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Review: Bonnie Raitt at Verizon Theatre/Pistol Annies at Billy Bob's Texas

Posted 3:37pm on Sunday, Sep. 30, 2012

Without knowing, Bonnie Raitt more or less summed up my Saturday night.

"I hope you get what you came for, and a whole lot more," said the guitar-slinging Grammy winner as she took the Verizon Theatre stage, before launching into Used to Rule the World, a track from Slipstream, her first album in almost 10 years. The 62-year-old singer-songwriter almost immediately flubbed the lyrics ("Welcome to 62!" she merrily shouted), but recovered and kept the audience, many of whom ceaselessly shouted declarations of love towards the stage, clapping and dancing in their seats. (That she was joined onstage by World's author, opener Randall Bramblett, was just a little awkward.)

Capable of rip-snorting up-tempo tunes (the staple Something to Talk About was recast in an off-hand fashion) and heartbreaking ballads (You Can't Fail Me Now, taken from Slipstream), Raitt, who hasn't toured widely in close to a decade, betrayed no rust, and backed by her extraordinary band (bassist James Hutchinson, guitarist George Marinelli, drummer Ricky Fataar and keyboardist Mike Finnigan), ably blended the new and the classic. Given her peg as a blues aficionado, it's easy to forget that Raitt is no slouch in the pop/rock department either, as she demonstrated on her cover of Gerry Rafferty's reggae-tinged Right Down the Line.

And while I would've happily remained in my seat for the duration of her 105-minute set (I wanted to hear I Can't Make You Love Me, dang it!), I had to bail midway through, in order to duck back into the steady downpour, and make tracks for Billy Bob's Texas and the sold-out Pistol Annies show.

(A special thanks to Big Mike Richardson, who took pity on me and passed along this clip he shot of Raitt performing I Can't Make You Love Me during the encore.)

It was a bit of a shock to go from the relatively sedate crowd at Verizon to the rowdy, riled-up folks at Billy Bob's Texas. Sold out days before the show, the showroom was packed to the walls with people (almost overwhelmingly female), and when Angaleena Presley, Ashley Monroe and Miranda Lambert (best known as Pistol Annies) appeared on stage, the roar was deafening.

Four months after the trio's North Texas debut, Pistol Annies returned for a breakneck, 75-minute set that showcased nearly all of the group's superb freshman effort Hell on Heels (which, given its 30-minute run time, isn't a tall order). It was remarkable to see just how much more loose Lambert, sporting a Stockyards T-shirt, seemed, surrounded by Presley and Monroe, along with several of her long-time band members (guitarist Scotty Wray and bassist Aden Bubeck, among others).

When performing by herself, she can seem to visibly bear the weight of being a country music superstar, personable but a bit removed. Not so Saturday night -- she was giggling, tearing up and flouncing from one side of the stage to the other, having, by all appearances, the time of her life. It was heartwarming to see her having such a good time.

Hell on Heels's brevity meant lots of extra tunes (Lambert aired out an acoustic take on White Liar, while Monroe offered up a showstopping rendition of The Truth, a hit she penned for Jason Aldean) and cover songs, including Chain of Fools, Mercedes Benz and You Ain't Woman Enough. To say that the crowd ate it all up would be underselling it -- the screams never let up, and the Annies gladly basked in the adoration. Hopefully, as Lambert's career continues its steady ascension, she won't forsake this creative outlet, one which seems to rejuvenate her and give her a safe space to let off a little steam. In a way, it allows her to get what she came for -- and a whole lot more.

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