American blues icon Bonnie Raitt performed before a packed house Sunday night at Portland’s Keller auditorium, delivering an impeccable 2-hour performance fans will likely recall for years. The stellar performer and 10 Grammy award-winner delivered what her fans come back for time and again: heartfelt sincerity, preeminent slide guitar showmanship, a flair for style and her potent backup band.

From the get-go it was apparent the sold-out 3,000 capacity Keller Auditorium was in for a memorable night. Raitt – smartly dressed in an emerald green blouse with black slacks and boots – came on stage to thunderous applause and the entire house on its feet to welcome the accomplished blues singer-songwriter back to Portland.

Raitt and her band opened the show with their foot-stomping cover of INXS’ “Need You Tonight” from the new “Dig in Deep” release, followed closely by “Used to Rule the World” from her last “Slipstream” album and “I Knew,” also from “Deep.”

Included early in the evening was Raitt’s new cover of Los Lobos rollicking “Shakin’ Shakin’ Shakes,” a track PRP added to our playlist over the weekend:

Shakin’ Shakin’ Shakes

Lustrous career in music

In the 70s Raitt released a series of roots-influenced albums incorporating elements of blues, folk and rock – “Give it Up” a perennial favorite of many. She made the blues popular once more in the late 80s with a Grammy-win for “Nick of Time.”

In 2012 Raitt released her first studio album since 2005 – “Slipstream” – which charted at Number 6 on the Billboard 200. Raitt is listed number 89 in Rolling Stone’s list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time” and Number 50 on their “Greatest Singers of All Time” list. “Dig in Deep” is her twentieth album.

Band members performing with Raitt on the current tour include James “Hutch” Hutchinson, bass; Ricky Fataar, drums; George Marinelli, guitar; and Mike Finnigan on keyboards. The band has quite clearly crafted, honed and polished the setlist for the current tour and Sunday night’s performance was likely given a little extra oomph from Keller Auditorium’s clear sound system which delivered mightily throughout the venue. Unfortunately, cameras were all but banned from the Keller, making it difficult for this music reviewer who must also add it was refreshing not to observe seas of lit screens…and focus just on music.

Raitt is still ever-the-observant humanitarian. “If I think about the world situation for more than 30 seconds, I gotta gag,” she proclaimed last night, adding “We need the healing power of music.” She then launched into the upbeat “Something to Talk About” from “Luck of the Draw,” getting the entire audience to its feet with ease.

Other concert highlights included her new “The Comin’ Round is Going Through,” a song Raitt has said is about “my frustration and anger about the hijacking of democracy by big money,” and “Angel from Montgomery,” a John Prine composition Raitt immortalized in her 1974 “Streetlights” release.

The song always elicits enormous fan appreciation and although dozens of artists have covered “Angel,” its Raitt’s that remains the quintessential cover.


Following two hours of nonstop musical revelry, the night came to a close but not before an encore that included “Love Sneakin’ Up on You” and “Nick of Time.”

Raitt thanked her fans for coming to her shows over the years and the night was over all-too-soon.

The New Orleans style R&B Blues band California Honey Drops opened the night with a mighty mix of songs that brought the crowd to their feet several times.

Well-worth becoming more familiar with, read more about them on their website.

Bonnie Raitt heads next to Washington, Nevada, California and Texas – more tour dates here.

Cynthia Orlando
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