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Review: Bonnie Raitt gets friendly, frisky and emotional in her return to Minnesota
In her first Gopher State headline gig since 2016, the Hall of Famer gave shout-outs to many local musicians.

on July 30, 2022 No comments
By Jon Bream
Bonnie Raitt – Just Like That… Tour 2022 with Special Guest Mavis Staples

WAITE PARK, Minn. — Before Bonnie Raitt even sang a note at the Ledge Amphitheater on Friday night, she exposed her deep Minnesota roots.

“Minnesota!” she declared when she hit the stage. “Nice to be back. What a beautiful venue.”

After her first tune, she gave shout-outs to Minnesota music institutions Lamont Cranston, Willie Murphy, Tony Glover and Dave Ray. The singer-guitarist, who recorded her debut album on Lake Minnetonka in 1971, reminisced about her hard-partying days in the Twin Cities in the ’70s and ’80s.

She explained that if she hadn’t gotten sober that “a half-hour after I finished [performing tonight], I’d be in that water,” she said, referring to a mini-lake in the quarries of the Ledge. “Buck naked. And all my family from Minneapolis would be with me.”

In her first headline concert in Minnesota since the 2016 State Fair, Raitt was in great spirits Friday, carrying on as if she were in her living room, not a picturesque outdoor venue with 4,200 adoring fans. She kept changing the set list, flirting with an agile dancing man in the front row and apologizing to the sign language interpreters whenever she dropped a word not suitable for this newspaper.

Her friendliness was engaging, but the casualness also negated the momentum of the show. There were many highlights (as two full standing ovations and four partial ones attested) but no flow toward a climactic pre-encore finale and no familiar, high-energy sendoff (she opted for the obscure “One Belief Away” with its deliciously liquid Afrobeat rhythm).

However, there was a consistent emotionalism throughout that made the 100-minute performance rewarding. Lacking the road-weary rasp of the past, her voice was rich, soulful and strikingly heartfelt, especially on the impossibly sad ballads “I Can’t Make You Love Me” (featuring newcomer Glenn Patscha’s elegantly despondent piano) and John Prine’s “Angel from Montgomery,” about a woman trapped in a marriage.

Equally emotional was the Rock & Roll Hall of Famer’s slide guitar work, with a remarkable range of moods including mournful (“Blame It on Me”), mystical (“Back Around”), sensual (“Need You Tonight”), joyful (“Something to Talk About”), stinging (“Livin’ for the Ones”), sly (“Have a Heart”) and funky (“You Got the Love”).

Raitt, 72, offered five selections from her excellent 2022 album, “Just Like That,” including the title track, a true-story ballad about a woman who lost her 25-year-old son but got to hear his heart transplanted in another man. It was a riveting tale of grace that enthralled the sellout crowd.

Other standout new numbers included the slow-burn blues “Blame It on Me,” the night’s first cry of sadness, and the hopeful Stones-like rocker “Livin’ for the Ones,” dedicated to Raitt’s late brother Steve, a longtime Twin Cities sound engineer/producer.

Before the night was over, Raitt mentioned the State Fair, First Avenue and the Joint bar as well as Spider John Koerner, Willie & the Bees, the T.C. Jammers, Melanie Rosales, Ricky Peterson, Margaret Cox, Bobby Vandell (who was in the audience) — pretty much any Minnesota musician on the scene before Prince.

“I love you, too, Minnesota,” she shouted after the night’s final standing ovation. “I feel it, too.”

Opening the concert was Mavis Staples, 83, a force of happiness, inspiration and positivity. The Rock Hall of Famer’s spirit, energy and growling gospel messages were infectious. It’s too bad that she didn’t duet with Raitt as they did when they toured together 10 years ago.

Jon Bream has been a music critic at the Star Tribune since 1975, making him the longest tenured pop critic at a U.S. daily newspaper. He has attended more than 8,000 concerts and written four books (on Prince, Led Zeppelin, Neil Diamond and Bob Dylan). Thus far, he has ignored readers’ suggestions that he take a music-appreciation class.

Source: © Copyright StarTribune


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REVIEW: Bonnie Raitt, Mavis Staples offer a night to remember

on July 30, 2022 No comments
by Bruce Miller

Bonnie Raitt made waiting through the pandemic worthwhile.

Playing at the Orpheum Theatre Saturday night, she reminded us why live music is so important and why you can’t take magic moments for granted – or embrace them through a cellphone video.

Offering up plenty from her new album, “Just Like That,” including a nice chunk from “Nick of Time,” and singing a couple of memory songs, she brought plenty into focus and led us to believe she could be back in the Grammy hunt.

The title cut, inspired by a woman who was about to meet the recipient of her late son’s heart, captured so much of the pain, hurt – and hope – we’ve been feeling, it emerged as something more than others have produced during the past three years. Other songs – “Made Up Mind” and “Living for the Ones” – combine to paint a picture that we couldn’t.

Bonnie Raitt’s 21st studio album, “Just Like That,” addresses issues close to her heart.© Marina Chavez

Paired with “Angel From Montgomery,” a song Raitt has been performing with the late John Prine, and, well, you got a very succinct look at the way emotions can manifest.

Luckily, Raitt had those upbeat hits like “Something to Talk About” to keep the night from becoming a “what was.” She was good at bantering, too, and putting everything in context. A Ukrainian flag represented her support for the people of that war-torn country; a screen with what looked like a vast sky at various times of day, set the scene for everything.

She talked about old friends that were no longer around, dished about a new venue that looked like it was made out of “Flintstones rocks” and admitted “Blame It on Me” was one of her favorites from the new album.

Her voice was still just as touching as always; her guitar ability was sharper than ever.

Her choice of openers, too, was pretty darn good. Veteran Mavis Staples, she said, was an inspiration.

At 83, Staples was more than that. A force (that’s the easiest way to describe her), she sang like she was bringing the whole Staples Family on stage. On “This Is My Country,” she cut through all the talking-heads nonsense and put the nation’s divide into perspective. On “I’m Just Another Soldier,” she dug deep and pulled out that rasp that made breastbones rattle.

When a fly started buzzing around her, Staples tried to swat it away but couldn’t. After the song was over, she said, “That shows I still got it,” and burst into laughter. “That was the biggest fly I’ve ever seen.” Sioux City would be known as the place where “giant flies are swarming around the artist.”

After “My Country,” Staples said, “I just might run for president.” If Saturday’s crowd was an indication, she’d win in a landslide. She did plenty of her family’s songs (Staples music has been around for 74 years) and closed with “I’ll Take You There,” a classic that was about as perfect as an opening act could get.

Raitt picked up the baton and continued the charge, winning plenty of admirers for that new album and a place for herself in the business as someone who remembers the past but builds for the future.

Another Grammy for Raitt’s shelf? Bank on it. Saturday’s concert was a down payment.

Bruce Miller is editor of the Sioux City Journal. He has covered entertainment for more than 40 years and teaches newswriting at Briar Cliff University.

Source: © Copyright Sioux City Journal


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Bonnie Raitt and Mavis Staples bring joy to Madison in the nick of time

on July 27, 2022 No comments
By Rob Thomas

Treasure the legends.

At first I wasn’t planning to go see Bonnie Raitt and Mavis Staples at Overture Hall on Tuesday night. I’ve seen both of them before, didn’t really know their new albums, it was a Tuesday night. The usual excuses.

But then those videos of Joni Mitchell singing at the Newport Folk Festival started circulating Monday morning. Mitchell suffered a brain aneurysm in 2015, and I assumed I’d never hear her sing again, let alone sing so beautifully.

It was a reminder to treasure the legends while they’re still with us. There’s no particular reason to think Raitt, 72, or Staples, 83, won’t still be around for a while to come (“This won’t be the last you hear from me,” Staples expressly said at the end of her opening set. “I’ll be back.”) But, especially after going without live music for a long stretch recently, you don’t want to be the one who missed your last chance at a transcendent musical moment because it was a Tuesday night, right?

Mavis Staples performs at Overture Center in Madison while on tour with Bonnie Raitt – July 26, 2022 © Ruthie Hauge

The Overture show provided many such moments, with both artists still working at the height of their powers as performers. Staples, a gospel and blues icon, took the stage with what can only be described as swagger, shimmying and belting out both classics (“I’ll Take You There”) and strong recent material. “Loosen your seatbelts,” she exhorted the audience. “You need to get loose like a bowl of Jell-O.”

Backed by a tight band in steel gray suits, Staples captivated the crowd whether she was doing a gospel rave-up like “Hand Writing on the Wall” or an act of consolation and empathy like the stirring “You’re Not Alone.” She marshaled her energy wisely, taking breaks on a stool and sipping tea during guitar solos, and kidded herself when she momentarily forgot which song to do next. “That’s why I have these youngsters on stage with me, to tell me what I’m good for.”

Bonnie Raitt performs at Overture Center in Madison while on tour with Mavis Staples - July 26, 2022
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Mavis Staples performs at Overture Center in Madison while on tour with Bonnie Raitt - July 26, 2022
Bonnie Raitt performs at Overture Center in Madison while on tour with Mavis Staples - July 26, 2022

Staples’ sees performing music as an act of kindness and fellowship, and her joyful spirit was irresistible. That generosity of spirit carried over when Raitt took the stage later, brimming with happiness at being able to play anywhere, but especially in Madison.

She told the crowd that she enjoyed getting away from the “bigger cities with the big reviewers” (ouch, Bonnie) and playing a place like Madison, where it felt like she was among friends. That was literally true, as she shouted out old compatriots like Madison jazz great Ben Sidran and Milwaukee roots icon Paul Cebar in the audience.

Bonnie Raitt performs at Overture Center in Madison while on tour with Mavis Staples – July 26, 2022 © Ruthie Hauge

The magic of a Raitt concert is how she chats and jokes with an audience between songs, like we all have our feet up at the lake house together, then dive so deep into the emotion of a song like “Nick of Time” or “I Can’t Make You Love Me” that you wonder how she’s ever emerge.

To the pantheon of great Raitt songs she added a few new ones from her 2022 album “Just Like That” (no relation to the “Sex and the City” reboot). They included the aching title track and “Livin’ For the Ones,” a timely midtempo rocker about dealing with survivor’s guilt.

But the showstopper, as always, was Raitt’s cover of John Prine’s “Angel from Montgomery.” It’s a song she’s performed for nearly a half a century, but only now has to do in Prine’s absence (the singer-songwriter died from COVID in 2021). That loss added an extra weight to Raitt’s evocation of a lonely old woman. As the crowd burst from their seats at the end of the song, Raitt stood there, head bowed, eyes closed, as if willing Prine to feel their love through her. It was, yes, a transcendent moment.

The only disappointment of the night was that Staples and Raitt, who have been friends since they worked on a Pops Staples solo album decades ago, never took the stage together. But, after seeing two legends in fine form separately, the only proper emotion was gratitude.

Source: © Copyright The Cap Times


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