living — and was a testament to her enduring creative vitality. She played seven songs from the self-produced “Souls Alike,” three of them right off the bat with the smooth ‘n’ slinky “Love on One condition” (written by keyboardist Jon Cleary), the moody “God Was in the Water” — which featured one of Raitt’s arrestingly supple slide guitar solos — and the anthemic “I Will Not Be Broken.” Throughout the night she paid tribute to the various writers whose songs she recorded for the new album, including Randall Bramblett and Maia Sharp.
Raitt’s past was hardly ignored. She deployed her hits throughout the show, touching on favorites such as “Luck of the Draw,” “Something To Talk About,” “Love Sneakin’ Up on You,” a show-stopping rendition of “I Can’t Make You Love Me” and a subtly re-arranged “Love Letter,” which was funkier and more clipped than its recorded counterpart. Raitt also delighted her fans by digging into her repertoire for both recent albums tracks like “Gnawin’ on It” and “Spit of Love” but also rarities such as “Papa Come Quick (Jody and Chico)” and “Matters of the Heart,” the latter from her 1995 live album “Road Tested.”
Still fresh in their return to the touring circuit, Raitt and her four-member band were typically tight — almost intuitively so as she, Cleary and guitarist George Marinelli seamlessly traded solos over the sturdy rhythm section of bassist James “Hutch” Hutchinson and drummer Ricky Fataar. The quintet never let the throttle out too much but played with adroit control, and a closing two-fer of Jr. Walker & the All Stars’ “Road Runner” and “Bad Case of Loving You” showed these 50-somethings could still rock with some abandon.
The spirits hovering in Ann Arbor were undoubtedly pleased. But the fans in the seats were probably happier — especially when Raitt promised she and the band would be back for another tour in the summer of 2006.
Here is Bonnie Raitt’s set list:
“Love on One Condition”
“God Was in the Water”
“I Will Not Be Broken”
“Gnawin’ on It”
“Matters of the Heart”
“Spit of Love”
“Papa Come Quick (Jody and Chico)”
“Mighty Tight Woman”
“Two Lights in the Nighttime”
“Something To Talk About”
“Love Sneakin’ Up on You”
“I Don’t Want Anything To Change”
“I Can’t Make You Love Me”
“Bad Case of Loving You”
Source: © Copyright Billboard