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Bonnie Rates
Bonnie Raitt seated backstage, playing guitar at the Aquarius Theater, Boston, October 5, 1973 © Jeff Albertson

Bonnie Rates

on October 10, 1973 No comments
Lewis Clayton

JACKSON BROWNE topped the bill at the Aquarius Theatre Friday night, but Bonnie Raitt got there first and stole the show.

The crowds turned out to welcome Bonnie back to Boston, and her loyal partisans filled the opulent old Aquarius. Gleefully displaying her purple knee-length crushed velvet boots, Bonnie came out backed by some excellent saxophone work by John Payne, who appeared last week at Passim’s. By the time she was up and doing “You’ve Been In Love Too Long,” an old Martha and the Vandellas song (“this is my James Brown imitation”), the burly, long-haired security guards were having their troubles clearing the aisles.

A little drunk, and very glad to be in Boston, Bonnie sang with clarity and power, although it wouldn’t have taken much to please the thoroughly stoned crowd. Some of her admirers rushed the stage to present her with kisses, a rose, and an empty Schlitz bottle. Testing the range of her voice, she mixed ballads like “Love Has No Pride” and Browne’s “Under the Falling Sky” with boogie tunes like “You’ve Got to Know How” and “Love Me Like A Man,” building to two encores.

Bonnie Raitt backstage playing guitar, with John Payne (soprano saxophone) at the Aquarius Theater, Boston, October 5, 1973
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Bonnie Raitt backstage, clasping a rose and watching hockey on television at the Aquarius Theater, Boston, October 5, 1973
Bonnie Raitt warming up backstage with Freebo (bass) and unidentified guitarist at the Aquarius Theater, Boston, October 5, 1973

If Bonnie Raitt is earthy, then Jackson Browne is slick. He is tall and lean, his hair falls perfectly parted, he sports just a taste of hillbilly in his voice. Friday night Browne did a 40-minute set of his own songs. Plagued by technical difficulties–the worst of them an amp which turned his acoustic guitar into a tinny electric–and uneasy over his place on the bill, Browne seemed uncomfortable on stage and unsatisfied with his band’s performance.

He apologized to the crowd midway through the set. “Billing is one of those things that is decided in Hollywood,” he admitted. “I’d rather follow the atom bomb than Bonnie Raitt.”

Although small groups of Bonnie’s partisans left after each of Browne’s songs, his band played well, and he was brought back for two encores. But the careful orchestration of his hits like “Jamaica”–which was done beautifully–couldn’t compete with Bonnie’s performance.

Browne is one of the most accomplished young songwriters in the country, but his arrangements are too sweet and self-contained to generate enough excitement to follow a boogie band. Only on one or two of his numbers, like “Rock Me On the Water” did his band generate much more than polite applause.

The people who did the billing for Friday night made a classic mistake. They could have done everyone a favor by simply turning the tickets upside down.

Source: © Copyright The Harvard Crimson
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We are rocked to the core to hear of the passing of our dear friend, bandmate and musical genius, Mike Finnigan. He fought his long illness with the same fearlessness and ferocity he brought to every part of his life. Our deepest condolences go out to Candy, Kelly, Bridget and all his family.

Mike was one of the most powerful, virtuosic soul/gospel/blues singers and Hammond B3 players you’ll ever be blessed to hear. Respected and emulated by musicians the world over, his legacy of staggering
performances across his 60+ years career will stand the test of time. He stopped our show nearly every night. There was simply no one like him.

He was whipsmart, incredibly articulate and funny as hell. He was as devoted to his beloved family and friends as he was to helping so many struggling to get and stay sober. He and his wife Candy were instrumental in my own sobriety and I will be forever grateful.

Rest in peace, dear Mike. I know you’ll be shaking that Heavenly Choir to new heights as only you can do.

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