October 13, 1974
Allen Theatre, Cleveland opening for Jackson Browne
Sunday night’s Jackson Brown and Bonnie Raitt concert was good. Browne once again proved himself one of America’s best songwriters, and Bonnie Raitt showed herself to be a stronger performer than ever.
Bonnie Raitt played first. Her voice was clear and powerful, and her band was really hot. The solos, especially those by pianist Jay Winding, were breathtaking.
Bonnie put a lot of emotion into her performance, packing every work with all of the force that was written into them. She was quiet and bluesy when the lyrics demanded, and she could belt out the rockers too.
And her band followed her every lead. They were funky, and rocking. And they played her blues songs with tremendous feeling and power. It seemed like nothing could cool them down. Winding and guitarist Will McFarlane played solo after solo of inspired music.
Bonnie and her band played both new material and standard crowd pleasers. The best performances of the evening were “You Got to Know How”, with a terrific piano solo by Winding, the ballad “Nothing Seems To Matter,” and a really hot version of “Give It Up.”
Bonnie Raitt proved herself to be a singer/performer of the first order. Between her lively stage chatter and her strong performance, she easily won over the whole audience.
Jackson Browne’s stage performance was somewhat less inspired.
Browne has ably proved himself a unique songwriter, but his live performance didn’t measure up to the quality of his musical talents.
Browne’s band knew the music well, playing very tight, with good solos by David Lindley on an assortment of stringed instruments, but the music lacked the immediacy and the lively quality which was evident in Bonnie Raitt’s performance.
And this detracted immensely from Browne’s music. A few years ago, I heard Jackson Browne in a small club in Boston, accompanied only by Lindley. That concert had a spark to it that was missing Sunday night. The pair didn’t project the feeling that they had played the songs too often, something that was evident Sunday. No one in the band Sunday night, not even Browne himself, seemed to strain himself. There was no expression of emotion, and even less expression of enjoyment in playing before an obviously appreciative audience.
This should not be taken to mean that they were bad, however. The concert was good. Browne sang well, the band was tight, Lindley played strongly, and the music itself was good. But that certain spark, evident in Bonnie Raitt’s performance, was nonetheless missing, and it would have made all the difference in the world.