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Melissa Etheridge – July 9, 2010 – Cape Cod Melody Tent

Melissa Etheridge is a great rock and roller and a charming and incredible performer.  I saw her in Hyannis at her gig at the Cape Cod Melody Tent last week and the show was both fun and satisfying, like a great dance party with friends.

This was the second date of her current US tour, which continues till September, and she was upbeat, inspired and happy.  Despite the sad news about her break-up, I think she has a great deal to be happy about.

First of all, her new record, Fearless, is excellent.  Fantastic music and bears repeated listening.  In a career filled with great songs, this one has some classics.

My favorites start with Miss California — yes, Carrie Prejean, and her views on same-old-sex marriage?  Melissa has a conversation with her in the song that manages to acknowledge Miss C’s discomfort while not disowning any of Miss E’s own pride.  “Don’t you know what’s good for me can be good for you?” she asks. “Don’t you know what’s good for you can be good for me too?”

I love this song musically and politically.  At the end of it, melissa smartly observes the symbiotic relationship between colonizer and colonized (although I doubt she would ever call it that) when she wrily says, “The hand that’s trying to hold me down is the one that I’m trying to hold/The hand that’s trying to force me back /Is the one that won’t let me go.”   In that verse she manages to elevate the song to a universal comment on destructive attachments.  It’s worth a lit crit essay, you queer theorists.

Another favorite song is Nervous. With a timeless bluesy rock and roll riff, it’s a song that has gorgeous turns and movement.  Live, Melissa played a wah-wah inflected solo.  It made me wish she took more solos — why leave it to the guys — she has the chops and real soul! The song crescendoes and makes you just scream along.

Other faves:  We Are The Ones which is a stadium anthem that we are going to hear sports fans sing for years to come; Indiana – a classic story of  a small town girl who makes it (do we know her?); and Drag Me Away — which is now my new theme song!

Second, Melissa is touring with an entirely new band – four guys that are a lot of fun to watch and are just enjoying the experience of playing on their first tour together.  That freshness made me realize that as much as I had liked her old band mates, they were giving stale performances.  These guys gave the old songs real energy — (I’ve never heard Come to My Window sound like a funk song before — but the new bass player was funky).

Finally, I hope Melissa is happy because she is healthy, has four beautiful kids and a set of friends (and fans) who love her ideas and love who she is as a human being.  I brought along two friends to the show who had never seen her before.  They were astounded at how long she played (nearly three hours) and the joyful energy she brought to every song.

Melissa Etheridge is the real deal!  Go see her and buy the record!

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