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Bonnie Raitt candid and casual at Cobb Energy show

Bonnie Raitt brought soul and grit to Cobb Energy on Wednesday. Photos: Raymond Hagans

Bonnie Raitt brought soul and grit to Cobb Energy on Wednesday. Photos: Raymond Hagans

Not many shows start with the artist briefly halting the proceedings because something got stuck in her bra strap, but nothing about Bonnie Raitt has ever been typical.

Before she and her crackerjack four-piece band played a note at Wednesday’s Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre gig, Raitt took a moment to admire the venue – something she did several times throughout the show – and chat with the crowd.

It was a refreshingly intimate, barrier-breaking launch that set the casual tone for her nearly two-hour concert, her first Atlanta appearance since a Chastain stop in 2009.

She stuck to her promise of playing a mixture of old and new songs, kicking off the night with her fine reggae-lite version of Gerry Rafferty’s “Right Down the Line,”  the lead single from her recently released “Slipstream” album – her first new one in seven years that has been comfortably ensconced at the top of the Billboard blues chart for three weeks.

The sights were immediately familiar – that blond forelock set against her fiery mane, the bottleneck slide on her left middle finger. And Raitt was quick with a quip (“At 62, I’m grateful to remember most of [the words]”), a comeback (“Oh, honey, if you only knew. I look good from up here,” she said to a guy shouting out a marriage proposal) or some simple philosophies (“Every day above ground is a miracle”).

But her candid chatter never got in the way of the music.

“Something to Talk About,” her biggest pop hit from 21 (!!) years ago, made an early appearance with Raitt slightly tweaking the phrasing, most likely for her own sanity. Then she switched to an acoustic guitar to unveil “Million Miles,” the Bob Dylan song she recorded on “Slipstream.”

Raitt and longtime guitarist George Marinelli traded licks throughout the show.

Raitt and longtime guitarist George Marinelli traded licks throughout the show.

Her voice stretched the notes like taffy – or, rather, taffy drenched in whiskey – during the song, a ballad that took its time with a visceral electric piano solo from Mike Finnigan and a sizzling guitar lead from George Marinelli.

Raitt’s comfort level among her longtime bandmates was a joy to watch  whether she was bumping foreheads with Marinelli, giving a shoutout to bassist “Hutch” Hutchinson, praising “the engine room,” drummer Ricky Fataar, or turning the spotlight over to Finnigan, as she did later in the show when he pumped out Ray Charles’ “I’ve Got News for You.”

She has always cautiously embraced the commercial side of her success, but there is no doubt how much Raitt enjoys being onstage. Good thing, too, since the (more or less) sold out Atlanta stop was only a few dates into a live journey that rolls through October.

For many singers, looking down an itinerary of 80-plus shows foreshadows vocal disaster. But Raitt’s voice is one of unvarnished beauty, an instrument that zig-zags from teasing sexiness (“Come to Me”) to aching melancholy (“Not ‘Cause I Wanted To”) and injects battle-scarred wisdom into every lyric.

Her guitar skills, too, are undiminished with age, as she effortlessly drew solos out of her cooperative Fender, notably on the blues-rock grinder “Spit of Love” and the locomotive chugger, “I Feel So Damn Good (I’ll Be Glad When I Get The Blues).”

Raitt's "Slipstream" album is her first new release in seven years.

Raitt's "Slipstream" album is her first new release in seven years.

Raitt was also joined by Randall Bramblett, who opened the show as a last-minute fill-in for an ailing Marc Cohn, on “Used to Rule the World,” a song Bramblett co-wrote on “Slipstream.” It wasn’t the most memorable tune of the night, but both he and Raitt appeared to enjoy the live give-and-take.

The first ovation came, unsurprisingly, after Raitt’s tender rendition of “Angel from Montgomery,” the John Prine song most associated with her early career.

But the most potent emotional wallop was saved for an encore performance of “I Can’t Make You Love Me.” Few singers deliver heartache like Raitt, and two decades after the song’s appearance on her “Luck of the Draw” album, the spare ballad is still shuddering with deep sadness.

Raitt’s voice, set against the light tap of a high-hat and minimal piano, was chill-inducing as it alternately soared and dipped, husky and vulnerable. Those whose hearts didn’t crumble must have ice in their veins.

Even Raitt, who was in a chipper mood throughout the show, looked drained by the last notes, another unguarded moment in a concert full of them.

Check out our photo gallery from Wednesday’s show.

Follow me on Twitter: @ajclifestyle

22 comments Add your comment

Freddie Mercury's spirit

May 10th, 2012
6:43 am

Bonnie can still sing her heart out!

Fortunate

May 10th, 2012
7:27 am

What a night…. pure joy. Thanks for coming back out Bonnie!

Lithia Girl

May 10th, 2012
7:37 am

Great show! Loved every minute except for having to endure the inconsiderate chatter of the 3 women behind us. Why would you buy a ticket to a concert and then talk through the whole thing?

Shoe Queen

May 10th, 2012
7:55 am

Hey Lithia Girl! I must have been sitting next to you. I too endured the loud, inconsiderate blabber of 3 women. The show was amazing. The venue was perfect. What a great evening.

Jan

May 10th, 2012
8:32 am

Here is the set list from last night (somebody please fill in #7 and correct anyhting I may have wrong here):

Set List – Atlanta, Cobb Energy Center, May 9, 2012

1. Right Down the Line (Gerry Rafferty) from Slipstream
2. Something to Talk About (Shirley Eikhard) from Luck of the Draw
3. Million Miles (Bob Dylan) from Slipstream
4. You Can’t Fail Me Now (Joseph Lee Henry/Loudon Wainwright III) fom Slipstream
5. Spit of Love (Bonnie Raitt) from Fundamental
6. Come to Me (Bonnie Raitt) from Luck of the Draw
7. (Can’t read my writing so somebody please fill this one in for me… it has “You” in there!)
8. Ain’t Gonna Let You Go” (Al Anderson/Bonnie Bramlett) from Slipstream
9. Not Cause I Wanted (Bonnie Raitt) Slipstream
10. Angel from Montgomery (John Prine) from Streetlights
11. Down to You (Bonnie Rait) from Slipstream
12. I’ve Got News for You (Ray Charles) performed by Mike Finnigan
13. Used to Rule the World (Randall Bramblett, Sam Bush, Tom Ryan) from Slipstream
14. I Feel So Damn Good – I’ll Be Glad When I Got the Blues (Jon Cleary)
15. I Can’t Make You Love Me (Mike Reid and Allen Shamblin) from Luck of the Draw
16. Have a Heart (Bonnie Raitt) from Nick of Time
17. A Big Hunk of Love (Aaron Schroeder, Sid Jaxon) Originally recorded by Elvis in 1959

Frank Furter

May 10th, 2012
8:46 am

crackbaby

May 10th, 2012
8:56 am

Sorry I missed the show. That woman has soul!

Concert calendar looks good this summer!

rock

May 10th, 2012
9:10 am

What an incredible performance. Couldn’t think of a better way to spend a pre-Mother’s day out with girlfriends! Real hard to sit still to Bonnie’s music so we switched location in theatre to dance the night away. We love you Bonnie!

Becky

May 10th, 2012
9:25 am

Love Bonnie Raitt, but the only time that I have ever seen her in concert, she was wasted and forgot most of the words to the songs that she was singing…Not to mention that it same down a major gully washer why we were there..

RobbE33

May 10th, 2012
9:34 am

Bonnie AND Randall, together? Epic!

Richard Head

May 10th, 2012
9:44 am

Loved the show! She is so sassy and talented! Love her! EXCEPT for the venue…first time at the Cobb. Wasnt impressed with the library type atmosphere they create. Closed the concessions as Bonnie started to sing. You kidding? Felt like I was in a government complex. Is that place run by Cobb County?

JimG

May 10th, 2012
10:19 am

Her voice was terrific. She showed real skill and touch and rhythm with guitar. Engaged the audience throughout at a casual and personal level. Seemed genuinely affected by and grateful for audience response. Terrific accompanying musicians who clearly enjoyed playing together. Great, fun show, better than I expected.

Melissa Ruggieri

May 10th, 2012
10:28 am

Hi Jan- song #7 was “Marriage Made in Hollywood” from the new album…co-written by her ex-husband, Michael O’Keefe.

Mike

May 10th, 2012
11:32 am

What a FANTASTIC show!!!! Missed Marc Cohn, who is also great live, but LOVED Randall Bramblett. (He has a free show at the Mablehouse this summer!!!) I’ve seen Bonnie before a few at least 10 years ago. She was good then, but this show was just amazing! Plus the sound was perfect, as usual for Cobb Energy Center. This is DEFINITELY the best sounding venu for concerts in Atlanta right now. Most of the crowd was there to enjoy the music, rather that socialize like Chastain is so famous for. I hope Bonnie releases this as a DVD/Bluray concert. It was THAT GOOD!

thenightwitch

May 10th, 2012
12:24 pm

Saw her in Philadelphia, Ms. Just love her style and singing. So sorry I missed her.

Lisa

May 10th, 2012
12:32 pm

FABULOUS review, Melissa. You nailed it and so did Bonnie! What an incredible live experience, never to be repeated.

Atom Girl

May 10th, 2012
2:07 pm

Rock on Bonnie Raitt. Our MUSE!!

Jan

May 10th, 2012
2:34 pm

Here is the complete set list from last night:

Set List – Atlanta, Cobb Energy Center, May 9, 2012

1. Right Down the Line (Gerry Rafferty) from Slipstream
2. Something to Talk About (Shirley Eikhard) from Luck of the Draw
3. Million Miles (Bob Dylan) from Slipstream
4. You Can’t Fail Me Now (Joseph Lee Henry/Loudon Wainwright III) fom Slipstream
5. Spit of Love (Bonnie Raitt) from Fundamental
6. Come to Me (Bonnie Raitt) from Luck of the Draw
7. Marriage Made in Hollywood (Paul Brady/Michael O’Keefe) from Slipstream
8. Ain’t Gonna Let You Go” (Al Anderson/Bonnie Bramlett) from Slipstream
9. Not Cause I Wanted (Bonnie Raitt) Slipstream
10. Angel from Montgomery (John Prine) from Streetlights
11. Down to You (Bonnie Rait) from Slipstream
12. I’ve Got News for You (Ray Charles) performed by Mike Finnigan
13. Used to Rule the World (Randall Bramblett, Sam Bush, Tom Ryan) from Slipstream
14. I Feel So Damn Good – I’ll Be Glad When I Got the Blues (Jon Cleary)
15. I Can’t Make You Love Me (Mike Reid and Allen Shamblin) from Luck of the Draw
16. Have a Heart (Bonnie Raitt) from Nick of Time
17. A Big Hunk of Love (Aaron Schroeder, Sid Jaxon) Originally recorded by Elvis in 1959

circle R

May 10th, 2012
3:22 pm

Still shaking my head that I didn’t hear about this show until yesterday! Would love to see her live and sounds like I missed a good one.

John Merritt

May 10th, 2012
8:32 pm

8 songs from the new disc was a bit much. 5 would have good and some deeper cuts.

guitarissts

May 11th, 2012
1:28 am

Bonnie Raitt is an American blues singer-songwriter and a renowned slide guitar player. She usually playes blues, country anf folk-rock kind of music. She is a well known blues guitar player. She has recieve nine Grammy Aeard in her career and is a lifelong political activist.

Marlene Brown

May 14th, 2012
11:02 pm

one of the best concerts I have ever seen. She is even better than when I saw her twenty years ago. It was an honor to be there. She is a remarkable woman!