Bonnie Raitt surveyed a delighted crowd at the Winspear Opera House on Tuesday near the end of her concert, after they'd summoned her back for an encore. Then she scanned the grand theater's gorgeous interior.
"Man, this is a swank joint," she said. "My mom and dad would be so proud."
The 66-year-old Californian -- a maven of soulful, bluesy vocals and sensual slide guitar -- has played all kinds of venues in her decades-long career, from dingy clubs to stadiums. We're betting she's rocked 'em all, too, after witnessing the show she and her veteran band put on Tuesday night.
Raitt's presence proved electrifying from the moment she began her set with a bouncy, bluesy take on INXS's "Need You Tonight" (a cut from this year's Dig In Deep). She's an ace at kicking out the kind of groove that prevents you from sitting still.
During the similarly infectious and funky "Used to Rule the World," she finished a vocal line and proclaimed, "This is for Prince!" That's a case of game recognizing game: Like the recently deceased legend, she's a consummate professional who puts every ounce of her energy into the music itself.
Another nod to a musical elephant-in-the-room came later when Raitt talked about about pouring everything into music, and then pivoted to praising Beyoncé.
Apparently she and her band members caught the Lemonade special this past weekend along with the rest of the world.
"I recommend it," she said. "I am floored by the artistry and power and courage of that woman."
What followed were Raitt's own displays of artistry and courage, as she offered a breathtaking, torch-y rendition of the 1991 smash "I Can't Make You Love Me."
Yep, Raitt's comfy with much more than just the slinky blues-rock for which she's best known. Tuesday's show offered a variety of styles, including the upbeat shuffle of Los Lobos' "Shakin' Shakin' Shakes," the Afro-pop gospel of "Hear Me Lord" and the country soul of "Undone," a track written by Texan chanteuse Bonnie Bishop.
Raitt had an easy, organic connection with her audience between songs. She frequently hipped them to the writers and inspirations behind her material.
She commended the audience's "mighty Texas fortitude" for showing up under the threat of extreme weather, and also gave plenty of nods to the band members behind her and the crew members handling lights and sound in the venue.
Keyboardist and vocalist Mike Finnigan, celebrating his birthday at the show, shined throughout when blending vocals with Raitt or offering his own inspired solo to give her a short break.
They invited out other special guests: Two members of opening act the California Honeydrops contributed jazzy horns to a searing rendition of "Women Be Wise," while Fort Worth singer-songwriter and past Raitt collaborator Glen Clark came out to play harmonica on "Good Man, Good Woman."
Beautiful as all those collaborations were on Tuesday, the most stirring moment came courtesy of Raitt and her acoustic guitar. She's performed John Prine's "Angel From Montgomery" throughout her entire career, but we've never heard her do it with more passion or wistfulness.
We've rarely seen a crowd rise to its feet so quickly after a song ended.