Bonnie Raitt performing her Dig In Deep Tour at The Symphony Hall Birmingham on Monday 30th May 2016
Bonnie Raitt performing at The Royal Concert Hall on Sunday 23rd June 2013
Images and Review by Kevin Cooper
With ten Grammy Awards to her name, and listed by Rolling Stone as being in the top one hundred singers and guitarist of all time, blues artist Bonnie Raitt is an American institution and last night she graced the stage of The Symphony Hall in Birmingham to show why she is worthy of such accolades.
Fronting a superb tight band of top notch musicians, her long serving crew of George Marinelli on guitar, ‘Hutch’ Hutchinson on bass, keyboardist Mike Finnigan and Ricky Fataar on drums, all served to make this a memorable event.
Opening with a song from her twentieth album, Dig In Deep, her cover of Inxs’ Need You Tonight set the bar for the rest of the evening. She knows the blues, musically as much as emotionally and she was quickly into her stride. There was the up-tempo numbers such as Los Lobos’ Shakin’ Shakin’ Shakes which was brilliant, but when she slowed things down with a funky reggae rendition of Gerry Rafferty’s Right Down The Line, there wasn’t a single member of this packed audience who wasn’t mesmerised.
In front of a colourful Pacific sunrise and sunset backdrop the band basked in the glow from a packed house. As she masterfully constructed a two hour set where there was simply not a dud in sight, she engaged easily with the audience throughout; a huge smile never far from her face.
She mixed new tracks such as Gypsy In Me and the stomping rock ‘n’ roll of The Comin’ Round Is Going Through with fans favourites like Something To Talk About and the simply awesome Hear Me Lord.
She handed over vocal duties to the man behind the Hammond organ, Mike Finnigan for their cover of B.B. King’s Don’t Answer The Door, and what a job he made of his moment in the spotlight, as he dragged a wonderful blues voice to the front, transporting us to some smoky south side Chicago club.
But Raitt was the star of the show. Well known as one of the greatest slide guitarists of all time, her playing was brilliant; smooth and slinky to gritty and downright dirty. When she reverted to the acoustic guitar, there were exquisite acknowledgments to JB Lenoir with Round And Round, and Sippie Wallace with Mighty Town Woman.
Despite the demands of a long and powerful career, it is hard to imagine that her voice had ever sounded better than it did last night, and coupled with the wonderful acoustics of the Symphony Hall, the night was just sheer entertainment.
But it was just Raitt and her guitar that came back to start the encore with a subliminal I Can’t Make You Love Me, which had the whole Symphony Hall up on their feet in appreciation. Finishing with a delve back to her second album for a lively version of Too Long At The Fair, she made certain that her band and crew received due respect for their part in a quite outstanding night.