There are few legacy acts that hold up as well in vivacity of performance and care in musical persona as Bonnie Raitt, veritable patron saint of roots rock and preservation.
Celebrating her 17th studio album and over 45 years of recording on her tour stop in the Fred Kavli Theatre at Thousand Oaks Civic Plaza, the seminal ’70s singer-songwriter proved that her continued resilience and relevancy can be attributed to a catalogue of music that bleeds authenticity.
Few are as instantaneously energetic as Raitt and company, ripping open their set with “Unintended Consequence Of Love” from 2016’s Dig in Deep, zooming in between covers of Los Lobos and Chaka Khan. With the formidable talents of Ricky Fataar on drums and Mike Finnigan on keys, Raitt provided a revival-like setting for these superpowers of yesteryear, still going as strong as ever.
There’s a cautious callousness to Raitt’s voice, a quality undoubtedly formed after decades of overperforming at countless venues, doing so in the wake of her contemporaries losing their edge to the likes of Christmas records or fading away entirely. Raitt nonetheless sounds just as excitable as she did during the Sweet Forgiveness era.
Raitt still appears on stage as an iconoclast of the A.M. dial boy’s club, slinging the blues and clad vibrantly as ever. Like so many cherished LPs that bear her resemblance, Raitt has not lost her projected aura of the counterculture, representative of the hopelessly devoted and wearisome wanderers.
Classic cuts like “Angel From Montgomery” and “Nobody’s Girl” sound as crisp as ever in presentation. Accompanied by the otherworldly twang emanating from the Stratocaster, Raitt’s guitar prowess made the experience akin to witnessing a live reissue of sorts. The rare pleasure of seeing the songstress tickle ivories was a welcomed addition to the repertoire, offering a brief respite to allow Raitt to delve into a more somber moment.
However, the term “legacy” must be defined further in the case of the evening’s performance. Generally, the phrase denotes a perishable quality, preserved only through one’s admittance to play the hits – this not so in Raitt’s case in the slightest.
Commiserating in vulnerability and celebrating evolution has always been Raitt’s bag. In 2017, these two thresholds of her artistry still hold true, yet she’s clearly not through speaking her mind.