State Theatre, Sydney
This was just superb. Bonnie’s voice, always warm and soulful, is so rich and powerful these days without losing any of the aforementioned warmth and soulfulness. She can belt it out without ever sounding strained or forced. The result is you just bathe in the beauty of this exquisite singing.
But wait – there’s more – she can whip it out on the Strat, her slide playing is still as bluesy as ever, dirty and raw but exquisitely controlled, like all the best guitar players.
And what a crack band – the great Ricky Fataar on drums – forget the Beach Boys and The Rutles, this guy can hold down a groove a la the Jims Gordon and Keltner, and works seamlessly with Bonnie’s longtime bassist James Hutchinson. Then there’s also George Marinelli on guitar, who’s good, although pretty average on mandolin which he plays a bit too often. And then on keyboards – Mike Finnegan, last heard (by me) on Electric Ladyland FFS! He takes a lovely solo spot on BB King’s “Don’t Answer The Door” – I’ll post a YouTube clip of a previous performance in the comments.
The setlist was from all over Bonnie’s career – I’m not such a fan of the later stuff (this is the Afterword, right?) but I have to say her version of “I Can’t Make You Love Me’ with just MF on electric piano was heartbreaking. She did John Prine’s “Angel From Montgomery”, and Chris Smither’s “I Feel The Same”, both early songs I loved from her early career. She name checked Lowell George and Bill Payne, and you could tell she was having difficulty restraining herself talking about Trump (this concert was the same day as the Syrian bombing). She’s been to Australia a lot recently, mentioned that Ricky Fataar has lots of mates here (he lived here for a while), and obviously likes it here – hey, she can sell out a night at the State Theatre (mind you Patti Smith just sold out two nights).
A wonderful night, loved it.
Oh and Rhiannon Giddens did a great support set too
90% over 50s at a guess, tickets were the usual $130+, and the State Theatre is not yer 20-somethings venue, even though I know my own kids, all in that age bracket, would have loved it. (They didn’t go because they’re all overseas. They all heard her at BluesFest a couple of years ago and loved her. But they wouldn’t have been able to afford this concert)
It made me think..
Some voices improve with age. OTTOMH – Bonnie Raitt, Neil Finn. Some, sadly, seem to weaken – Macca unfortunately from recent YouTube evidence at the Desert Trip thingo