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Something to Gush About

on July 4, 2023 No comments
Mary Lee Pappas
Bonnie Raitt at Murat Theatre at Old National Centre, Indianapolis, IN – July 1, 2023 © James “Hutch” Hutchinson
Bonnie with Maia Sharp at Murat Theatre at Old National Centre, Indianapolis, IN – July 1, 2023

Maia Sharp, a musician who’s written songs for Bonnie Raitt, Cher, Edwin McCain, Art Garfunkel, Keb’Mo’ and more, opened the show as people were still finding their seats.

Thankfully, some talkers got emphatically shushed into silence, so all could, undisturbed, take in this amazing singer/songwriter armed with only her guitar.

“Junkyard Dog” and the wry “Nice Girl,” with the key lyric derived from her ex saying, “You’ll make a nice girl miserable someday,” had the crowd smiling and immersed in her love-lost storytelling. “Old Dreams” and other songs from her Reckless Thoughts album, which will be released in August, were also performed.

If you don’t know Sharp, you may’ve heard her song “Nothing But the Radio” in rotation on 92.3 WTTS. They presented the evening’s show as part of their Rock to Read Concert Series, which raises funds for children’s literacy programs through the Indianapolis Public Library. Learn more at

Bonnie Raitt is the GOAT. The blues-rock star doesn’t need a review or any clever compliments. Her praises have been sung for decades with her voice, guitar skills, and songwriting unwaveringly prodigious.

She was met with a standing ovation when she walked onto the stage. This was before she could even grab her guitar – her first of many. With a cool poise and ease in delivery, she started the show with “Made Up Mind” from her latest album from 2022, Just Like That… followed by the funky “Used to Rule the World.”

An expansive backdrop of a clouded sky dusted with sunset pinks set the mood while the Ukrainian flag rested on the drum riser. Raitt, an elegant activist, said, “We’re traveling with the Ukrainian flag,” as a reminder of the country’s plight.

On the last night of the tour before a two-month hiatus, Raitt said, “It’s like the last night of summer camp, so anything could happen.” This show was rescheduled from a May 20 postponement due to a “medical situation that required surgery to address.” her social media had relayed. Whatever the matter, she appeared unsurprisingly bionic and unconquerable. Later in the show, she humored, “I’ll be happy to be home and do my laundry.” But her uniform tour blouses (who makes them?) probably require dry cleaning. For this night, she donned a dark blue satin, three-quarter sleeve button-down shirt with sparkly pin-stripes and raspberry-fushia turned-back cocktail cuffs – a shirt made for guitar playing.

Truly a badass, her voice was mesmerizingly perfect in person. She pulled from her heart to relay every lyric in her timeless songs. Interacting with the audience, she had a quip for any banter—a pro. The sound quality was exceptional, and the depth of synergy among the band was brilliant, pushing the escapist experience of witnessing this legend live. The band is la crème de la crème: Hutch Hutchinson, her bassist of 30 years; Ricky Fataar of The Rutles fame and a Beach Boy for a stint in the early 70s on drums; the soulful Glenn Patscha on keys: and the famed Duke Levine on guitar. Tight and meticulous.

Bonnie Raitt pulls out all the stops for Saenger show

“No Business” from the “Luck of the Draw” 1991 album was up next, giving fans the treat of witnessing her slide guitar mastery. She then praised her team, saying, “I love my band, and I love this crew…thank you for a great tour,” before launching into “Blame It On Me” off the new album. Before Patscha could lay out the soulful, moody intro on the Hammond, Raitt said, “I’ve got to get pissed off to sing this.” Naturally, it was one of her many love and heartache songs making attendees teary-eyed. “Nick of Time” from her 1989 breakthrough album of the same title roused this retiree-aged crowd enough to clap along and cry a little more. Guitar number four came out for the melancholy “Just like that,” then a lively “Something to Talk About.” Accolades to the uninhibited: a woman with a close-up orchestra seat on the right side who got up and danced, and the guy to the far left about seven rows back who grooved in the aisle for the whole show.

It was great to hear hits like “Love Letter,” “Love Sneakin’ Up on You,” and “Have a Heart” that had people singing along. An intangible, graceful performance of John Prine’s “Angel of Montgomery” with Raitt welcoming “My sister, Maia Sharp,” to the stage to accompany her was an entrancing highlight. Raitt exclaimed, “Thank you for this song,” among her many praises of Prine, and added of Sharp, “One of the finest we’ve got.”

The only peculiar aspect of the evening was the audience. With iconic songs ingrained into Americana like “I Can’t Make You Love Me,” how was the crowd not more diverse? Considering her collaborations, and her style, it made no sense. Does her music reach younger audiences? Was my 48-year-old Raitt devotee friend the youngest person in the crowd? OK, staff circling the aisles with their green lights, ensuring no one was sneaking pics or recording, was a bit annoying, but whatever.

Among her three-song encore was a heart-wrenching rendition of “I Can’t Make You Love Me” that, no matter how many times it’s been covered or by whichever greats, it’s Raitt’s emotive embodiment of the lyrics, the story of unrequited love that feels like she’s as the Roberta Flack song goes, “Killing me softly.” Another unforgettable moment in a most remarkable show. Every aspect of this concert would leave anyone awestruck. Seeing Raitt live should be on everyone’s bucket list.

Source: © Copyright NUVO

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