PORTLAND — Living legend Bonnie Raitt released her 19th album, “Slipstream,” last month, and her tour brought her to Merrill Auditorium for a sold-out performance Thursday night.

Surrounded by keys player Mike Finnigan, drummer Ricky Fataar, bass player James Hutchinson and guitarist George Marinelli, Raitt was sensational.

At 62, Raitt is still a house on fire when it comes to singing and playing.

She made a believer out of first-timers and satiated the musical cravings of all the multiple Raitt show veterans in the audience.

“Used to Rule the World” from “Slipstream” started the show off and set the tone for what was to be a dazzling display of vocals and musicianship from a true class act.

The song asks “Can I get a Witness,” and rest assured, Raitt got a house full of them, all of us ready to embrace whatever she was gonna throw at us from her four-decade career.

Raitt and the band gave a reggae treatment to Gerry Rafferty’s “Right Down the Line,” then she spoke cheerfully about a day spent eating lobsters and riding bicycles in Portland.

The “Slipstream” album is home to two Bob Dylan covers, including “Million Miles,” during which Raitt played an acoustic guitar and shined vocally despite some allergies.

Next came “You Can’t Fail Me Now,” a tune penned by Joe Henry and Loudon Wainwright that Raitt also put her “Slipstream” stamp on. Raitt dialed back the clock 23 years to revisit the album that finally got her long-deserved credit, “Nick of Time.”

“Love Sneaking Up On You” was a firecracker of a song, as was “Have a Heart,” which came a bit later in the show, with overwhelming audience appreciation.

Speaking of “Nick of Time,” it was mastered at Gateway Studios in Portland, and Raitt gave Bob Ludwig an enthusiastic shout-out, to much applause.

It wouldn’t be a Bonnie Raitt concert without one of her touchstone songs, John Prine’s “Angel From Montgomery,” and it brought the house to its feet with an immediate standing ovation. The song is as timeless as Raitt herself.

Raitt’s keyboard player Finnigan is an old bluesman.

He took lead vocals – and terrific ones at that – on “I Got News For You,” and while he was singing his heart out, Raitt was right there with her dazzling slide guitar.

The band stuck with old blues with the John Cleary song “I Feel so Damn Good (I’ll be Glad when I Got the Blues).”

All good things must come to and end, but Bonnie Raitt took the sting out with a seated delivery of not only one of “Nick of Time’s” finest moments, but one of the most revered heartbreakers in modern song history, “I Can’t Make You Love Me.”

The show ended with Marc Cohn’s return to the stage when he joined Raitt for Van Morrison’s “Crazy Love.”

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention what a superb set Cohn delivered to open the show.

With a full-bodied, soulful set of pipes, “Listening to Levon” was outstanding, Paul Simon’s “Only Living Boy in New York” was quite touching and, yes, all these years later Cohn’s smash hit “Walking in Memphis” still holds up.

Staff Writer Aimsel Ponti can be contacted at 791-6455 or at:

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