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Raitt has ‘Something to Talk About’
Raitt makes vibrant debut in South Bend

on February 21, 2009 No comments
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By ANDREW S. HUGHES / Tribune Staff Writer

February 28, 2009

SOUTH BEND — Bonnie Raitt played South Bend for the first time Friday night.

May it not be the last time.

“We haven’t played in a while,” Raitt said about halfway through the concert. “This is a lot of fun. There’s not a lot of high-risk behavior I can do anymore. …Winging it in front of a live audience where we’ve never played before is pretty high-risk.”

Raitt’s gambles paid off.

Throughout her 105-minute concert at the Morris Performing Arts Center, Raitt proved she’s an engaging, vibrant and vital performer whose voice and slide guitar playing remain confident and intense, while her between-song commentary and her stage mannerisms have a mature but suggestive sexuality to them.

For this first show of the tour, Raitt’s four-piece backing band — guitarist George Marinelli, bass player James “Hutch” Hutchinson, keyboardist Ricky Peterson and drummer Ricky Fataar — provided her with tight but versatile accompaniment, while Raitt took a somewhat freewheeling approach to the set list by substituting two songs for ones she had planned to do and opting to do one of the optional encores on her set list.

Although a little raspy at times, Raitt’s voice was expansive, confident and evocative.

Her voice glided through the melody of “Nick of Time” with warmth and shape, while “I Can’t Make You Love Me” and John Prine’s “Angel From Montgomery” both received passionate, nuanced deliveries brimming with emotion. Raitt inhabited the character whose lines she sung in “I Can’t Make You Love Me” and delivered them with a heartbreaking degree of sorrow and rawness, while her delivery of “Angel From Montgomery” was wistful and satisfied while bringing to life the lyrics’ images.

Raitt’s slide guitar playing also provided several highlights of the night. Her solo on “Thing Called Love” was sly and slinky, while her slide on a resonator guitar on “Premature” was appropriately harsh for the song. Her slide solo on “Never Make Your Move too Soon” was tough but melodic, while her slide fills on “Real Man” were flirtatious, and her slide solo on “Something to Talk About” was gritty.

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Without the slide, Raitt played a well-constructed, hard-edged melodic blues solo on “Love Me Like a Man,” and she had an exceptional and lively main theme on guitar during “Papa Come Quick.”

Between songs, Raitt entertained the audience almost as much with her commentary as when she was singing.

“This sounds dull,” she said to her soundman while fiddling with one acoustic guitar. “Can you make it sound fabulous? Old wood likes to sound fabulous.”

Raitt played “Love Me Like a Man” while seated on a stool.

“I’m sittin’ down because the guitar feels real good when you hunker down on it,” she said. “You should try it.”

After making one of her numerous changes of guitars, Raitt said, “I don’t change these for the colors. They’re all in different tunings.”

While playing “Nick of Time,” Raitt looked into the audience and said of two people she spotted, “They’re kissing out there. I love that. I hope you know her. You do now.”

Raitt dedicated John Hiatt’s “Thing Called Love” — a big hit played second in the concert, no less — to Paul Cebar, whose Paul Cebar Tomorrow Sound band opened the show with a headlining-worthy set of music rooted in the blues but that drew on such traditions as African, Caribbean, New Orleans and jazz music sometimes all in the same song.

“Do you have any idea how much fun this is to do for a living?” she said two-thirds of the way through the concert. “Thank you so much for this gig.”

Raitt didn’t need to tell the audience how much she and her band were enjoying the concert. That was clear from all her other comments between songs and how they dove into the first song, “Talk to Me,” and the passion they put into each song that followed on up to their gritty take on the closing song, “Real Man.”

Source: © Copyright South Bend Tribune
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