Event: Melissa Etheridge
Date: Aug 7 2021
Venue: Sandy Amphitheater, Sandy UT
Tour: One Way Out
Like many of you (any of you) I have been aching to get back to concerts. The last “normal” thing I did before lock-down was shooting a show in a tiny hole in the wall venue and not knowing it was going to be a long time until I would be able to have a live music experience again. Looking back, I feel like I should have seen so many more performances when I had the chance as it was a long drought of concerts. Finally, I drank from that wonderful fountain of live music this past Saturday night. It was powerful and moving, and in so many ways unforgettable.
When I saw a verified date for Melissa Etheridge performing in Sandy, Utah, I knew we were semi-back to normal. As tour dates have begun to pop up and get closer and closer, this was the first one I could line up, and let me tell you, Melissa Etheridge in concert, is a great way to make up for lost time.
Melissa Etheridge is a guitar rock …. never mind you ALL KNOW WHO SHE IS. I was introduced to her driving to a U2 concert in 1992, by a buddy who is 6’4″ and weighs 320 LBS, and calls himself a “Gay Redneck”. So, for me, Melissa Etheridge has always been synonymous with the community.
Having heard and collected triple-digit bootlegs, I already knew what I was in for. She had sold out every gig I tried to attend, and I was LUCKY enough to make it into this one. If you can score a ticket, you need to grab it, they won’t be available very long.
The venue, which is literally a few blocks from where I lived going to high school, just seemed the perfect and out of place venue for a Melissa Etheridge gig. The venue was stacked, I couldn’t see past the top of the seats to see how many people were on the lawn, but, it seemed people were socially distanced as best as could be and wearing masks. You saw the spectrum of people there, from shaven-headed lesbians, gay men galore, guys in country-western outfits with rainbow cowboy hats, to people who are clearly devout Mormons. All were welcome, and anticipation was high.
Out of nowhere, we just heard guitar, real guitar playing, and Melissa herself casually walked onto the stage, in a Batman T-shirt, and purple flannel, just singing away and welcomed everyone out to her show. She talked about this being the first gig of the tour and the first in almost 2 years. She talked about the online shows, “Myself, space, and two cameras. Thank you all for watching etheridgeTV.” She said, “I’m going to give you all a great show tonight”. Then gave us the words we all needed to hear; “Let’s all be kind, it’s all about feeling that again”. It seemed more fitting now than ever.
With her harmonica stand on her chest like Bob Dylan, she let us have it with “One Way Out.”
She looked relieved and ecstatic to be playing live again. She cranked out 3 songs on her electric, then got out the 12 string (oh dear lord, bless us all) and held nothing back. She sounded a bit unsteady for the first couple of songs, like, well, she hadn’t done something like this for 2 years and had to get back into feeling it. By the 3rd song, it was like she hadn’t missed a moment, and she was giving us the same energy and feeling from her previous 30+ years of performing. Suddenly, we were all back and Melissa could not stop smiling, you actually saw the joy in her face as she gave the love to all of us. They then played “You’re Little Secret”, in itself is funny because she often says “I have no secrets.”
Now, with someone like Melissa Etheridge, she has a catalogue of 14 albums. She talked about it, and how if she was going to fire up a new tour, what would she play on the first night, especially after what we have all just been through. “I have spent a month on this set list.” She talked about her first couple albums released on cassette and then re-released digitally, and thus, she sold 6k copies to 2k of us. Then she said “Tonight’s ballad should be worth it”, and she played “Talking To My Angel”, I just sat down, and let it work it’s magic.
She said she is going to spotlight an album, and play a few songs from them, how she thought about each album over the last two years, and that she usually didn’t play these songs. She played “Late September Dogs (Come On Let It Rain), and “Occasionally.”
Every note on her guitar was clear and stood out. As she whispered her lyrics, I noticed the sound of the drums shaking through me, something I had not heard in 18 months, I cried just realizing how good it was to feel it again. She finished it off by turning her guitar over and slapping the back of it while the audience swayed along with it.
By the time she got to “I Want To Come Over”, it was a full venue singalong. We all tried to stay in the same key and got hoarse trying to even keep up, but it didn’t really matter, we were just all having the shared moment. When we got to the final chorus she and sang “Lover don’t speak, Let me in”, she stood there with her guitar in the air, posing as if she were Jimmy Hendrix, for about 15 seconds everyone cheered, then she brought it down and sang the last line “I WANT TO COME OVER” to roars. She was feeding off of us, as much as we were what she was giving us.
She moved on to some “new” old songs, the ones she never put on an album because when she wrote them, things were different back then. Most of them are on her new album “The Medicine Show” that she made sure we knew “Comes out on September 17th, wherever you internet your music”. She said, “I wrote most of these songs in 2016, and I thought 2016 was the WEIRDEST YEAR EVER.. What did I know right?”
After some new songs, and some banter she said “Now, I want you all to repeat after me, I – AM – THE – ONLY – ONE”, and the familiar songs we all knew from years past, the ones we never would forgive her for leaving out of a set.
For an encore she played “Like The Way I Do”, which went on for quite a long time. After giving her guitar to a roadie, she went and got on the drum kit, picked up a couple sticks, and started playing. WITH HER DRUMMER STILL THERE. They played the same drumkit off each other for a few minutes, and the band just kept going. She then went back up front, the roadie handed her guitar back to her, and finished the song.
She talked about how much she missed playing with the band, how much she missed us all, and that she now plans to tour for the rest of her life.
Opening night of any tour is something special, but this one let us all know what we have taken for granted for so long. Melissa Etheridge can knock your socks off anytime she takes the stage. This tour is called “One Way Out”, even if you don’t know her whole catalogue (really?) you need to see this. If you can score a ticket, it will be worth it to go, everyone will be socially distanced, and the show will remind you and take you back to a world we all once knew, if only for a few hours.