Concerts

Mark Knopfler and Bonnie Raitt at Madison Square Garden NY

on September 25, 2019 No comments
by Guy Fletcher

The Iconic Holy Temple of Rock and Roll, as Billy Joel once described Madison square Garden, was to be our final destination of this very special tour. The last time we came here was as Dire Straits in February 1992 and before that, October 1985 when Billy Joel guested. My recollections of that night are well faded but I remember one thing especially, the atmosphere. When I walked out front during Bonnie Raitt’s set tonight, I immediately felt the same surge through my veins and relaxed immediately. “This is going to be a good show”, I thought to myself. Prior to that, there were uncharacteristic nerves. I’m not quite sure why as after playing 85 shows, that kind of thing doesn’t happen. Maybe it was Bonnie’s presence or just the pressure to ensure it was a flawless show to finish the tour with? Go out with a bang… but whatever it was, thanks to this New York crowd, it was gone. 

Here, in New York city, or even across the U.S. for that matter, I’m not sure there is a venue that could match everything that MSG has on offer. It’s what we Brits would call a ‘Tardis’, it looks so much larger from the inside and as Mr. Joel said, it is iconic. The journey from our hotel on 57th Street was interesting as Google maps was suggesting that it was quicker to walk. Midtown Manhattan was still manacled by the effects of the UN general assembly this week and the NYPD deemed it necessary to block of enough streets as to cause virtual gridlock. In fact, last night, walking to a restaurant, we were prevented from crossing 5th Avenue for 10 minutes as that president chap drove by in his motorcade. Anyway, we left the hotel and walked along 58th street to meet the cars, if they’d tried to get to the hotel entrance, it would have been another half an hour added to the journey such is the way the Streets and Avenues run.

Eight Avenue traffic heads North and Seventh, South, as we all know yet today it was slow going down to 32nd, around the venue and into the dock. The inching crawl took about 30 minutes and we were met at the gate by a sniffer dog who cleared the SUV for entry into the building. We climbed the steep ramp and had a mandatory bag search. My suitcase jam-filled with American sweets and foodstuffs (for the boys back home) caused mild amusement. It was destined for the wardrobe case. There’s a bit of space that we can ship personal items home making the check-in at JFK a little easier. 

Great gaggles of local crew were sitting around on chairs chatting about either The Mets, The Yankees, The Jets or the Knicks and even more were driving fork lift trucks, mostly in reverse, as all you could hear was incessant beeping. The one thing that the MSG doesn’t lack is manpower. The union ensures there’s a man in every corner, sometime two or more. Our backline crew barely lift a thing in these places, the good news is, that know what they’re doing. It may be expensive but they know their shit. We headed for the dressing rooms which were perfect in every way. Loads of comfy couches, relaxed lighting and what looked like brand new clean toilets. We waited for Dave hall, our Stage Manager to give the word then headed up to the stage for our last sound check. 

Arriving on stage at sound check, Bonnie Raitt looked every bit as stunning as the last time I saw her on stage with us in 2006 in LA. Her characteristic White flecked Red curly hair and her signature dark wood Stratocaster. We sound checked the song we had been secretly running in sound checks for the past month in preparation for this evening, ‘Wherever I Go’. I have to say that when Bonnie came in singing her verse, I nearly fell off my chair. What a voice. I’d forgotten. She, with her trademark bottleneck slide on her middle finger, exchanged gorgeous solos with Mark on the play-out and we ran the song another couple of times, goosebumps appearing periodically on my arms. Bonnie was quite taken with our band, in particular with Tom and Graeme who played the softest, coolest ‘pads’ in the song. Not easy to do. At one point she said, “My band is gonna sound like mud wrestling after this”. “I don’t think so Bonnie, your band is awesome”.

Ready for the show, Bonnie’s band sound checked and we said hi to a few of the guys in the band. Ricky Fataar is Bonnie’s drummer. An amazing player and we all particularly enjoyed watching him. Aaron Neville’s son, Ivan, was guesting on keyboards too. He’s quite a player. The next couple of hours seems to pass quickly as the arena filled and Bonnie and her band took to the stage. It was a great set and a perfect warm-up for what was to come. We were ready.

Bonnie Raitt - Madison Square Garden NY Sept. 25, 2019
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Bonnie Raitt - Madison Square Garden NY Sept. 25, 2019
Bonnie Raitt at Madison Square Garden NY Sept. 25, 2019

Donning our in-ear monitors for the last time, we hugged, lots, and I mean lots, and headed for the stage. Paul Crockford made his customary Union Jack-embroidered ‘boxing’ announcement and we were off. The energy on the stage was insane but not unexpected. The smiles were everywhere and the band simply relished every note and moment. There was some emotion for all but actual tears were not in evidence. Not so for some of the crew, I learned afterwards. Mark thanked the ‘best crew in the world’ in the middle of the set and we continued on towards the climax of the show. The encores.

Even in my wildest dreams as a teenager, I would never have imagined this moment. Age, 59, singing the intro to Money For Nothing at Madison Square Garden, looking out to a sea of camera phones lighting up eleven thousand smiles. The 85 performances prior to this one seemed like mere warm-ups as the drums kicked in and Mark’s angry, hollow-toned Les Paul fired up on 11 out of 12 cylinders. Then, BANG. That riff. What made it all the more poignant was that in the audience tonight was Neil Dorfsman. Neil engineered and co-produced the album Brothers in Arms and it was he and I who went back into the control room one evening after dinner in Montserrat in December 1984 during recording and added the ‘Dinosaur’ synth part to a track which was destined for the bin. The next day, Mark heard the new energy and added the guitar riff and the rest is as we say, history. We all came back on stage, this time with Bonnie for the second encore , ’Wherever I Go’. OMG at MSG seems an appropriate statement…it was beautiful.

Mark Knopfler and Bonnie Raitt performing “Wherever I Go” at Madison Square Garden NY Sept. 25, 2019 © Eric Selden

Nothing could be more appropriate as we ran our final song of the evening. ‘Going Home. None of us wanted to. The after show party was nothing but joy. All the guests were blown away by the show. Too many names to mention and as usual, never enough time to say hi to everyone. We were soon ushered out by the tired MSG staff and we all piled into the vans and headed for the hotel and a final session at PJ’s pub, open ‘till 4am, around the corned from the hotel. As I write this on an ageing British Airways Boeing 777 midway across the Atlantic, all that remains for me to say is THANK YOU. I mean of course thank you to Mark for enabling this astonishing collection of gentlemen musicians to shine in a way that couldn’t happen anywhere else. Thank you to the fantastic crew who really do ALL the work. We just gallivant around on stage having a ball. Thank you to all our families and loved ones who have supported us throughout and allowed us to be away from home for the best part of 6 months. And of course, last but by no means least, thank you to the fans, to every single one of you who bought a ticket, and came to a concert, sometimes more than one. Your support has been well and truly appreciated by every one of us. As for what happens next, let’s not worry about that now. Let’s just relish this moment and enjoy life with music in it because ‘a life without music, is no life at all’.


Source: © Copyright Guy Fletcher 2019 North America Tour Diary
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Bonnie Raitt: The Metro interview

We spoke with the legendary musician ahead of her show at MSG this week with Mark Knopfler.

on September 23, 2019 No comments
By Pat King

Bonnie Raitt understands that she has been running herself pretty thin these days. In the time since releasing her last album, “Dig in Deep,” in 2016, the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, legendary songwriter and singular guitarist has been out on the road with her band for a nearly four-year tour with only a few breaks in between. This busy schedule will culminate with a huge show this Wednesday, Sept. 25, at Madison Square Garden opening for Mark Knopfler. A perfect way to go out with a bang before a much-needed break. I recently spoke with Raitt to discuss her balance of life on and off the road, her hopes for the next generation of young musicians, and her dedication to fighting for environmental justice.

I can’t wait to see the next crop blow me out of the water. I make it sound like I’m being competitive. But occasionally, I’ll see a young woman who will come up to me and say, ‘You better watch your back’

Bonnie Raitt
Bonnie Raitt © Marina Chavez

You have been on the road for the better part of the past four years. How has touring been?

Bonnie Raitt: Luckily, if I didn’t really love this lifestyle I would have had to give it up a long time ago. So you not only adjust, but I really look forward to getting out on the road. Some balance it better than others. Being a woman and being a daughter of someone who was on the road as well for many years, I try to pay attention to letting people have time at home with their families and keeping the home fires burning. Because when there’s too many broken house repairs, broken relationships, missed holidays with your family and all that — it takes its toll. It’s been really fun. We did two years for my last album, which, we usually do a three-month theater tour followed by two or three months outdoors, double billing with somebody. Then follow into the fall and go into the next year and hit the cities we didn’t do. Then Australia, New Zealand and Hawaii. Somewhere in there, we usually do a couple of trips to Europe and maybe even do another summer outside [tour]. The two-year [tour] is pretty normal. Again, it’s got breaks in the middle. Otherwise, we’d drive each other crazy. And you have to stay out of the market, to make the fans really want to see you again. The fun part about having new songs to play is that it freshens it up for us, too. But I added two more years to this [stretch] with James Taylor offering us to come and tour with him. So we basically stretched out 2018 and 2019 with the James Taylor stuff. Then, the Willie Outlaw Festival was tagged on to the front of me wanting to do Farm Aid again. Then Mark [Knopfler] I think heard our band was still out on the road. So we’re wrapping up a four-year tour at Madison Square Garden opening for one of my favorite people.

There is a new crop of young roots and Americana musicians who owe a great deal to the genre-bending and elastic work you have done for years. Does the current musical landscape give you hope for the future of roots and blues music?

Bonnie Raitt: Well, I never really lost that hope because every decade there have been incredible new musicians. The internet has been a blessing and a curse in terms of digital delivery and people wanting music for free, which isn’t really so great for the artists. Or at least at rates that don’t really compensate the extent of the amount of creativity and work that was put in. We don’t have a seat at the table to decide the rates for a lot of streaming and YouTube and stuff like that. I am really thrilled that the internet allows people to check out who their influences were. They might hear an artist that they love and then they’ll immediately get to read on their website… It used to be more limited access to how we could talk about who influenced us and who we’re enjoying now. It’s instantaneous now. You can tweet about a band that you saw last night or someone will let you know that they just listened to one of your records for the first time. It’s instantaneous and the access to this great historical footage as well as global music and studying to roots of blues. You can get Malyan guitar players from the 1930s and suddenly you can see them on video. So it’s been really exciting for me to see this new crop of, as you say, elastic and eclectic musicians that really understand how to keep these roots traditions going. Then cross-pollinating in the way that Little Feat, Ry Cooder and Paul Simon were for me pioneers in mixing genres. Little Feat and myself, there was never really a home for us on the charts until FM radio, AAA and college stations, you know. When the Americana format started, it really gave an umbrella to multi-generations and multi-genres of music in a way that was never really as legitimized as it is now.

You mentioned the shift in the music industry toward more instantaneous platforms with less of a guarantee of fair compensation. How has that been running your own record label, Red Wing Records?

Bonnie Raitt: It’s better because we get to negotiate a little bit more. But the overall fight for artists’ rights and participation and royalties, that has not been figured out. There have been a lot of strong activists positioned in Washington and there has been some legislation that has come around. But we really have a long way to go in terms of copyrights and ownership. You have to hand it to Taylor Swift in doing what she did, asking for the other artists on Universal to get an improved rate as well as her. We just have to bond together and try to get fair compensation. Otherwise, there’s a lot of people who work on records and promotion who are suffering as well. Thank God I got my foot in the door where I can play live and make a living and support a pretty big-sized band and crew. There are other people starting up for whom clubs are closing or just turning to electronic music. It’s cheaper to just play a CD over the sound system and have a dance night with a DJ than it is to have live music. Having said that, if you open any alternative paper or website for most cities that we tour, there are 20 to 30 bands playing all the time in and out of the week. Whether they’re getting paid or people are buying their CDs, I don’t know. At least there are people able to make a living.

There was a recent study, conducted by Fender, that found 50 percent of people buying their guitars are younger girls. As the first female to ever receive a signature guitar from Fender, that must be amazing to see.

Bonnie Raitt: That’s the best news I’ve heard in weeks! I didn’t even see that poll. That’s fantastic. It’s really an exciting time for women who play instruments. Between Beyonce and Prince having all-women bands, Jack White … Every time I turn around, somebody went out of their way on late-night TV to hire a woman guitar player in the house band. Felicia [Collins] was with Paul Shaffer for years. It’s really exciting to see the explosion and appetite for young women. … Being a guitarist, I was thrilled to be able to open 40 new clubs for the Boys and Girls Guitar Club I started in ’95. We are up and running in over 200 cities. The Dixie Chicks cut one of my songs and I donated the profits from that as well as a guitar to opening programs for kids after school. I was really happy that Fender partnered with me on that. The appetite for country music and Americana and just being a badass on the guitar is really encouraging [laughs]. I can’t wait to see the next crop blow me out of the water. I make it sound like I’m being competitive. But occasionally, I’ll see a young woman who will come up to me and say, “You better watch your back.”

You have been such a champion for environmental justice and social change for years. With the horrific burning of the rainforest, you will be playing REVEL in the Rainforest, a benefit event for Rainforest Action Network in early October. How should artists and public figures such as yourself be leading by example, given this current crisis?

Bonnie Raitt: I come from a tradition, being a Quaker and growing up with the civil rights movement and the “Ban the Bomb” movements all coming throughout my teenage years. The music of Bob Dylan and Pete Seeger, the forming of the anti-war movement of the ’60s and the feminist movement. It wasn’t even a question of whether or not the music was going to be relevant to the social movements of the day. So, all through the ’70s, even though I don’t do overtly political songs, war songs or environmental songs, I thought it was my obligation to try to be the town crier and raise funds and attention for all kinds of causes. That has stayed with me since I started playing and was lucky enough to have people want to come and see me. So I feel obliged to share my good fortune as well as use my microphone responsibly. … There are tremendous opportunities to use the connection provided by the internet, and live possibilities for raising money and education. Like what we did with “No Nukes” [benefit from 1979]. We used a rally and five nights of concerts and put in speeches and little films about nuclear power within the performances. I’m hoping there will be more and more organized musical performances, combined with the internet and live broadcasts in theaters, as a way of fundraising and educating. I hope that will be more of what’s going on. With the explosion of disaster relief, like the Bahamas with devastating flooding and fire impact, we’re just going to have to do more fundraising all the time. For anybody that’s not actively involved in promoting climate solutions, they said years ago, if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. It’s time to wake up. At the very least, educate yourself and vote. I think artists, and our citizens as well, just have to bond together. I salute any movements for people to do concerts to bring more attention.

Listen to “Dig In Deep” by Bonnie Raitt below…


Source: © Copyright Metro But wait, there's more!

Willie Nelson, Bonnie Raitt, and Alison Krauss help pack the Outlaw Fest at the Mann with a 7-hour music extravaganza

on September 14, 2019 No comments
by Dan DeLuca
Willie Nelson and his well-worn acoustic guitar Trigger had a lot of talent company for the Outlaw Music Tour at the Mann Center Friday, Sept. 13, 2019 © Steven M. Falk /Staff Photographer

Everybody loves Willie Nelson, and why wouldn’t they?

The pigtailed 86-year-old makes American music that weaves together country, gypsy jazz, Sinatrian saloon songs, and the blues. He’s a genius sui generis interpreter of other people’s songs, and has written some pretty good ones himself, from “Crazy” to “Night Life” to “Funny How Time Slips Away.”

Nelson didn’t find the time to do any of those in his set when this year’s Outlaw Music Tour, a wondrously good-hearted seven-hour extravaganza pulled in to the Mann Center on Friday.

But he did pack 21 others into his spirited headlining show, which opened up as always with Johnny Bush’s “Whiskey River” and the Texas state flag draped behind him.

It closed with a “Will the Circle Be Unbroken?” and ”I’ll Fly Away” gospel-flavored one-two punch, for which he was joined by a dozen or so musicians, including fellow redhead Bonnie Raitt and Warren Haynes, who had performed with his band, Gov’t Mule.

In between Nelson played his battered acoustic guitar Trigger backed by simpatico longtime touring companions including drummer Paul English, harmonica player Mickey Raphael, and his sister, Bobbie Nelson, on piano.

Nelson made quick work of staples like “Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys” and a three-song Hank Williams medley. But he found his groove paying tribute to Django Reinhardt on the instrumental “Nuages,” and digging deep into Hoagy Carmichael’s “Georgia (On My Mind).”

He gave his fine new album, Ride Me Back Home, attention with Guy Clark’s “My Favorite Picture of You” and Buzz Rabin’s “Maybe I Should’ve Been Listening.” We all should be, to Willie, while we’ve got him.

After canceling shows this summer for health concerns, Nelson seemed in fine shape Friday, reluctant to leave the stage at night’s end, and his performance was more lively and nuanced than last September’s at the BB&T Pavilion in Camden.

“I’ve never smelled so much pot during my first song in my life.” Bonnie Raitt opening for Willie Nelson at the Outlaw Music Festival at the Mann Center in Fairmount Park in Philadelphia – Sept. 13, 2019 © Dan DeLuca

Raitt preceded Nelson, and was fabulous. If the slide-guitar-spiced opener “No Business” from 1991’s Luck of the Draw wasn’t enough to remind the crowd how much they loved her, the quip that followed was: “I’ve never smelled so much pot during my first song in my life.”

She played the hits, pulling all the adult contemporary heartache out of “I Can’t Make You Love Me,” but really got going with the blues, ripping into the Fabulous Thunderbirds’ “I Believe I’m in Love With You” and bringing out Haynes on B.B. King’s “Never Make Your Move Too Soon.”

Warren Haynes and his band, Gov’t Mule, was also part of the seven-hour fest. © Steven M. Falk /Staff Photographer

It was a tough call as to what was the musical highlight of the evening. Raitt brought out Alison Krauss for a duet on John Prine’s “Angel From Montgomery” that was indeed angelic.

And after reminiscing about playing the Philadelphia Folk Festival and Second Fret in the late 1960s, Raitt played a solo version of Skip James‘ “Devil Got My Woman,” a song that she remembered performing for the Mississippi blues great in Philadelphia before he died here in 1969. Spine-tingling!

You’ve got a seriously stacked lineup when the singer who’s won more Grammys than any other woman in history is third on the bill. That would be Krauss, who fronted a seven-man band of sterling singers and musicians while sensibly dressed for the chilly evening in a buttoned-up overcoat.

The formidable bluegrass fiddler cut loose on “Sawing on the Strings” but otherwise turned in a gorgeously measured, finely calibrated performance.

Alison Krauss included two Willie Nelson songs in her stunning performance at the Outlaw Music Festival at the Mann Center – Friday, Sept. 13, 2019 © Steven M. Falk /Staff Photographer

She turned gender tables on Keith Whitley’s “When You Say Nothing at All,” making it a song about a dude most eloquent when he keeps his mouth shut. Shenandoah’s “Ghost in This House” was spooky and an a cappella “Down to the River to Pay” from O Brother, Where Art Thou? even spookier.

And Krauss was careful to include not one but two Nelson songs, both his 1964 single “I Never Cared for You” — included on her 2017 album, Windy City — and the sorrowful “Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground,” which she sang with all the dignity and grace it deserved.

Bonnie Raitt welcomed Warren Haynes (Gov’t Mule) performing B.B. King‘s “Never Make Your Move Too Soon”
© Rachel Faye

Setlist

  • No Business
  • Unintended Consequence of Love
  • Need You Tonight  
  • One Belief Away
  • I Believe I’m in Love With You  
  • Devil Got My Woman  
  • Something to Talk About
  • Have a Heart
  • Never Make Your Move Too Soon  (w/ Warren Haynes)
  • Angel From Montgomery  (w/ Alison Krauss)
  • I Can’t Make You Love Me  
  • You Got the Love  
  • Love Sneakin’ Up on You
by Dan DeLuca
Dan DeLuca @delucadan | ddeluca@inquirer.com

Source: © Copyright The Philadelphia Inquirer

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