Bonnie Raitt: Live Last Night

raitt

Live Last Night

By Mike Joyce

Bonnie Raitt is well known for hand-picking and generously showcasing her tourmates. But she couldn't have been more accommodating at Wolf Trap on Sunday night, when she shared the stage with bluesman Taj Mahal, her friend of 40 plus years and her "favorite artist ever."

After an opening set in which Mahal's Phantom Blues Band exuberantly kicked off "The BonTaj Roulet" revue, complete with brass, reeds and evocative set design, Raitt significantly overhauled her show. She engaged in cozy duets and launched a long series of encores that further capitalized on the horn-powered double bill, culminating in a festive mix of newly arranged hits and blues, boogie, soul, reggae and calypso treats.

(Read the rest of the review after the jump.)

Of course, being in good company is one thing, being in good voice another. Raitt was in terrific voice, and she knew it. She belted out "Something To Talk About" and other uptempo tunes in husky, lusty tones, and charged two signature ballads - "Angel From Montgomery" and "I Can't Make You Love Me" - with as much as power as poignancy. Even so, her singing didn't overshadow her expert (and extensive) bottleneck guitar work, with its customary bite and resonance.

Fronting a tight band that prominently featured a new recruit - veteran keyboardist and singer Ricky Peterson - Raitt joked at one point that her voice keeps getting lower, which is undoubtedly the case. But it's as soulful as ever, perhaps even more so, and the chance to perform alongside Mahal, who had no trouble reinvigorating his hits (or mimicking Howlin' Wolf's deep roadhouse moan), was all the inspiration she needed.

By David Malitz |  August 17, 2009; 3:51 PM ET Live Last Night
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Bonnie Raitt's performance was nothing short of perfectly polished by years of working hard on her craft. The first time I saw her was in 1972 in Manchester,N.H. in a very small converted movie theater. The audience was young and rowdy but yet enthusiastically appreciative. I was already a solid fan at that point and have seen her numerous times since.I couldn't help musing over these two performances noting how the audience had aged and though noticeably less raucous, they were perhaps even more appreciative. The music spoke for itself in its perfection through both Bonnie and Taj and company who might as well have been in your living room like any beloved friends.

Posted by: TWOPONYRANCH | August 18, 2009 11:53 PM

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