Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium brings out the best in any performer, and night two of Bonnie Raitt’s sold-out shows at the historic venue was no different.
Raitt’s voice was all smoke and velvet throughout her 22-song set, which mixed selections from her latest album Dig in Deep, a tribute to the late B.B. King by world-class keyboardist Mike Finnigan, Talking Heads’ “Burning Down the House” and INXS’s “Need You Tonight.”
Wednesday night’s (May 4) most tender moments were “Angel From Montgomery” with surprise guest John Prine and a stripped-down performance of “I Can’t Make You Love Me.” Raitt brought out bluesman Keb’ Mo’ for Aretha Franklin’s “Baby I Love You” and Delbert McClinton for their Grammy-winning duet “Good Woman, Good Man.” Raitt and Prine closed the night with “Your Sweet and Shiny Eyes” from her 1975 album, Home Plate.
The show was a date night for many in the pews, including Martina McBride and husband John McBride, who were spotted rocking out to “Something to Talk About” in the front row of the balcony.
The concert had several Instagram-worthy moments, but the Mother Church of Country Music was a cellphone-free zone for the show, encouraging the audience to be in the present and enjoy the night.
The California Honey Drops, a band based in Oakland, California, opened with 30 minutes of soul that blended four-part harmony reminiscent of Smokey Robinson and the Miracles with New Orleans jazz.
During an encore, Raitt expressed how wonderful it is to live in a genre-free music world where great soul singers like Adele and powerful songs like Little Big Town’s “Girl Crush” reign.
Amen to that.