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Review: Bonnie Raitt shines in a night of blues, rock and folk at The Grand

on November 29, 2013 No comments



The legendary Bonnie Raitt filled the intimate confines of Wilmington’s Grand Opera House with her signature mix of rock, blues and folk Tuesday night. For nearly 90 minutes, she delivered one knockout song after another, warming everyone up from the late-autumn chill and rain with her own classics, as well as a healthy dose from 2012’s covers album Slipstream.

© Chris Sikich

© Chris Sikich

Sporting red curls that she joked were in the vein of Jessica Rabbit’s, Raitt showed off slide-guitar skills at peak performance and vocals that are as rich as ever. She wasted no time in getting the crowd revved up, with the second song of the night being one of her best known, “Something to Talk About.” She followed that with the Bob Dylan cover “Million Miles,” setting up a night of her familiar work mixed with engaging new interpretations.

Her band was in glorious form, with guitarist George Marinelli, bassist James Hutchinson, drummer Ricky Fataar and keyboardist Mike Finnigan creating a rich expanse of sound that enveloped the Grand. And the Grand itself, surely one of the region’s greatest venues, was a star performer as well, with its refined acoustics and intimacy stirring Raitt to comment on its greatness multiple times.

Raitt invited no fewer than three guest performers to make the night even more special.

Opener Paul Brady, who had just arrived in the States the night before from Ireland to join Raitt for this leg of the tour, sat in with the headliner on multiple occasions. The standout invitation was for “Marriage Made in Hollywood,” a song Brady co-wrote with Michael O’Keefe, Raitt’s ex-husband.

© Chris Sikich

© Chris Sikich

And then there was the John Prine classic “Angel from Montgomery,” on which Raitt encouraged Sarah Siskind to sing lead while Wilmington resident David Bromberg played guitar. Raitt was as smitten with her guests as they were with her, and their joy in playing such great works shone through.

Raitt couldn’t leave before showcasing one of her finest moments as a musician with “I Can’t Make You Love Me,” the first song of the encore. Her voice —as compelling and moving as it was all night — mixing with Finnigan’s fine keyboard work was powerful stuff. Closing with a rousing and rocking version of Elvis Presley’s “A Big Hunk O’ Love,” Raitt and her band took a final bow to a room filled with gratitude for a night and career of stunning music.

© Chris Sikich

© Chris Sikich


Source: © Copyright WXPN

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Raitt’s concert something to talk about

on February 16, 2006 No comments

Catching Bonnie Raitt at the Arlington Theatre, as a full house did for a generous Valentine’s Day concert of musical kindness, is bound to trigger nostalgia for some. Longtime locals will remember hearing her in this special venue, going back to the “prehistoric age” of the late 1970s, when she was a cult and critical favorite.

That was long before she became a “comeback” sensation and a representative voice for aging baby boomers with her late-blooming hit 1989 album “Nick of Time.”

By this point, she’s going strong and connecting all the varied dots of her musical identity at age 56.

Raitt manages to be a deft multitasker of an artist, and her latest album, “Souls Alike,” is one of her most exciting and artistically varied records in years.

Bonnie Raitt at the benefit concert for the UCSB Arts & Lectures educational outreach program – February 14, 2006.

Taking the stage with her fiery and subtle band, Raitt put on a captivating show, during which she juggled her multiple hats: organic R&B funk chef, pop chanteuse with heart on sleeve, blues woman with a dirty mind and inveterate activist.

In this benefit concert for the UCSB Arts & Lectures educational outreach program, Raitt touted the fact that their tour bus was running on biodiesel — and quite nicely, thank you.

In short, Raitt gave the crowd what it wanted, and needed.

She tugged on midlife heartstrings, invoking the sweet sadness of time’s passage with “Nick of Time.”

But she also got gritty when singing seminal blues woman Sippi Wallace’s “Women be Wise” (key line, “don’t advertise your man”) and “I Believe I’m in Love with You,” by Kim Wilson, the Goleta-bred blues hero (aka “Goleta Slim”).

As a slide guitar stylist, Raitt has an uncanny way of coaxing ethereal, bluesy beauty with a few well-placed, vibrato-laden long notes.

Tuesday’s show opened with keyboardist Jon Cleary’s New Orleans-ish tune “Unnecessarily Mercenary,” from the new album, and we were reminded that part of Raitt’s roots go back to the influence of her friend, the late Lowell George from Little Feat.

Cleary’s new song is reminiscent of George’s “Mercenary Territory” and Raitt’s goosey-graceful slide guitar notes and vocal phrasing carried forward the Little Feat founder’s imprint.

Raitt can get down and nasty and swampy, but she also delivers a sad ballad with the best of them, as she did with Michael McDonald’s “Matters of the Heart” and an especially slow, airy and poignant encore version of her hit “I Can’t Make You Love Me.”

Singer-songwriter Paul Brady, the Irishman whose solo opening act was an ideal warm-up for Raitt, joined her onstage to sing harmony and musically bond on “Luck of the Draw” and on the shamelessly romantic anthem “Not the Only One,” both written by Brady. (Because Raitt doesn’t write much, her career has been a boon to many an outside songwriter).

After “Not the Only One,” Raitt, ever attentive to contrast and pacing in her work, shrugged, “Sorry if that got a little bit sappy . . . I can’t help it.” Next up, the band jumped into the lanky shuffle-rocking energy of John Hiatt’s “Thing Called Love.”

In a way, the star of this show, at least in terms of offering a fresh addition to the Raitt songbook, was a voice strictly behind the scenes.

Songwriter Maia Sharp’s intriguingly left-of-center tunes are highlights of the new album, and perked up ears in concert, as well.

Sharp’s wickedly appealing “Crooked Crown” is a cool and inventive song, along the lines of a progressive blues-rock style, while “The Bed I Made,” the new album’s closer, was played like a brooding jazz ballad.

As Raitt delivered the song, with her blend of wisdom and vulnerability, you could hear a pin and/or a tear drop in the house.

Raitt’s latest visit to the Arlington confirmed that there still aren’t many singers alive with the alternately tough and the tender stuff she brings to her art.

Paul Brady, Bonnie and David Crosby – Santa Barbara – Feb. 14, 2006.

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