Melissa Etheridge’s current tour is a solo affair with only her, nine guitars, a grand piano, a tiny percussion setup, and some digital looping trickery. This woman can sing like nobody’s business. She has a fantastic voice and doesn’t seem to ever miss a note. Her guitar work is right up there with the best of the best, too.
She started her show from off stage playing her 12-string guitar and walking on from the shadows with a big smile to the cheers of her fans. After this song she thanked everybody for coming out, saying it had been a long times since she had played Reno. She explained that the show was 100% live.
‘there’s a little bit of magic involved’
Everything we would hear would be created on stage. She then gestured toward her percussion setup which included a beautiful Djembe, a Cajon, and a tambourine, saying, ‘there’s a little bit of magic involved’. On the floor she had a large selection of effects pedals and gadgets to help with the magic as do almost all guitarists.
Recently many musicians are using looping technology to fill and enhance their songs. She started her second song by looping a two bar drum pattern on the Djembe and overlaying that with loops of tambourine and Cajon creating a ‘percussion section’ to support and play along with her. Then she picks up one of her nine guitars and starts playing and singing over the top of the loop. It was very nice and well done.
The problem was that this was how every single song went. With the exception of minor modifications on the looping, every song had the same looped patterns and they all started the same. I got board. If this was the magic, it was the same trick over and over again. This would have been fine as a respite in the middle of a show that included a full band, but it was not enough fill an entire evening or a theater as large as The Grand Theatre. To me the magic is in the interplay between the musicians on stage. It’s that unspoken communication that yields breathtaking moments of creative excellence.
There was much lacking in this show. I feel bad that I can’t share a wonderful review of a performance that I had high hopes for. The theater appeared to be only a little more than half full. There was plenty of cheering at the beginning and ending of each song, but there wasn’t much movement in the crowd during the songs. You know –dancing, jumping up and down, and waving of arms – that kind of movement.
this is only my opinion
Let me just say that this is only my opinion. If any of you reading this were in attendance and you absolutely loved the show, that’s as valid an opinion as mine. It just didn’t work for me. If she comes back around with a full band, I will definitely go. I would like to see the difference. If there was a big ‘wow’ moment at the end of the show, sorry I missed it. I gave this an hour to grab me and then I left, and that’s only the second time I’ve ever left a show early.
I do have some nice pictures though. Click here.
Nick McCabe – Front Row Photo