Sometimes – people require a good slap in the face. A shock to make them understand what is purposeful and what is not.
Bonnie Raitt, her music and her band are purposeful. And then some …
Raitt was in town last night in support of her new disc; ‘Dig in Deep‘. The tour ( named for the record) kicked off it’s Canadian leg in Montreal. Ontario – born, musically- raised Royal Wood was the opening act and will continue that role until the Canadian portion winds down on June 19th in Vancouver. Judging by last night’s performance , Westerners in B.C. should be in for one heck of a hoedown. After all – Raitt, her band and Wood are just ‘warming up’.
Modern music derives primarily from Blues, Jazz and Country. Three chicken-before-the-egg scenarios which built the foundations of everything good ( and bad ) escaping through speakers everywhere. Listening to Raitt and her mates at L’Olympia before a sold out audience gave argument that Raitt could very well be ; the definitive Mother Hen.
Combining two of three genres listed above along with an offspring named Rock n’ Roll – the sixty-seven year old Raitt ‘slid’ her way back and forth through time and arrived truthfully ‘on top’ of the present.
James ‘ Hutch’ Hutchinson (bass), Ricky Fataar (drums), George Marinelli ( guitar) and Mike Finnigan (keyboards ) were Raitt’s usual gang of suspects. The foursome without Raitt? Worth the price of admission. Worth their weight in gold. Worth the wait …
‘ Happy to be here ‘ is a term ubiquitously overused. Polite and with purpose. When Raitt uses it as a welcome back slogan, her band and herself are truly ‘in tune’ and content to be ‘back on the road’.
The evening commenced with an interesting version of INXS’ ‘ Need You Tonight ‘. Shocking some and elevating others to a zone within Raitt’s zone. Marinelli and Raitt from the get – go, dueling and glancing with riffs both cutting and feathery soft. Exchanging slide roles yet never lending their personal gifts to one another. Similar styles yet uniquely individual.
Many artists visiting from the States these days are vocal and apologetic towards the craziness which politicians in their country seem to be inflicting us with on a daily basis. Raitt? No different ..
‘The Coming Around is Going Through’ from the new disc ripe with a message and ripe with power. Added to ‘ I Knew and Undone’ , also new, Montreal quickly aware of Raitt’s neverending songwriting skills.
John Prine’s ‘Angel of Montgomery ‘ was heavenly. Raitt’s vocals strong, soft and heartfelt. Notes and tones touching and pushing hearts into dimensions reserved for few. A song covered by many yet somehow it belongs to Raitt. A showstopper leaving everyone wanting more.
The Blues would not currently exist without people like Raitt and her band carrying on the tradition with such integrity. Elements of the Blues were displayed all night with soul yet it was a version of B.B. King’s ‘Dont Answer the Door’ which gave the audience ‘ something to talk about’.
Mike Finnigan, keyboardist for the ages – put on a lesson.
Through soulful powerful vocals and an expertise created through fifty plus years of experience ( he played with Hendrix) on Hammond B3, piano and keyboard, Finnigan almost stole the show. Alone with occasional compimenting riffs from Raitt, Finnigan tingled spines musically and vocally. Finnigan the real deal and a professor in music.
Raitt’s ‘ pirates’ also paid tribute to Chuck Berry in a roundabout kinda way …
‘I Believe I’m in Love with You ‘, a tune penned by Kim Wilson of The Fabulous Thunderbirds – an obvious fit for Raitt. Hard rocking with a wisp of Country; the tune all parts Berry. The song – all parts Bonnie Raitt.
‘I Can’t Make You Love Me’, the icing on the evening’s proverbial cake.
If one song represents Raitt’s soul, if one song must be representative of all her pain and joy housed inside her road wary ‘traveller’ – this ballad is it. ‘ Pin drop ‘ material matters in a world where human emotions sometimes are hidden by atrocities.
Humanity needs a slap in the face every once in a while …