TAJ MAHAL AND BONNIE RAITT, Red Butte Garden Amphitheater, Sept. 1
R&B grande dame Bonnie Raitt rolled into Salt Lake Tuesday night and hosted a rip-roarin' blues revue that brought out the best of the Red Butte Garden Ampitheatre and felt like the biggest—and most awesome—backyard party of the summer.
The packed-to-the-gills garden venue was the perfect setting for a night of familiar tunes, and even the ever-present, wine-and-cheese set got loose enough to get up and shake it.
Raitt delivered a solid, at times even transcendental, set of hits and blues classics, keeping the 2,500-plus in attendance on their feet throughout the show.
Besides a voice that continues to deliver at every level, Raitt's guitar prowess kept pace with her band of all-stars, and she ripped off a smokin' and extended slide-heavy solo on the break of her take on "Your Good Thing (Is About To End)." Raitt offered thanks to '60s Stax Records artist Mable Jones, who made the song penned by soulmasters Isaac Hayes and David Porter a hit.
Taj Mahal and his Phantom Blues Band got things going Tuesday night, and instead of just warming up the crowd, got the audience into a state of smolder before Raitt took the stage. Taj was back early in Raitt's set and sat down to do a couple of blues numbers with her — trading guitar licks and a little lowdown vocal repartee. The two are in the midst of doing 30-plus concert dates together, and Raitt said while she and Taj are longtime friends, it was the first time they shared a tour bill.
Raitt came back with her band and banged out the John Prine tune "Angel From Montgomery," recorded on her 1974 album, "Streetlights" and followed that with the hit "I Will Not Be Broken" from 2005's "Souls Alike."
Among the biggest crowd-pleasers was a fairly straight-up version of "Something To Talk About." The smash from 1991 is possibly Raitt's best known tune from the multi-platinum "Luck Of The Draw" album.
In a show of musical solidarity, and love of the blues, Raitt, her band, and Taj and his Phantoms, all took the stage together for a final blowout set of classics, including Taj's "She Caught The Caty" that had the whole place smilin' and dancin' til the lights went out.