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Bonnie Raitt brings ‘Slipstream’ to sold-out Mesa show

Fresh from her 10th Grammy win earlier this month, the ginger goddess of bottleneck guitar, Bonnie Raitt, returned to the Valley on Sunday night, Feb. 17, playing to a packed-to-the-rafters Mesa Arts Center.

“I love this hall,” she said. “I don’t get turned around like at the Celebrity Theatre.”

She also joked about how glad she was that they had finally come up with a category for her music — Americana.

“For forty years they haven’t known what to call me,” she said. “When ‘Nick of Time’ came out, most people thought I was country. I think it was because of the hair.”

Raitt showcased her Grammy-winning new album “Slipstream” for much of the show — playing about half of the album, from the funky show-opener “Used to Rule the World” to the tabloid tale “Marriage Made in Hollywood.”

Although not known as a songwriter, Raitt has always had impeccable taste in cover tunes, and she played several from “Slipstream” as well. The late Gerry Rafferty got a nod with a reggae-fied “Right Down the Line,” as did Loudon Wainwright III, on “You Can’t Fail Me Now,” a song originally recorded by Wainwright for the movie “Knocked Up.”

Bob Dylan’s “Million Miles” was turned into a blues workout.

“He’s strange but he’s prolific,” she said of Dylan. “I think he’s gonna go places.”

Her longtime band of guitarist George Marinelli, bassist Hutch Hutchinson and former Rutle drummer Ricky Fataar were augmented by organist Mike Finnigan, who took the lead vocals on the bluesy “I’ve Got News For You.” Opening act Maia Sharp joined Raitt for “Take My Love With You.” Raitt even brought her guitar tech Danny Alvarez out to play on “Come to Me,” a favorite from her 1991 smash “Luck of the Draw.”

The biggest cheers, of course, were reserved for the hits, from the slinky, sexy “Love Sneaking Up on You” to the sublime “Angel from Montgomery.” One of the few cover tunes that actually surpasses its original, Raitt dedicated “Angel” to her late mother, singing the opening lines “I am an old woman / named after my mother” a cappella before the song built to a beautiful guitar solo from Marinelli.

After that quiet moment, Raitt was ready to rock and roll again, strapping on her Stratocaster for her 1989 comeback hit, “Thing Called Love.” In honor of Mardi Gras, Raitt closed the main set with the raucous N’awlins-flavored “I Feel So Damn Good (I’ll Be Glad When I Get The Blues).”

For the most part, the extended encore stayed on the quiet side. Starting with the smash hit “I Can’t Make You Love Me,” Raitt said she was eternally grateful that she was given the first shot at that song.

She also said it always gave her the blues to play it, leading to an amazing version of “Love Me Like a Man,” a Chris Smither tune originally featured on Raitt’s 1973 “Give It Up” album. Raitt played the classic accompanied only by Hutchinson on bass ukulele.

After plugging back in for “Love Letter” from 1989’s “Nick of Time” — the album that started her run of Grammy wins — Raitt unplugged again for the beautiful, heartbreaking closer “Louise,” from her 1977 album “Sweet Forgiveness.”

“I heard someone call out for this and I think it is appropriate in such an amazing venue,” she said.

“But I couldn’t play it after ‘I Can’t Make You Love Me’ — that would be too much emotion.”

Setlist:

“Used to Rule the World”

“Right Down the Line”

“Something to Talk About”

“Million Miles”

“You Can’t Fail Me Now”

“Love Sneaking Up on You”

“Come to Me”

“Marriage Made in Hollywood”

“Take My Love With You”

“Angel From Montgomery”

“Thing Called Love”

“I Got News For You”

“I Feel So Damn Good (I’ll Be Glad When I Get The Blues)”

Encore:

“I Can’t Make You Love Me”

“Love Me Like a Man”

“Love Letter”

“Louise”

 

By Michael Senft Special for the Republic | azcentral.com

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