Bonnie Raitt, Hutch Hutchinson, Pat Hayes and Ricky Peterson

A few thoughts on Bonnie Raitt and Mavis Staples Wednesday at the Minneapolis Convention Center:

  • Even though Raitt played pretty much the same set list she’d offered at the State Fair in 2012, this was a superior show. In fact, it probably ranks among the top-3 performances she’s given in the Twin Cities among her myriad gigs here.
  • At the fair, Raitt seemed distracted by the impending rain and rushed through some things. She was totally focused Wednesday. She gave several extraordinary vocal performances: Bob Dylan’s “Standing in the Doorway,” John Prine’s “Angel from Montgomery,” Mike Reid’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me,” Richard Thompson’s “Dimming of the Day” and Dylan’s slow-burn blues “Million Miles.”
  • Like she did at the fair, Raitt let George Marinelli take a lot of the guitar solos but she played a generous amount of slide guitar. And she was smoking.’
  • What elevated this two-hour concert into the extra-special category were not just Raitt’s impassioned vocals and smokin’ guitar work but the parade of guests who inspired these performances – radiant vocalist Lizz Wright (in town for an Ordway concert on Friday) on “Angel from Montgomery,” keyboardist Ricky Peterson, a former Raitt sideman, who joined for “I Can’t Make You Love Me” and “Love Sneakin’ Up on You,” and harmonica player Pat Hayes, another former Raitt sideman, who sat in on a few numbers with his most eloquent harp.
  • Raitt, who turns 64 on Nov. 8, said she was nearing the end of a two-year tour and had never enjoyed a tour more. Much of her program was drawn from her 2012 Grammy-winning "Slipstream" album.
  • During Staples’ predictably stirring open set, Raitt joined her for an uplifting “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” before Sister Mavis, a fiery preacher, went into “I’ll Take You There.”
  • Whether it’s because Raitt was at the State Fair 14 months ago or the Convention Center is not known for proper concerts (mostly gala benefits), there was a fairly modest crowd of only about 2,000. The sound in the auditorium is not the best. Staples’ set suffered significantly from the echoy room but Raitt’s sound man worked wonders.

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