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Review: Bonnie Raitt live at Wiltern Theater in Los Angeles

on November 22, 2005 No comments

by Steven Mirkin

Bonnie Raitt isn’t one to hide the years.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee appears too comfortable in her own skin and is having too good a time for that.
She presents a good many of the songs performed in her 90-minute show as bits of hard-earned wisdom, an attitude underscored by her smoky, aged-in-wood voice.

“I’ve learned how to bend,” she told the sold-out aud, “but more importantly, I learned how not to be broken.”

“Trinkets,” one of the many songs that reference New Orleans, looks back ruefully on childhood, recalling an “ol’ gal named Betty” who is “wrinkled but she’s lovely and flexible,” and asks, “Don’t you wish we were all flexible enough to dance now?”

Raitt shows off her own flexibility with a set list that covers almost all the facets of her three-decade career. She can be bawdy with a growling cover of Sippie Wallace’s “Mighty Tight Woman”; bring on the pop/soul with “Love Sneaking Up on You” (with Ivan Neville sitting in on vocals and piano); and deliver “I Can’t Make You Love Me” with torchy glamour.

She’s helped by having strong new album “Souls Alive” (Capitol) to draw from. “Unnecessarily Mercenary” (written by her fine keyboard player, Jon Cleary) is a jaunty, New Orleans stride; “God Is in the Water” is swampy, Memphis-styled gospel; and “Crooked Crown” (co-written by opening act Maia Sharp) is a Zen shuffle around acceptance and understanding. Regardless of the style, one of the evening’s consistent pleasures was Raitt’s slide guitar work.

At one point, while reaching for a sip of water, Raitt joked,

“At my age, you’ve got to make sure you have the proper hydration.”

Whatever was in that bottle, it worked; Raitt’s show is a tutorial on how a rock musician can age gracefully.

Wiltern Theater Los Angeles, CA 11-21-2005

Bonnie Raitt

Wiltern Theater; 2,200 seats; $65 top

Production

Presented by Avalon Attractions. Reviewed Nov. 21, 2005.

Cast

Band: Bonnie Raitt, Jon Cleary, James “Hutch” Hutchinson, Ricky Fataar, George Marinelli. Guests: Ivan Neville; Maia Sharp.

Source: © Copyright Variety

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