Review: Etheridge honors Elvis in one-nighter
REVIEW BY JOHN BERGER / email@example.com
Melissa Etheridge singing Elvis? Yes, and she did it well last night, including the lyric hook of Elvis’ 1969 hit, “Suspicious Minds,” in several songs while she entertained an enthusiastic crowd of hardcore fans for more than two hours in the Blaisdell Concert Hall. There was no intermission.
As with Etheridge’s unforgettable 2008 Blaisdell Concert Hall show four years ago, cameras and cameraphones were in widespread use throughout the evening. One man with a large camera positioned down front-and-center was on his feet for almost the entire show blocking the view of the fans behind him. Many others documented their favorite moments in the show, or Etheridge’s performance of their favorite song, with their smart phones. Bootleg video clips could easily be up on YouTube before Etheridge and her musicians — Brent Simons (bass), Blair Sinta (drums) and Peter Thorn (guitar) — play the final show in the current “Fearless Love World Tour” tonight on Maui.
But about “Suspicious Minds,” Etheridge told the crowd that growing up in Kansas “Elvis was cool,” and thanks to the movies he made here she always associated him with Hawaii. The phrase “We’re caught in a trap / I can’t walk out” was added to several songs, and a longer version of “Hound Dog” popped up as value-added content to her powerful rendition of “Nervous.”
Between the show opener, “Fearless Love,” and the encore performance of “Like The Way I Do,” Etheridge played a good cross-section of her discography that included all the “must do” hits. “I Want To Come Over,” “I Run For Life,” and “Bring Me Some Water” — all of them almost obligatory choices for Etheridge concerts — lived up to expectations as high-powered highlight numbers. A couple of songs became spontaneous sing-alongs.
Every one cheered when Etheridge announced “I’m 51 — (being) 50 rocks! You finally get really good at something,” and then rocked the house with “Lucky.”
There were cheers again when she introduced “I Run For Life” with the announcement that “I am happy. I am healthy. I am eight years cancer free.”
“Falling Up,” the first single off her upcoming album, “4th Street Feeling,” got a warm welcome as well.
Fans understand that artists on tour tend to follow a basic script and set list wherever they happen to be playing but Etheridge personalized the show last night. It’s unlikely she talks about the multiple meanings of the word “aloha” when she plays Cleveland or Chicago or LA — and she really seemed delighted by the fragrance of the lei someone had given her. She also said that Hawaii is “My number one place (to come) when I’m not working.” Proof of that could be seen in the fact that the tour ends with the tonight’s show on Maui.
Etheridge praised her musicians (“I love my band”) and they earned the accolade as a unit and as charismatic soloists. They capped the show with an extended version of “Like The Way I Do” during which Etheridge jammed with Simons, climbed up on the drum riser and joined Sinta on drums for a percussion duet, and then went over to Thorn’s side of the stage and reached around from behind him to add her hands to his in playing his guitar four-handed. All going well some enterprising fan will have bootleg footage of that up on YouTube before long — or, better still, Etheridge will release a professionally produced concert video.
Fans down front certainly got their money’s worth as Etheridge spent a good deal time at the front of the stage and worked both wings. She stopped moving several times to pose for individual fan-photographers and let several fans play percussion on her guitar near the end of the show. It was in all ways a great evening.
Anyone seeing Etheridge for the first time would have left impressed.
The year 2012 has five months more to run but Etheridge’s show in the Concert Hall last night will certainly stand as one of the year’s best concerts here. She performs again tonight on Maui at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center; call 242-7469 or visit www.mauiarts.org for more info.
John Berger has been a mainstay in the local entertainment scene for nearly 40 years. Contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.