Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne Get A Little Help From Their Friends

All-star singer/songwriter lineup finds them backing each other along with Bruce Hornsby and Shawn Colvin.

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

excerpt).

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

accordion.

"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."