Bonnie Raitt: 'Let's put another crack in the Liberty Bell'

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Bonnie Raitt sold out the Kimmel Center Friday. SUSAN J. WEIAND / FOR THE INQUIRER

Bonnie Raitt entered the Kimmel Center's Verizon Hall on Friday with a comment about the lovely spring night in Philadelphia and the season's propensity for "raging hormones" - and then the country blues-rock legend raged through a wonderfully alluring two-hour set of songs old and new.

Raitt started the party with her sizzling cover of INXS's "Need You Tonight," which appears on the 66-year-old's fantastic new studio album, Dig in Deep, her 19th. The set consisted of several tunes from the new release, which she called "new chestnuts" - including the lovelorn and gentle "Undone," and the fist-pumping and twangy "Gypsy in Me."

Raitt and her tight four-piece band also dug in deep to the 10-time Grammy-winning artist's voluminous discography.

Yes, she broke out the hits. Ecstatic fans danced in the aisles to the infinitely fun "Something to Talk About," and Raitt strutted the stage and straddled her Fender Strat during "Love Sneakin' Up on You." She also resurrected some deep tracks, such as the drunken-birthday barroom sing-along, "Your Sweet and Shiny Eyes" from 1975's Home Plate.

The show was sold out and Raitt made it feel like a cozy homecoming. (She briefly lived in Philly on a break during her undergrad years at Radcliffe.)

She gave a shout-out to a high school friend in attendance, as well as local jewelry maker J. Rudy Lewis, who crafted the ring she wears on the Dig in Deep cover. She mentioned late Philly soul guitarist T.J. Tindall, and revealed she hung out Thursday night at the Tin Angel. At one point, she was rocking so hard she shouted, "Let's put another crack in the Liberty Bell!"

Raitt is an amazing performer. Her slide guitar-playing is economical, but full of emotion. Her voice is so pure and transcendent - to hear her sing is to feel the sound of the past, present, and future simultaneously. When Raitt began the three-song encore with her 1991 hit, "I Can't Make You Love Me," it truly was transporting.

Here's something to talk about: Raitt returns to Philly to play the Mann Center on Aug. 26.

Let's hope the Liberty Bell can handle one more crack.