Live Review: Bonnie Raitt, Mavis Staples

8 April 2013 | 9:03 am | Danielle O'Donohue

Raitt’s voice is one of country music’s best and it was a privilege to see both of these women.

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It's not often that a support act gets a standing ovation, but then it's not often that a support act can boast a musical career lasting 60 years and one of the most recognisable surnames in gospel music. Seventy-three-year-old Mavis Staples lifted the roof off the Enmore Theatre, took her bow then let her dear friend Bonnie Raitt take centre stage to “represent women of a certain age” with a set that showed off Raitt's flawless voice, guitar chops, cheeky attitude and an incredible band.

While Mavis Staples let her band take on some of the vocal duties, the youngest member of the Staple Singers was still in fine voice as she sang about marching down Freedom Highway and keeping her Eyes On The Prize. The gospel traditions she was brought up with were evident as she called encouragement to her backing vocalists whenever she wasn't singing, clapped along and preached joy and happiness in between songs. Leaving the stage to give her band the spotlight for a couple of instrumentals, Staples returned to bring Raitt to the stage for Will The Circle Be Unbroken and a triumphant I'll Take You There.

For most other performers Staples would've been a hard act to follow, but Raitt captivated the audience with a mix of country-blues and those searing ballads. While the lazy swing of songs like Bob Dylan cover Million Miles and Love Sneakin' Up On You gave Raitt and her band the chance to play around a little and have some fun – keyboardist Mike Finnigan in particular was a standout performer – it was the during the ballads that the audience held their collective breaths. Not Cause I Wanted To and the heartbreaker I Can't Make You Love Me were pin drop quiet moments. Raitt's voice is one of country music's best and it was a privilege to see both of these women.