Wednesday’s “No Nukes” concert at the Warner Theatre was the perfect thing to irk Gingrich Republicans: a bunch of unapologetic liberals having a good time being, well, liberals.
The evening went off like a thoroughly politicized version of a musical-variety show, with sets by the artists — John Trudell, Indigo Girls and Bonnie Raitt, with a surprise appearance by Jackson Browne — interspersed with activists and politicians including Sen. Richard Bryan (D-Nev.), speaking in favor of the evening’s cause, barring nuclear waste dumps on Native American lands in the West.
Trudell, an activist turned musician, was by far the most strident, mixing poetry set to the tune of Indian chants by Milton “Quilt” Sahme with somewhat woolly-minded political diatribes (“the whole concept of freedom is just heroin for your consciousness”).
After Browne’s three-song appearance, featuring slide guitar and vocal help from Bonnie Raitt on “World in Motion,” Indigo Girls turned in a hard-edged set, marked by singer Amy Ray’s hyperkinetic stage presence. The Native American vocal trio Ulali provided a passionate accompaniment to “Shed Your Skin”; the set-closing “Closer to Fine” provided a contrasting dose of good-natured musical sloppiness.
Raitt offered easily the best singing of the night; her voice is a rare combination of husky aggression (as in her cover of John Hiatt’s “Thing Called Love”) and choir-girl clarity (Richard Thompson’s “Dimming of the Day”). Much of Raitt’s set consisted of quieter, almost hushed ballads like Beth Nielsen-Chapman’s “Color of Roses,” but plenty of kick remained in numbers like her twitchy, ska-flavored take on “Come to Me” and the show-closing cover of Buffy Sainte-Marie’s “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee.”