Having won three GRAMMYs at the 65th Annual Awards in February, Bonnie Raitt shows her Irish fans she’s still on top.
“It’s fun being 73, isn’t it?” As quick-witted and charismatic as ever, blues legend Bonnie Raitt neither looks nor acts her age tonight at her sold-out Vicar Street show.
The California native is genuinely happy to be back in front of an Irish audience having last played the RDS with Paul Simon and James Taylor in July 2018. There are plenty of “We love you Bonnie” audience shout-outs throughout the night and Raitt does her fair share of shout-outs to one particular audience member, her long-time friend, Paul Brady. She dedicates her 1991 hit ‘Something to Talk About’ to Paul and his wife: “People who have been married as long as Paul and Mary – this is going out to all your frisky folks out there!”
While some of her best-loved songs are covers, Bonnie Raitt isn’t just a talented blues guitarist and singer. Earlier this year she beat pop mega-stars Adele, Harry Styles, Lizzo, Taylor Swift and Beyonce at the Grammys, winning Song Of The Year for her song poignant track, Just Like That.
The ten-time Grammy winner proves her talent is far from waning. She treats us to a heartfelt rendition of the Grammy-winning song, which was initially inspired by a woman who donated her deceased child’s organs and goes on to meet the man who received his heart. It’s a powerful song that quickly strikes a chord with her Vicar Street audience. Raitt has also stated that the song was inspired by the death of her longtime friend John Prine, who passed away in 2020 after complications from COVID-19.
Born in 1949 to a Quaker family in Burbank, California, Rait moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts for college for its hotbed of political, folk and blues music. Known for her lifelong commitment to social activism, Raitt has long been involved with the environmental movement, even dedicating her 1972 album Give It Up to the people of North Vietnam.
Raitt is a fierce performer, full of conviction. She wryly pokes fun at her homeland saying things like, “We’ll try stop our madness at our side of the pond..” And she sarcastically dedicates Randall Bramblett’s song ‘Used to Rule the World’ to the United States: “Remember when we used to rule the world,” she asks. “Never…”
I’ve always enjoyed Bonnie’s Raitt as an artist but tonight, I want to be her buddy. She is so effortlessly cool and full of fun. She moves from the guitar over to the keys for her incredibly moving song, ‘Nick Of Time’. Written about her observations about aging, the song has some poignant lyrics like, “I see my folks are getting on, And I watch their bodies change, I know they see the same in me, And it makes us both feel strange”.
Her Dublin audience is overjoyed by the performance. It’s a talent in itself to take on another artist’s song and make it your own. Bonnie Raitt is a master of this, performing two of her most well-known songs – John Prine’s ‘Angel from Montgomery’ and ‘I Can’t Make You Love Me’ written by Mike Reid and Allen Shamblin.
Tonight she is backed by her supremely talented band featuring Hutch Hutchinson on bass, Ricky Fataar on drums as well as the wonderful Glenn Patscha on keys and Duke Levine on guitar. Raitt and her band perform wonderful covers of ‘Burning Down the House’ by Talking Heads followed by a seductive cover of INXS’s ‘Need You Tonight’ – they are simply on fire.
Raitt mentions her visit to the National Gallery in Dublin the day before and quips: “The only thing missing was Paul Brady’s portrait!” As she introduces her performance of Paul Brady’s 1983 song ‘Not The Only One‘, Bonnie Raitt expresses her love for Paul (who happens to be sitting beside me) admitting that, “it’s good to be nervous”.
Raitt then treats us to a sublime rendition of B.B. King’s ‘Never Make Your Move Too Soon.’ Tuning up her signature slide guitar she playfully says, “Oh I love stratocasters!” I’m sure they love her back, as do we.
Long live the red-headed queen of blues, Ms. Bonnie Raitt.