All posts tagged australia

Live Review: Mavis Staples, Bonnie Raitt @ Darling Harbour Theatre
An unforgettable performance by two outstanding legends!

on April 12, 2023 No comments
David James Young

Two weeks after Mavis Staples last visited Australia, the world completely shut down. At 80 years old, it was understandably feared that this may have been the very last chance we got to spend an evening with this certified soul legend. Thankfully, the last surviving Staples Singer has made her way back down under at 83. “I’m a soldier, y’all!” she crows at the end of Fight – and boy, is she right.

When most people her age spend their days staring out the window, Staples still reaches in deep and delivers a heartfelt performance. Her voice is shaky and croaky and takes a minute to warm up – but the passion and the conviction do not wane for a second. Whether she’s delving into her own catalogue or whipping out fun covers like her vibrating take on Talking HeadsSlippery People, you can both see and feel how much performing still means to Staples after over half a century up on stage. 45 minutes doesn’t feel like nearly enough time in the presence of such greatness, but it’s worth taking stock of how lucky we are to have time with her still at all. Every last moment counts.

If consistency is key, consider Bonnie Raitt an expert locksmith. The Grammy-winning veteran has been enthralling Australian audiences since 1992, all with little more beyond her powerful voice and her virtuoso blues guitar playing. She’s never needed many whistles and bells to make her shows feel special – just hand her a six-string and have a tight band on call, and she’ll have the crowd enraptured just like that.

Tonight, her first Sydney show in six years proves to be no exception to this. It’s an understated affair, with only a few lighting changes and a spotlight accompanying Raitt and co. during the set. It’s this straightforward nature, however, that plays to Raitt’s strengths – she can allow for songs to speak for themselves, whether it’s the tasteful restraint and close vocal harmony of Nick of Time or the swinging groove of Something to Talk About.

Raitt has lost some close friends since she was last here. One of the more recent ones was Renee Geyer, who passed at the start of 2023. Raitt spoke to the audience of attending a memorial service for the late singer and reflected on her passing with Livin’ for the Ones – its resolute chorus, “Keep livin’ for the ones/The ones who didn’t make it”, ringing powerfully true. Another untimely loss that Raitt touches upon is country legend John Prine, who was one of the first noted victims of the COVID-19 pandemic in mid-2020.

Of course, Raitt has been singing Prine’s beloved Angel of Montgomery for nearly 50 years at this point – but now, on her first tour here since Prine’s death, the song stirs even deeper and more resonant emotions. Through watering eyes at its conclusion, Raitt thanks the audience for loving both Prine and his song as much as she and the band do. How could it ever be otherwise?

For as much as tonight is about taking stock and looking back, Raitt also finds the time to contrast that with a little fun. She’s playful in her storytelling and surprising in her covers – delivering a one-two of 80s classics during the set with INXSNeed You Tonight and Talking Heads’ Burning Down the House. While neither is the kind of song you’d normally associate with Raitt’s style of music, her husky vocals and the band’s smooth, slinking arrangement make the translation a relatively seamless one.

After bringing the house down with a powerhouse performance of her signature song I Can’t Make You Love Me and a beaming rendition of One Belief Away, there’s one thing left to do: Play the blues. She invites Mavis Staples’ guitarist Rick Holstrom out on stage, and everybody jams on B.B. King‘s Never Make You Move Too Soon to send the audience home with a smile on their faces. We have, again, been collectively unlocked by Raitt’s consistency, her heart and her evergreen talent.

Source: © Copyright The Music

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Live Review: Bluesfest Day Four (Sunday, 9 April)

on April 10, 2023 No comments
Jess Martyn

Day four of Bluesfest was another massive day of talent punctuated by the classic Bonnie Raitt

Crowd participation was just as central to Mavis Staples’ performance as her genre-defining voice. Even early numbers like Handwriting on the Wall had the air of an elder giving a masterclass, backed by some of the most enthusiastic supporting vocalists one could hope to find anywhere. They closed their eyes and raised their hands like they were in a church service, matching Staples herself for enthusiasm. As she said to the crowd, “first, you’ve got to drop your seatbelt and then just let yourself get loose. If you get loose, you are guaranteed to have a grand time. If you wanna ride, you’d better board this train now. This train is bound for glory.” 

Amongst many set highlights, the Respect Yourself duet between Staples and her guitarist was a standout, second only to the gospel perfection of Will The Circle Be Unbroken with guest stars, Bonnie Raitt and Jackson Browne

Bonnie Raitt at Byron Bay Bluesfest on the Mojo Stage (first show - Day Four) April 9, 2023
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Bonnie Raitt performing her Grammy-winning single “Made Up Mind” with its writers The Bros Landreth at Bluesfest Byron Bay, Australia - April 9, 2023
Bonnie Raitt performing her Grammy-winning single “Made Up Mind” with its writers The Bros Landreth at Bluesfest Byron Bay, Australia - April 9, 2023

Finally, as the set was due to finish, Staples simply raised her hands and left the stage as the band played her out – class until the very end. 

Mavis Staples had left the stage buzzing with the energy of a true Queen, and Bonnie Raitt was quick to pick it up and run with it. Ready for her solo moment after several supporting performances, Bonnie was not shy with her music or with her political views, looking perfectly at home on the stage as she dedicated her performance of We Used To Rule The World to “all the fools running for office” in America. 

Raitt carried the same fabulous edge throughout the performance, with highlights including the dance number “No Business”, full of attitude until the very last note, and Blame It On Me, a tune full of passion, memorable moments on the organ and sultry vocals. Later in the set, Love In The Wintertime was an ode to the glorious April weather, giving Raitt the opportunity to switch to the keys. “We have played here in the rain and in the smoking hot muggy heat, and this is just perfect,” she said, and by the end of her set, it was all Byron could do to hope for many more repeat performances. 

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Source: © Copyright The Music

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Almost 50 years and 20 albums on with Bonnie Raitt

on April 3, 2017 No comments

By Anna Wilson

Trying to track both the recording and touring history of Bonnie Raitt is like trying to track the history of the British monarchy – it’s extensive, involved and incredibly successful.


The American blues singer has toured extensively for nearly ten months out of each year she’s been active, won ten Grammy Awards and released an arsenal of material. Last year’s Dig In Deep was the singer’s 20th album release, an addition to a discography that includes several original, live and best of albums. On top of her music, Raitt is a well-known activist and spokesperson for several socio-political causes. All this spanning a nearly 50-year career.

After all that, Raitt can be forgiven for losing track and forgetting when she last graced our shores. “Let me see what I’ve got here,” Raitt says, checking her emails from her California home. “Last time we were in Australia was 2013, that was our last cycle and coming out this year is part of our second – math was clearly not my topic.”

Raitt is headed down under for this year’s Bluesfest at Byron Bay, as well as a string of solo shows in selected cities, Melbourne included. Touring gets more and more taxing for Raitt and her band of 30 years, but the beauty of being successful, she says, is that she can pick and choose her appearances. “Thank God for the internet. If you click on it and bring up all the different shows I’ve done, that’s when I realise how many months we’ve ever spent on the road.

“The good thing about having more success is you can get everyone home to see their families, which is really helpful to maintain your relationships. Once you get the buses running with the sound and light and stuff five shows a week is how you keep it going – I like playing multiple nights but I wouldn’t want to play six on, six off.”

Keeping her touring life varied with festivals and solo shows, Raitt agrees she has the best of both worlds, with opportunities to explore different styles of live performance. “You can play more ballads and an acoustic section in a theatre, and you can have that beautiful quiet mood,” Raitt says.

“If you’re going to play a long set and everyone’s been standing in the rain or sweating in the sun for five hours, it’s going to be more rock ‘n’ roll. I enjoy both, they’re just different sides of the same coin.”

Like her live shows, Raitt’s career has been of an eclectic persuasion, effortlessly mixing genres without inserting herself in to any one label – but how has she maintained such variation? “My tastes are all over the map. I don’t do speed metal or progressive rock,” she laughs. “I love Brazilian, Celtic, gypsy, Indian, it all seeps in. I love the blues and rock‘n’roll, I love a great song by a great balladeer but singer/songwriter is where I live.

“I came out of folk music and blues, I have a lot of respect for great music and performing – I’d get really bored sticking to any one of those genres.”

With so many styles having already been addressed, one would think Raitt would soon run out of ideas – however, the singer is adamant that is not the case and still has a whole host of ideas for more albums. “There’s some music from West Africa I’d love to collaborate on, and Indigenous music in South Africa. I think to go out there and do some of that would be amazing.

“The world situation being so much more hairy in terms of safety and visas, makes it difficult for international musicians like us to travel easily. If I want to record that kind of music, I’ll have to go there, and who knows what the world will be like by then.”

Bonnie Raitt will bring Dig In Deep to Hamer Hall on Monday April 10 and perform at Byron Bay Bluesfest, taking place from Thursday April 13 until Monday April 17. Dig In Deep is out now via ADA.

Source: © Copyright Beat

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