Bonnie Raitt + Martin Simpson @ Birmingham Symphony Hall – Tuesday 11th June 2013


Review & photos by Rich Ward

Bonnie Raitt’s visits to this side of the Atlantic aren’t a common occurence. So it’s not surprising to see that the Symphony Hall is packed out tonight with her fans making the most of the opportunity. Similarly, Bonnie is making the most of it too. Her short tour in the UK has seen a slot at the Isle Of Wight Festival and also a high profile appearance on Jools Holland. All in all it’s a well planned promotional tour to push her new critically acclaimed ‘Slipstream’ album.

Bonnie Raitt

The evening was opened by acoustic solo performer Martin Simpson. Unfamiliar with any of his work, I felt that there were for too many lengthy diatribes between his songs. This is fine if you’re playing to the faithful upstairs in the Dog and Duck, but in the Symphony Hall and to a potentially large new audience, he failed to hold my interest, and it would seem, I was not alone in opting for an early retreat to the bar.

Bonnie RaittAlthough grounded in the blues, much of Raitt’s work crosses several genres from country, rock and pure Americana, and all are touched on during the evening. Opening with a new song is always a bold move for such an established artist, but Bonnie pulls this off on Slipstream’s ‘Used To Rule The World’. It’s proof enough that Bonnie’s proud of her new album, and rightly so. A large amount of songs from ‘Slipstream’ are spread throughout the following set.

A cover of Gerry Rafferty’s ‘Right Down The Line’ picks things up a little and features some excellent keyboard work from Mike Finnigan, along with Bonnie’s trademark slide guitar. ‘Something To Talk About’ sees some nice interplay with guitarist George Marinelli. Sticking with the new album, Bob Dylan’s ‘Million Miles’ is sparse and haunting, while the more familiar ‘Angel Of Montgomery’, which was dedicated to her mother, unsurprisingly receives one of the warmest responses from the crowd.

The encores start with a mesmerising ‘I Can’t Make You Love Me’, which proves to be another highlight of the evening. After almost two hours, the evening came to a rocking close with a cover of Elvis’ ‘Big Hunk O’ Love’. I would have personally preferred a few more rockier numbers in the set, but it was a great end to an evening all the same, and on the evidence of the audience reaction she’ll be delighting plenty more people across the country on her remaining UK dates.


Set List:Bonnie Raitt
Used To Rule The World
Right Down The Line
Something To Talk About
Million Miles
You Can’t Fail Me Now
Come To Me
Take My Love With You
Angel From Montgomery
Marriage Made In Hollywood
Love Letter
Love Sneakin’ Up On You
Thing Called Love
I Got News For You
I Feel So Damn Good

I Can’t Make You Love Me
Have A Heart
A Big Hunk O’ Love