Friday, July 05, 2019

Like the Way I Do: Elk Grove Village Provides a Freely Festive Live Introduction to Melissa Etheridge -- Chicago Concert Review

Concert Review

Melissa Etheridge
Rotary Green
Elk Grove Village, IL
July 4, 2019

My list of living, active rock 'n roll performers I'd like to see in concert but never have is rather low...and dwindling.

On the 4th of July, this list dropped by one as I saw Melissa Etheridge and her band, for free, at the Rotary Green in Elk Grove Village.

I've been a fan of Etheridge since her self-titled 1988 debut album--it remains my favorite of hers--so I really don't know what took me so long.

But despite the messiness of having to deal with the throngs at a free suburban holiday event--somewhat ameliorated by arriving 2+ hours ahead of showtime--I'm glad I went.

Etheridge recently played a show at Ravinia--on a double-bill with George Thorogood--but to have been on the lawn there, without a view of the stage, would've cost $38; twice that to be in the pavilion.

In Elk Grove Village, I wasn't right up close, but I could see Etheridge onstage and hear reasonably well.

There was no opening band, nor preceding Independence Day festivities--i.e. no food booths--but
after camping out in the hot sun since 5:20pm, I was glad when she and 3 band mates took the stage promptly at the announced 7:30.

I ain't really gonna bitch about being part of a generally genial and well-mannered crowd at a free outdoor show on America's birthday.

I'm grateful for being able to park both my car and my sling chair in pretty decent spots, never felt less than comfortable and got to see a long-admired artist for the first time, without paying a penny.

But the show, at least initially, was a tad marred by things beyond Melissa's control.

Out in the open air, she and her band weren't loud enough, and though "All American Girl" was an apt opening, it and the next two songs were unfamiliar to me and seemingly much of the nearby crowd, some of whom opted to carry on conversations.

As I recognized "I Want to Come Over" and "Don't You Need" while the sun began to set and the loudmouths quieted, things began to gel.

I'd only done a bit of listening to Etheridge's new album, The Medicine Show, but welcomed hearing the title track and "Wild and Lonely."

And late-show renditions of "Come to My Window," "Bring Me Some Water" and "I'm the Only One" were terrific.

After 90 minutes, Etheridge & Co. left the stage for an encore, but were clearly made aware that post-show fireworks wouldn't begin until 9:30pm.

So on her own, Melissa covered Janis Joplin's "Mercedes-Benz," then she and the band turned "Like the Way I Do"--my favorite tune of hers--into a 25-minute romp, including Etheridge playing the drums for a bit.

I'm guessing Ravinia didn't hear a version quite like that, nor get a 2-hour performance from Etheridge.

So while in some ways, a similar setlist might've come off considerably better at the Chicago Theatre, the festive-yet-rambling setting did offer some benefits as well.

I owe it to myself, and to Melissa, to see her in a more intimate, indoor venue; the acoustics and vibe would probably amp things up at least 1/2@ if not more (on my @@@@@ rating scale).

But particularly when paired with a rain-free evening and a fine fireworks show afterward, I'm happy to be able to now say that I've seen Melissa Etheridge live in concert. 

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