Bonnie Raitt could teach her peers a thing or 15.
Saturday at the Bank of America Pavilion the veteran rocker provided a textbook example of how to put on a sublime show.
It starts with a wise choice of opening act and Raitt picked a pistol in the resurgent soul legend Mavis Staples.
It continues with the headliner in a great mood and great voice. Raitt was practically glowing on Saturday and sounded as strong as ever, owing in part to the tremendous response of the sold out audience, a clutch of friends in that audience and, she confessed near the end of the show, a visit from her special someone earlier in the day, to whom she dedicated a giddy version of “Not the Only One.”
Raitt’s approach to song choice and sequence was also note perfect, balancing classic tracks and new tunes from her latest release “Slipstream.” She moved gracefully from aching balladry (“Not Cause I Wanted To”) to scorching blues (Bob Dylan’s “Million Miles”) to revved up pop-rockers infused with her slinky slide guitar solos (“Something to Talk About”), creating a seamless arc for the two hour show. We were scarcely done drying our eyes from the poignant “Angel From Montgomery” when Raitt shrewdly picked the pace back up with the rollicking “Thing Called Love” and then kept the temperature boiling with “Down to You.”
Another thread in the performance was Raitt’s overflowing gratitude to her band who provided crisp accompaniment and deep harmonies. Not only did she thank them profusely and repeatedly but gave them opportunities to shine and each stepped up to the plate, particularly nimble guitarist George Marinelli and keyboardist Mike Finnigan, who also sang a ferocious “I Got News for You.”
Raitt also celebrated the songwriters who have contributed to her albums name-checking many of them and inviting “Have a Heart” author Bonnie Hayes and “Green Lights” co-songwriter Terry Adams of NRBQ onstage to contribute vocals and keys respectively, with Adams a particularly antic presence.
That gratitude was also extended to her audience, some of whom she noted have been with her for over 40 years, since she started playing in Boston as an undergrad and whose repeated ovations caused to her exclaim “You sound how I feel!”