Bonnie Raitt and Richard Thompson Trio at Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison, CO on 9/8/16

Walking up the stairs leading into Red Rocks Amphitheatre, it appeared the entryway was closed due to a number of people gathered by the gateway.  When I got closer, I realized it wasn’t a line… just music fans of advanced years trying to catch their breath from the steep climb.  It occurred to me that I might not be the Old Guy at the Show tonight.

B.B. King stated, “Bonnie Raitt was one of the best damn slide guitar players (ever).”  Rolling Stone Magazine ranks her in the top 100 best guitar players of all time.  She has a distinctive guitar tone, an amazing soulful voice, and a loyal fan base that has given her a career for over forty years.

Bonnie Raitt

Bonnie Raitt started with INXS’ I Need You Tonight from her latest album Dig in Deep (her 20th studio album).  She reshaped the 1980’s pop classic into a slow sexy blues number. Since Raitt has made a career transforming other artists’ music into her own, it was a perfect indicator of the night to come.  A few songs later, Raitt covered Los Lobos’ Shakin’ Shakin’ Shake.  The sign language interrupter off to the side of the stage momentarily stole the spotlight with her expressive signing and dancing (signing a song about shakin’ sure looks like fun).

Bonnie Raitt

Opener Richard Thompson joined her to play guitar on Not the Only One (he played guitar on the 1991 record).  Thompson continued to play while Bonnie Raitt covered his song Dimming of the Lights. It was momentous to see two legendary musicians perform together.

Her version of John Prine’s Angel From Montgomery was the highlight of the evening.  Armed with only an acoustic guitar, Raitt’s voice combined with the heart breaking lyrics echoing off the rocks on a perfect summer night melted the audience hearts… “just give me one thing that I can hold on to /to believe in this living is just a hard way to go.

Raitt and her band

Keyboardist Mike Finnigan took over vocals for a cover of B.B. King’s Don’t Answer the Door.  “Yes, I don’t want you to open the door for anybody, woman/ oh, when you’re home and you know you’re all alone.” He made the paranoid delusional hostage taking lyrics fun.  It made you want to dance instead of call the authorities.

Bonnie Raitt declared, “I am going to play this heart-breaking song because it comes with the gig” as an introduction to I Can’t Make You Love Me.  She played it on the keyboard with a slight delay for dramatic effect.   Raitt sang with such strong emotion the audience had a collective sigh when it ended.

When she wasn’t talking about the upcoming election or fracking between songs (in her charming non-preachy way), Raitt continuously reapplied lipstick.  She didn’t want to appear as a frazzled red dot for the fans in the cheap seats.  Raitt joked it the real reason behind her strict no camera policy.  It was lifted for the last song Your Sweet and Shinny Eyes.  Raitt remarked, “Look at all those fireflies coming out.”

Richard Thompson Electric Trio

The Richard Thompson Electric Trio opened the show.  Thompson is a renowned musician that has been performing since the late 1960’s. He started with the rocking Fork in the Road from last year’s Still album.  With his British accent Thompson clarified the title was Fork and to get your minds out of the gutter.  My favorite moment was when he put down his Stratocaster and picked up his acoustic guitar to play 1952 Vincent Black Lightning.  His unique finger picking was impressive and the song is my favorite motorcycle ballad ever (okay… it’s the only motorcycle ballad I know).

My Mother stated if I thought the crowd was of advanced years, she remembers Bonnie Raitt’s late father John Raitt performing on Broadway.  See you at the next show.  I’ll be the one contemplating about re-naming his blog.

Against Me!, Planes Mistaken for Stars, and Bleached Riot Fest After Party at The Marquis Theater in Denver, CO on 9/2/16.

Standing in line for Against Me!, it occurred to me this might be an extremely late night.  It was already 10:00 PM and the doors hadn’t opened.  Most of the crowd just spent the entire day at Riot Fest. They seemed worn out from the sun, drinking, and loud music. A few desperate fans were offering three times the face value for a ticket.  Nobody was selling.  They were not going to miss a chance to see their favorite band perform in a small dark club late at night.  The place and time God intended punk music to be performed.

Laura Jane Grace

Laura Jane Grace is the lead singer of the band Against Me! from Gainesville, Florida. The band recorded one of the best albums of 2014 entitled Transgender Dysphoria Blues. It’s full of fast paced catchy punk songs about …. being a woman stuck in a man’s body.  Laura Jane Grace came out as transgender in 2012.  With songs entitled True Trans Soul Rebel and Paralytic States it gives the listeners a unique insight.  Not the typical subject for a punk album.

When the band hit the stage, the music festival fatigued audience went from yawning to wide-eyed frenzy.  The majority of the crowd knew every song by heart. I first thought something was wrong with the sound system, but it was just a scary looking guy behind me singing badly to One of the Jocks, “there will always be a difference/ between me and you.”  Her true-life struggles expressed in her music definitely created an emotional link with the punk crowd.

Against Me!

After performing The Clash’s Train in Vain, Grace stated the song was for all the Moms and Dads in the audience (the young crowd dressed in black glanced my way). Close to the end of their set, a guy from the mosh pit jumped on the stage, grabbed the microphone from bassist Inge Johansson, and sang.  The band didn’t flinch and just smiled until the want-to-be-singer dived back into the crowd. You would assume security would tackle him, but the guy in the Marquis Theater shirt just took a deep sigh.  It went with the theme of the night (acceptance of gender identity as well as acceptance of stage diving).  It was close to 2:00 AM when the show ended.  Against Me! played Riot Fest the following day.  Later that morning, Laura Jane Grace tweeted, “I wish my band would recognize what a triumph of the human will and spirit it is that I actually showed up for lobby call this morning.”  I agree because it took me an entire day to recover.

Planes Mistaken for Stars
Planes Mistaken as Stars was the second band on the bill. The aggressive emocore band formed in Peoria, Illinois in 1999 and moved to Denver, Colorado a few years later.  After taking an extremely long time to tune their instruments, singer Gared O’Donnell preached to the crowd about the importance of taking care of oneself (maybe he should take his own advise).  The band went twenty minutes past their scheduled time by performing a lengthy song about being lost (not the wisest move for a crowd waiting for the headliner after midnight). Let’s just assume Planes Mistaken for Stars low energy performance was due to exhaustion from playing at the festival earlier that day. The band will release their first new music in ten years entitled Prey in October.

Bleached

Los Angeles, California quartet Bleached opened the show. Singer Jennifer Francis Clavin and her younger sister lead guitarist Jessica Carter Clavin took the band though a short set of high-energy pop punk.  The highlight was their extremely infectious Wednesday Night Melody.  It had a Joan Jett beat (I Love Rock N Roll), sing along lyrics, and a fake ending tease. Jessica Carter Clavin climbed on top of an amplifier to shred while waving her indigo colored locks to the delight of the sleepy crowd.  It was the best guitar solo from someone with blue hair that I have ever witnessed. 

See you at the next show.  I’ll be the one comfortable with your gender identity.

It went much later