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Review: Raitt rocks until curfew cuts her off
REVIEW BY JOHN BERGER / firstname.lastname@example.org
Rock and blues. Heart and soul. Both were presented in perfect proportions on Saturday, March 16, as Bonnie Raitt entertained an enthusiastic crowd at the Waikiki Shell.
Raitt was still going strong after an hour and 40 minutes, and were it not for the infamous curfew imposed at the Shell, she might well have played at least 30 minutes more. As it was, Raitt played right up to the curfew and apologized for leaving.
In the time she had, Raitt gave the crowd just about everything it could ask for.
Songs from “Slipstream,” her latest Grammy-winning album, were well represented (of course). She opened the show with a one-two-three punch of two songs from that album — “Used to Rule The World” and “Right Down The Line,” the latter done as a tribute to the late Gerry Rafferty — followed by “Something To Talk About,” Raitt’s all-time biggest pop hit to date.
“Million Miles,” another song from “Slipstream” that’s been a staple number in the set, came next. Raitt introduced it with the observation that the song’s composer, Bob Dylan, isn’t generally thought of as a blues player, but in reality has more affinity for the blues than he gets credit for.
Agree or not with Raitt’s assessment of Dylan, when she played “Million Miles,” it became a blues song.
Raitt got to most of her “must-do” material sooner or later — a remake of “Runaway” was perhaps the notable exception — but there were several surprises as well.
One of them was “Three Time Loser,” an obscure Wilson Pickett song Raitt included on an album she released in the mid-1970′s. Raitt’s performance of the track is certain to get folks looking for the original album, and for Pickett’s version of the song as well.
Raitt mentioned several times she was dispensing with the set list.
“I’m just pulling ‘em out of a hat,” she said. For instance, she said, she’d done “Three Time Loser” for fun as part of the sound check, thought it sounded good, and decided to include it in the show.
If improving parts of the set list resulted in occasional delays in getting the right instruments to Raitt, guitarist George Marinelli and bassist Hutch Hutchinson, it didn’t spoil things a bit. It also helps that Marinelli, Hutchinson, drummer Ricky Fataar and keyboardist Mike Finnigan have been with Raitt for years and were the core musicians on “Slipstream.” In short, they’ve worked with each other a lot and know how to handle the unexpected.
All four were given a generous amount of time stretch out on “Million Miles,” and all four earned spontaneous applause from the audience for their work when it was over. Guitar tech Danny Alvarez provided a third guitar on a number or two as well.
Finnigan, a tremendous keyboardist, distinguished himself as the featured vocalist on the final songs of the main set — “I’ve Got News For You” and “I Feel So Damn Good (I’ll Be Glad When I Get The Blues).” While Finnigan helped out on vocals, Raitt had plenty of room to rock it on guitar. She’d joked early in the evening about getting old (she played her first show in Hawaii in the early ’70s) and about coming to Hawaii in 20 years when she’ll be 80-something with three hairs left — “One white and two red.”
Jokes aside, there was absolutely nothing “old” in the sound of her voice or in her work on guitar. Raitt hit all the delicate emotional vocal nuances when she sang torch songs and ballads. She blended visions of romance and hints of lust with expansive uptempo driving renditions of “Something To Talk About,” “Thing Called Love” and “Love Sneakin’ Up On You.” And she delighted everyone with her work on slide guitar.
How many people were there? Well, the pool seating was full, the terrace seating looked full, and it sounded like there a lot more people further back in the dark.
With the infamous curfew clock ticking down, Raitt and her musicians left the stage just long enough to make the last 15 minutes of the show an encore. They returned for poignant rendition of “I Can’t Make You Love Me” followed by “Have A Heart” — “To make you feel better,” Raitt said.
The final song of the night was another surprise. Raitt took “A Big Hunk o’ Love,” known for more 50 years as a hit for Elvis, and made it her own. Really!
When Raitt dropped to her knees for a guitar solo in the middle of the song the crowd went crazy.
John Berger has been a mainstay in the local entertainment scene for more than 40 years. Contact him via email at email@example.com.