LIVE: Melissa Etheridge @ The Egg, 09/02/2021

American folk-rock singer Melissa Etheridge returned to Albany to perform at The Egg on September 2nd to a sold out show of mask-wearing fans. The multi-talented Etheridge performed songs that spanned her career, filling the venue with the hope infused music from the 1980s to the present.

The stage was set for Etheridge and her band at 8 pm; washed in purple and red light, the room was filled with anticipation. The band members came out first, followed quickly by Etheridge. At 60, Etheridge continues to smile a youthful grin, playing her guitar to each corner of the stage and leaning into the crowd. Her fans went wild as she confidently positioned herself in the front of the band, poised to sing “No Souvenirs.” Her smokey, sexy voice is unchanged after all these years, transcending time and steeped in sexual desire.

Photo by Jim Gilbert

Etheridge is a reminder that confidence is sexy. Standing with her legs apart, guitar on her belly, she owns herself. “I missed you so much, Albany. Finally! A year late, but I’m here,” she purred before launching into “Similar Features.”

Unlike the lyrics to the song, there is no way anyone can replace Etheridge. With her messages about releasing stress, embracing kindness, and lifting others up, Etheridge is a social justice warrior whose fan base has consistently adored her since her first release in 1982. With “Ain’t It Heavy,” Etheridge also reminded folks that she can rock, and rock hard.

Etheridge was playing with a full band at The Egg, and the sound was a far cry from her one woman show the last time she performed here. Her performance was drenched in desire like only the sixty-year-old Etheridge can pull off. “I’ve Loved You Before,” a ballad from 2007, brought the room to a silent hush.

Knowing her audience, she welcomed fans to “Come with me to the land of the 90s!” before grabbing her baby blue electric guitar for “I Want To Come Over.” She whispered insights as she opened this song about wanting someone despite consequences. “I was older when I wrote this, but I was still making poor choices. Poor choices make up the first quarter of our life,” she pondered before launching into the crowd favorite.

Etheridge is a powerhouse in her guitar playing, and the set showed this remarkably well. She clearly loves the instrument, spotlighting her powerful musicianship through “Mercy” and “Giant.” Her ability to fuse blues and rock, playing harmonica between vocals, reaffirmed she is a musician through and through. She was able to somehow sing words, play that harmonica and guitar and also make eye contact with the crowd that made everyone feel welcome and even safe.

Because she is a social activist, as mentioned earlier, and many in the crowd were seen and heard by her through her music. “Giant” was a powerhouse of a song, calling out the system that tried to hold down people, screaming “You didn’t count on me” as a response. The song raised goosebumps and spirits that humans can overcome whatever we set our minds to overcome.

And Etheridge has overcome a lot in her life. She came out to a rather closed and homophobic community as a lesbian in 1993. She suffered and overcame breast cancer. And most recently, she lost her 21-year-old son to an opioid overdose during the pandemic. She’s a survivor through and through, using music to heal not only herself but for others as she goes about in the world.

Etheridge announced she is releasing a new album on September 17th titled, “One Way Out.” The songs on it are older ones she wrote but were never previously released. “Some of the songs were about how miserable I was. I couldn’t share that then, but I can sing about it now,” she laughed. Etheridge revisited her songs during the pandemic, rediscovering old lyrics and powerful chords, and desired to share them out.

Etheridge was accompanied by Max Hart on keys and guitar, David Santos on bass, and Eric Gardner on the drum kit. The band repeatedly helped to create a raw sound imbued with strength only a group can produce. During “Bring Me Some Water,” the band helped to build and release the energy built into the lyrics about longing for what was once ours and is now lost.

Etheridge took her traditional selfie with the crowd, and reminded listeners to “Choose love – it’s a choice every single day… and take care of what’s inside,” pointing to her head. She finished with “I’m the Only One,” directing us to look in the mirror and say the words if we need reminding.

Encore was “Like the Way I Do,” and indeed, Etheridge’s words were true: no one can rock us like the way she does.

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