Melissa Etheridge: ‘This is M.E. Solo’ at Strathmore

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Iconic rocker Melissa Etheridge has been tearing up the country showcasing her new album and old favorites on her This is M.E. tour. For this leg of the tour, she ventures out solo – just her and her 9 guitars (11 if you count the double necked ones) and a piano, rocking out to some of the most recognizable anthems of the last few decades.

Melissa Etheridge. Photo courtesy of The Music Center at Strathmore.

Melissa Etheridge. Photo courtesy of The Music Center at Strathmore.

The Grammy and Academy Award-winning singer and songwriter, cancer survivor, and LGBT activist was in fine form last night for an intimate concert at Strathmore, which she calls one of the most acoustically perfect places she’s ever played.

She took the stage in casual black jeans and a jean jacket and immediately blasted into her hit “Lucky,” which showcases her gritty powerful vocals and poetic lyrics.

She played a lot of old favorites like “If I Wanted To” and “Come to My Window,” and “I’m the Only One.” She often accompanied herself with a few drums and a tambourine, using the magic of technology to record licks over one another making for a deeper sound. She also broke out the harmonica on a few songs.

Most songs turned into jams as she switched between guitars named Elaine, the Monster, and the Girls, and her unnamed favorite 12-string. While she often makes the news for her activism or her love life, she’s quietly become one of the most accomplished guitarists of her generation. She reveled in the chance to lose herself in some impressive improvised riffing.

She also showcased a few of her lesser-known songs like “Chrome Plated Heart” and “Skin Deep,” a song she says she hasn’t played in 20 years. The set list seemed merely an idea as she threw in songs that interested her. When she sat down at the piano, she mentioned the audience was a great “listening audience,” so she pulled out the quiet, heartbreaking “Please Forgive Me.” As a prolific songwriter, she only did one cover of the night, a Joan Armatrading song “The Weakness in Me” on piano. She said it was from the days where you could hear her for a $1 cover and nobody knew her name.

She jumped back to the present, but only played a couple from her new album including “Like a Preacher.” It’s classic Melissa, heavy on rhythm and soul-bearing lyrics.

Etheridge seems to be in back-to-basics mode to the delight of her audiences. She released a greatest hits album 10 years ago, and now seems to be just playing.  As she declared unapologetically at the start, “After 50 – it’s all about me!” Or should I say, M.E.  We can only be grateful in all her “selfishness” she chose to release a new album and go on tour.  It was a glorious night of music.

Running Time: Two hours with no intermission.

Melissa Etheridge: This is M.E. Solo played for one night only on August 26, 2015 at The Music Center at Strathmore – 5301 Tuckerman Lane, in North Bethesda, MD. For tickets for future events, go to their calendar of events.

RATING: FIVE-STARS-82x1555.gif

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