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Melissa Etheridge: She Came to the Orpheum (Not Your Window)

At first glance of the stage for the Melissa Etheridge show at the Orpheum Theater on Wednesday, February 24, one would think a grand concert was about to take place. There were no less than five electric guitars on stage, a combination bass/electric guitar, a standard bass, a grand piano, and various percussion instruments.

Had I left after photographing her first song; that would be the lasting impression the stage set up would have given. Needless to say, a grand concert did take place, but much to my surprise, it was all Etheridge. The This is M.E. Tour 2016 had a double meaning - of course her name, but the solo aspect too.

Melissa took advantage of a unique looping rig to assemble tracks live. She’d start out with some sort of base line (a drum beat or vocal quark) and would add more pieces to the base, creating a full backing track. After the creation of the track she would choose a guitar or bass as the remaining driving force of the song. The end product with Melissa’s vocals on to is a “Full” song created live on stage by her and her off stage engineer.

I had seen previous set lists from the tour and was a bit concerned as mathematically from studio tracks; the show would be quite short and not really a justification for a high ticket price. What was essentially an hour and fifteen to thirty minute set easily stretched into the two hour mark.

The reimagining of her material was the perfect fit to the Orpheum which she took the time to praise several times throughout the set. Highlights of course were the hits, but the unfamiliar tunes also garnered to same amount of respect and excitement. Several times throughout the set the audience erupted in cheers and standing ovations.

Going into her show I can say I really didn’t have any expectations either way. I had respect for her as an artist, but never listened to her. After that amazing set, I have a completely different to on her. You can see a gallery of pictures here: http://jalbum.net/a/1700425

 

 

Steven Hatley is a New Orleans-based photographer. You can find more of his photography here.