HOLMDEL, N.J. Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne, Bruce Hornsby
and Shawn Colvin made for a new kind of supergroup Tuesday night at the
PNC Bank Arts Center.
The four acclaimed singer/songwriters haven't gone into business together
under a new name, but they shared a stage and backed each other during
a nearly three-hour set in which they revolved in and out of the spotlight.
"We did this [tour] just so we could sing with each other," the 49-year-old
Raitt told a crowd composed largely of baby boomers and their young
children. "We are really glad you came to our little party."
The New Jersey show was the fourth stop on a U.S. tour scheduled to
continue through Sept. 25.
Raitt opened the show with "Thing Called Love," from her 1989 breakthrough
album, Nick of Time, but the stars quickly made it clear they were
not planning on doing individual sets. Hornsby accompanied Raitt on
accordion and backing vocals, Browne played guitar, and Colvin sang,
danced and strummed an acoustic guitar.
The quartet, backed by four supplementary musicians including longtime
Browne cohort David Lindley on slide guitar and violin who played
a separate warm-up set left each other for only brief
intervals all evening.
Clad in a black jacket and red shirt, Raitt sang with Browne on the
chorus of his 1982 hit "Somebody's Baby," as the 50-year-old
denim-sporting soft-rock troubadour grinned from ear to ear and got some
fans dancing in their seats.
Though Browne looked slightly uncomfortable backing his partners, Raitt
looked right at home harmonizing cross-legged on the equipment risers.
Colvin, the youngest and least experienced of the performers at 41,
seemed to relish being onstage with them as she shimmied like a go-go
dancer and hugged her co-stars frequently.
"I'm just gonna kiss butt all night long," Colvin told the audience. "I
cannot rock. I am the anti-rock."
Dressed in a sleeveless red shirt and black skirt, Colvin soothingly
delivered her Grammy-winning hit "Sunny Came Home" (RealAudio
excerpt) and other tunes from her 1996 album A Few Small
Repairs, including "Wichita Skyline" and "You and the Mona Lisa."
Though she was in fine voice, the applause for her paled in comparison
to that enjoyed by the others.
Hornsby, 44, who played piano for the bulk of the night, drew cheers for
staples such as "Valley Road" (RealAudio
excerpt) and his 1986 chart-topper "The Way It Is." He even
received a healthy ovation for lesser-known jazzy tunes, such as "King
of the Hill" from last year's Spirit Trail, during which he
showcased his piano skills, moving Colvin and Raitt to square dance.
"Whoever had the idea of having all of them play together was a genius,"
Jeanine McDermid, 28, of Summit, N.J., said. "It was fun because it made
you guess what would come next. It was very spontaneous."
Most fans seemed to have come out for Browne and Raitt. Browne drew a
partial standing ovation for the title track (RealAudio
excerpt) to his 1976 LP The Pretender, which is considered
a singer/songwriter classic. The crowd roared at the line "And then we'll
put our dark glasses on and we'll make love until our strength is gone."
Browne also offered the hardest-rocking song of the evening with the
title cut to the album that came next, 1977's Running on Empty.
Colvin ran in place throughout that one.
Multiple Grammy winner Raitt garnered a similar response for a heartfelt
version of "Nick of Time" and her 1991 hit "Something to Talk About,"
which had fans bouncing in their seats. The audience grew hushed when
Raitt played the sad ballad "I Can't Make You Love Me" (RealAudio
The highlight of the half-hour encore set was a pianoless take on Don
Henley's 1989 hit "The End of the Innocence," which Hornsby co-wrote.
All the musicians came to the front of the stage, led by Hornsby on
"We'd like to help Don Henley collect some more ASCAP royalty checks,"
Hornsby said. "But it's OK, because I wrote the song, too."