by Steve Jones
Oct. 11, 2012
Looking sharp in black jeans and blouse with her trademark red hair, Bonnie Raitt and her band hit the Ovens Auditorium stage on Thursday night and performed like a few old friends jamming in a garage. Dipping into a well of 40 years of experience, Raitt mined musical gold for the duration of her two-hour set. Playing songs from her latest album, Slipstream, and mixing in hits and rarities from her catalog, Raitt and company provided a memorable evening of blues and rock 'n' roll.
The night opened with "Used to Rule the World," followed by a better-than-the-original cover of Gerry Rafferty's "Right Down the Line." The mood shifted gears as Raitt delved into the blues with "Get Out of the Way and Let a Boy do a Man-Sized Job" — the first time the song was played on the current tour, she let the crowd know, since she was "in the mood for the blues."
Later, Raitt seemed to appreciate the bawdy nature of "Make it Move," as her slide-guitar work was as tasteful as licking icing from a spoon. A blues jam spotlighted "Thing Called Love" from 1991's multi-platinum album, Nick of Time. The band displayed a sign declaring, "We (heart) Gwen" on stage after dedicating "Something to Talk About" to local fan, Gwen, who has attended 25 of Raitt's shows on this tour.
Offering a challenge to Bob Dylan's original, Raitt played an acoustic guitar for a spooky version of "Million Miles Away." The mood stayed dark with "You Can't Fail Me Now" — another song from Slipstream. A blazing version of the Talking Heads' "Burning Down the House" got the crowd up and dancing. Raitt was later joined by opening act Sarah Siskind for "Angel of Montgomery," leading to a standing ovation.
The encore began with the most emotional moment of the evening, a mournful version of "You Can't Make Me Love You." Raitt's soaring voice shined as the crowd hung on every word. To lighten the mood, Raitt dipped back into her hits with "Have a Heart," the Sippy Wallace blues classic "Women Be Wise," and a set-closing cover of Elvis' "Hunk of Burning Love."
Raitt's confidence is easy to grasp as she shares the spotlight time and again with a band that's just right at the right moments. The tour continues Friday with a sold-out performance at the Durham Performing Arts Center.