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Bonnie Raitt

State Theatre, April 7

There are, to borrow a phrase from one of her more recent songs, some unintended consequences of love if you’re a Bonnie Raitt fan.

You start saying things like smooth and sensuous and run the risk of sounding, well, sleazy – but you can’t help it: there’s something electric to the skin in Raitt’s singing which seems unfairly effortless considering what it can do to you.

Your eyes light up at the thought of a bit of slide guitar and you start to nod appreciatively the instant a familiar blues rhythm sets in. And when Andrew Farriss and Michael Hutchence’s Need You Tonight is translated – or is that returned? – from funk to blues you start taking back some of those things you once said about the later INXS albums.

You emit a little growl of satisfaction when Raitt eases back into a melody and drummer Ricky Fataar slides you down like a Jason Recliner, and sit up in your seat little more when keyboardist Mike Finnegan takes over vocals for BB King’s Don’t Answer The Door.

And you find yourself chanting a stupid rhyme in the car on the way home, and the next morning, and probably well into the day: Bonnie Raitt is pretty great. (Ok, maybe that’s just me, and a few martinis.)

Even more than her last show here, almost four years to the day, this show was a sublime combination of silken and earthy.

Everything seemed easy and natural, accommodating without succumbing to comfortable. Everything seemed touched by a very real emotion: often enough desire but also regret, hurt, amusement, loss.

Yes, it ought to be good: she’s been doing this for more than 40 years. But time is no indicator of anything except itself.

And time won’t keep the passion strong to find new ways with old songs such as I Can’t Make You Love Me, or construct new ones of pretty decent quality such as The Comin’ Round Is Going Through, or give you the ear to know a quality song you should always include, like John Prine’s Angel Of Montgomery.

Time also won’t make you smart and confident enough to do quality supports, as is her habit.

Last time here, Raitt was paired with Mavis Staples for a powerhouse show; this time the night was opened by Rhiannon Giddens who was a little subdued but utterly compelling in her distillation of American roots sounds.

If you can, you should see her shows, or her set at Blues Fest – you won’t be disappointed.

Actually, maybe that is an intended consequence of loving Raitt: from curtain up to lights on, constant, thorough satisfaction.

Bonnie Raitt is pretty great – I’ve heard that said somewhere.

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