November 30, 2012

The Time I Went To See Melissa E // Music

Ah. Lucky me! I got to stroll through the doors of The Chicago Theatre a few weeks ago. For what? CAUSE I WAS HOLDIN' TICKETS TO MELISSA ETHERIDGE, BABY! My parents have seen her a handful of times, my mom is a huge fan, and her first four albums were constantly played during my upbringing. Like Talking Heads and so many others, Melissa Etheridge found a cozy little place in my musical soul making her a bucket list artist; someone I had to see in my time. When I first found out she was coming here sometime in the late summer for a November show, I told my ma all about it and sent her all the fancy pre-sale ordering e-mails XRT was sending out and hoped she would come through in making that our show for this year, especially since we couldn't make it to David Byrne/St. Vincent together. She pulled through and we put it in our plans.

Of course, we started off this concert experience just like we would any other; dinner at Greek Islands beforehand, one of our favorite restaurants. 

saganaki, an obvious choice.
So since my mom is a seasoned Melissa E show go-er, she clued me in on exactly what I should expect as we listened to a CD I had made specifically for the drive there that was chocked full of Melissa Etheridge, Florence, Talking Heads/David Byrne- our usual lineup. The general sum-up was "You're never gonna see any other woman rock like Melissa does", that, and of course, she told me about the guitars. She told me all about how she does all these guitar changes and how she uses a different guitar for each song. I knew she would rock, there was no doubt in my mind, which is why there was no problem with me being so adamant about going in the first place. Let's be honest, this was my mom's 5th Melissa show, and while she loves seeing her live, she just wasn't super amped on it until we were in the car on the way there belting out 'Like The Way I Do'. That's okay, the excitement eventually found her and after dinner, we cabbed over to the theatre where the excitement then consumed us. My tradition for every show there is that when I get into the actual main floor entrance, I just walk all the way to the front of the stage for some time to check out the set close-up, make nice with the guards up there, and get a good look at the crowd. I feel some sort of bizarre attachment to that theatre that makes me feel like I should somehow buy it, manage it, and love it forever [or maybe just get a job sticking the letters on the marquee?].


yay! Set close-up
The set to this particular show was intricate as ever; lava lamps, rugs, tons of amps, decor, and of course a drum from Leavenworth Junior High- her hometown. When I was done with my scope-out routine, we attempted to actually find our seats, and they were good ones in the center section; Row B, seat 406/408. We got an even bigger slice of lucky when two women two rows in front of us turned to ask us if we wanted to switch seats with them, and they had the aisle seats. That's a delicious two-fer and we took it. They were a group of friends who had bought tickets separately, yet managed to gain compliance with awesome attendees in order to switch it up so they could sit together. How awesome.

My ma and I in front of the stage before the show!

Here's the showdown! 

 She came on stage with such a bewitching spirit that night; looking around, moving easily to the beat. She was extremely chatty with the crowd as she led us along in the passenger seat of her Chevrolet. She drew so many influences from her upbringing and raw roots with this album. Her attentiveness with the crowd could have almost been mistaken for a typical blues show where the artists mutters through a collection of thoughts while the notes take their words and string them to a melody. This album was a lot slower paced and focused heavily on it, rightfully so since this tour is titled after her latest album; 4th Street Feeling. She threw a lot of her old jams in there which was my main highlight along with some of the awesome life advice she threw out in between songs and some of it couldn't have come at a better time. I was a tad shocked there wasn't a bit more from her Fearless Love album, just a song, but after 12 albums, not including her Christmas album and greatest hits, I guess it becomes rather difficult to cut it down to even just 20 songs. What it boils down to is that I just wanted to see Melissa Etheridge in concert. It wasn't about loving every song on her latest albums, it was about experiencing an artist live I've thoroughly enjoyed my whole life and see her with the person who was responsible for that. Melissa looked great and sounded great. She mixed up the songs really nicely too. One minute you were rocking out and the next you'd be swaying along somewhere in the crowd. The lights she used were fantastic as well. A lot of variation, which was great and sort of gives it the feeling you're getting that much more out of the show. I felt really lucky to be seeing her perform live, especially within the walls of The Chicago Theatre. We were around such an awesome group of people, too, many of which had attended shows in the past. An awesome crowd? That always seals the deal on a concert. 

MELISSA ROCKED OUT ON DRUMS! She just got up along side her drummer and laid down an awesome little set. This was absolutely awesome. She played the harmonica as well as strummed a billion chords on numerous different guitars and even played some of them whilst laying on her back sprawled across the stage. Definitely an experience. To have it end with 'Like The Way I Do' was just absolutely stellar, she rocked the house, and I'm pretty sure I rocked my body to the core. Of course, like the end of every show ever, I make my way up to the front of the stage in attempts to get a glorious setlist! ACCOMPLISHED! [and I never thought I would at this one].

The fantabulous 20 song setlist!

The breakdown process! This is always incredibly fascinating to me just HOW fast they
break it all down and pop it into a truck for the next show. The crew for her show was exceptionally
friendly. I was really shocked I walked away with a few souvineers from this one!

Afterward, my mom and I were buzzing, but she kept emphasizing how much she has really mellowed out.
She is still incredibly captivating, but she said that no one EVER sat at her shows and during a few songs on this latest tour, there were a few sitters. It didn't get me down. It was almost intriguing to see her in the in-between phase of being able to really impress while calming down and turning over a new page in terms of performance. At the end of it all, I got exactly what I wanted- seeing yet another bucket-list artist at The Chicago Theatre. It's just too exquisite. Here's to the next one.

If you like Melissa Etheridge, you might dig this other artist I thoroughly enjoy; Lissie who reminds me of a younger version of Melissa E. I had the chance to see her live at Reggie's a couple years ago and luckily got to meet her and of course, I wrote all about it.

Any shows you plan on attending soon?

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