The recent cold front brought in so much smoke and bad air from the Oregon and California fires over the weekend. Despite that, things were fairly clear at the Sandy Amphitheater for the great Melissa Etheridge. There was a slight haze covering the mountains, but the air was significantly better than it had been the few days prior. The temperature was perfect. It was totally warm without being too hot.
I could feel the excitement growing within the audience as we got closer to showtime. With a few minutes to go there were a few last-minute checks on the lights which only led to the audience anticipation. The musicians then walked on stage.
Once the musicians were in place, Melissa Etheridge ran out onto the stage. She was met with a very excited crowd. She commanded the stage right off the bat! This was Melissa’s first time performing in two years! I could tell that she was so grateful to be back on stage. It was pretty obvious that she appreciated the opportunity to perform more than ever.
I was blown away by her electric guitar skills. I knew Etheridge played guitar, but I guess I wasn’t aware of how much she could shred on the electric. She’s very clearly an accomplished guitarist and she displayed that at this concert. After a few songs, she switched to a gorgeous black acoustic. She switched guitars often throughout the concert. She might have switched guitars every song. I was in love with the effortless way that she played. I wouldn’t be surprised if I found out she was born with a guitar in her hands.
Etheridge shared that she spent a month working out the setlist. She mentioned that she has a tradition of choosing at least one ballad per concert. For this night she chose the song, “Mercy” from her 6x platinum album Lucky. She sounded amazing! It’s crazy how she can sustain notes the way that she does. I know that she’s worked hard at her craft but everything she does seems so effortless and natural.
The staging of the show was very simple, very stripped down. I loved the simplicity of the stage. Despite Sandy Amphitheater being a large venue, the simple staging made everything seems very personal and intimate. In a way, I felt like I was watching a cozy indoor show.
Melissa Etheridge is a consummate rock star. People literally could not stay still. Most people were on their feet dancing, clapping, and singing along. If they weren’t dancing, they were swaying in their seats. The high energy of Melissa’s performance became infectious and it flowed throughout the entire amphitheater.
As is typical for a Melissa Etheridge concert, she spotlights a couple albums each night. She likes to make sure that anyone who might attend multiple shows would never feel like they were watching the same show again. As someone who likes to see bands multiple times, I love that she does this! It shows how much she cares about her fans.
The first album she featured was her self-titled album from 1988. She played a few songs from this album. “The Late September Dogs” was my favorite of the bunch. The song felt super nostalgic not only to me but with so many in the crowd. During the song “Occasionally” Melissa’s band cut out and she would drum on her guitar and sing acapella. Then they all came in to finish the song.
I remember thinking throughout the concert that Melissa has probably performed these songs countless times.
it was such a fresh performance. Etheridge embodies everything it means to be a professional. She is truly a perfect performer. Her tone is so incredible. Her voice is so raspy but so full. Those two don’t always go hand in hand but for Etheridge it does. Even on “Occasionally” where it was just her voice and playing the beat on her guitar, the sound soared throughout the venue.
Etheridge played “The Medicine Show” from her 2019 album of the same name. She mentioned that she wrote the song in 2016 thinning it was a crazy year. “If I only knew!” she said.
The pinnacle of the evening was getting to see Etheridge perform “I’m the Only One”. The audience was all on their feet, everyone moving around and just totally into it. This was definitely another favorite moment of mine. Particularly her guitar solo during the song. The song went for almost ten minutes. She played harmonica, sang her heart out, and completely brought the house down. She finished the song by saying “Utah, you rocked my world tonight!”
This was the perfect kickoff to Melissa Etheridge’s tour. The concert had me wishing I was a teenager back in the 90s. I can imagine rocking out to Melissa’s music with my friends. Luckily, it’s never too late and I get to enjoy her music now. Her new album One Way Out comes out September 17th and I can’t wait. It will not disappoint!
Review and Photos By: Breanna Downs