From the Times Union Albany NY
Special to The Times Union
Photo by Nanci 2008 Meadowbrook Music Gilford NH
ALBANY – Melissa Etheridge was in a giving mood Wednesday night.
The 49-year-old singer was opening her “Fearless Love” tour at The Palace Theater, and she rolled out songs old and new for over two and a half hours to a wildly enthusiastic crowd of dedicated fans.
For those not in the latter camp, Etheridge’s shows have become something of an endurance test. Truth be told, she hasn’t grown much as an artist over the years and her simplistic anthems can wear when delivered in bulk.
For proof that she mines the same vein over and over, how about these three tunes — “I Want To Come Over,” “Come To My Window” and “Heaven on Earth,” with its “come find me” chorus.
A new song sung on Wednesday was similarly redundant. When Bob Dylan divorced Sara Lowndes he came up with “Blood On The Tracks; when Etheridge split with her wife earlier this year, she came up with “Company” — “all I want is company, someone to understand this misery.”
That’s a 15-year-old’s diary entry, not a middle aged woman’s deepest thoughts.
Still, highlights for fans were plentiful. All of the above rocked, as did other new numbers like “Miss California,” “We Are The Ones” and “Nervous.”
The show began with a very curious sort of voodoo riff that found images of snakes on a screen while shamanic dancers moved murkily throughout the hall. Then, all of the sudden, Etheridge was in the crowd, chanting like a preacher as she moved down the aisle to the stage.
It was a very Bono moment.
What at all it had to do with the rest of the show was anyone’s guess.
The best stretch of the show came two-thirds in when Etheridge actually deigned to tell a tale rather than simply sing a hooky chorus over and over again.
“Indiana” was something of a masterpiece, and if she could make more of these she’d be in league with Bruce Springsteen rather than aping him.
The song had a melodic and lyrical arc and Etheridge rode the dynamics instead of pushing them.
It was beautiful, and so was the follow-up, the cancer survivor’s creed, “I Run For Life.”
After that it was back to business, with an expected brace of overwrought concert staples.
“I’m The Only One” started the build-up and “Bring Me Some Water” and “Like The Way I Do” beat it to death.
She’s gotten a lot of mileage out of ”Water” and she makes sure she gets more out of it every night she plays. Wow, or whew, depending on your perspective.
One thing that no one could argue about is that Etheridge was genuinely elated to be back onstage and spending time with her fans. Her between song banter was chummy and nonchalant and when she shook hands with fans during her encore it was clear she was sharing the love.
And that can’t be a bad thing.
When: 8 p.m. Wednesday
Where: Palace Theatre, 19 Clinton Avenue, Albany
Length: 2 hours, 40 minutes
Highlights: “Indiana” — write more like that one, Melissa.
The Crowd: Over 2,000 adoring fans.
More Photos by Nanci photos of Melissa