Every Thursday, we dig through the Paste Cloud archives to revisit some of our favorite old concert videos and audio. This week, we’ve got material from Bonnie Raitt, Ron Wood & Bo Diddley and John Lee Hooker.
Bonnie Raitt: Live at The Henry J. Kaiser Auditorium, 1989
One of many great pioneers who oversaw the creation of the Americana/alt-country genre, Bonnie Raitt is one of traditional American music’s great treasures. This performance, from November 26th, 1989 at the Henry J. Kaiser Auditorium in Oakland, CA, shows Raitt at a time period when this type of music was thriving. Americana was enjoying a bit of a renaissance, with Uncle Tupelo on the verge of releasing their debut album. In the next few years, acts like The Bottle Rockets, Blue Mountain and Whiskeytown would be formed and create a new sub-genre of country-rock music. Raitt, however, was a veteran of this hybrid genre, and this performance feels fluent without being too glib.
Kicking things off with “About to Make Me Leave Home,” Raitt and her fantastic band quickly put the show into high gear by following this with a NRBQ cover, “Green Lights.” Many of Bonnie Raitt’s bigger tunes were also performed including “Nick of Time,” (the title track of the album she was touring for at the time) “Love Letter” and “Have A Heart.” The show concludes with “Willya Wontcha” a number off of Bonnie Raitt’s 1982 LP Green Lights.
Raitt continues to be a huge influence on her genre; she earned a nomination for “Artist of The Year” at the 2016 Americana Music Awards. In addition, her recently released album Dig In Deep received acclaim from critics across the board. Hopefully the future still has much in store for Raitt, who is still one of the great songwriters and vocalists in Americana music. —Ben Rosner
Ron Wood & Bo Diddley: Live At The Ritz, 1987
Bo Diddley is one of the forefathers of blues music and is considered to be one of the great guitarists of all time. In this show on November 20, 1987 from The Ritz in New York, NY, he pairs his genius with Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood to take the audience to a descent deep into the waters of blues-rock. The show gets to a rousing start with Bo Diddley on “Road Runner” with his signature box guitar uttering the high pitched licks that fans of ‘60s rock crave so heavily. After this, the band goes right into “Come On Everybody, Let’s Rock & Roll” before Diddley invites Wood to come on stage and join him for the rest of the set.
The concert then starts to hits a climactic high during the shrill “Diddley Daddey,” “Crackin’ Up” and “I’m a Man.” The performances of those three tunes are the true meat and potatoes of this show. Wood and Diddley’s playing through this portion of the show is exuberant and intense. The set then concludes with “Moma.” At this point, the audience truly loves each and every chord that the two leading musicians strike on their instruments before the show ends. Sadly, Bo Diddley passed in 2008, but this show is an excellent way to remember one of the acmes of The Originator’s long career. —Ben Rosner
John Lee Hooker: Live at The Shoreline Amphitheatre, 1992
“We ain’t playing no boogie, we ain’t playing no rock ‘n’ roll, we’re playing the blues,” John Lee Hooker said reassuringly to the California crowd before him in October 1992. “Just playing the blues, telling it like it is,” which is the only way a blues legend like Hooker can tell a story.
Eighty years old at the time of this particular concert, Hooker’s fingers were just as nimble as when he developed his signature electric version of Delta Blues. Growing up in a religious household, church hymns were his first and only experience with music in his early life. Though obviously dressed in his Sunday best for the occasion, Hooker preached an entirely different gospel. His first song “Lonely Man” played out heavy and steady as Hooker’s aged warbling took to the side to the let the sleek guitars shine.
John Lee Hooker’s gravelly voice has aged gracefully over the years, instilling a richer sense of honesty and passion to his dense blues aesthetic. But as with any good blues musician, the stories are told through the music, not the lyrics. After almost a century in the music industry, Hooker’s guitar has become an extra limb on his person, and he uses it as his main storyteller. Even in his short four-song set, Hooker divulged decades worth of stories, emotions and loneliness almost solely through his singular guitar work. —Kurt Suchman