October 21, 2016
To contextualize one’s music career with the careers of other artists and genres can be risky, but when done right the contextualizer’s work can be appreciated anew. The gamble pays on Melissa Etheridge’s new release “Memphis Rock and Soul,” in which she dives headfirst into the Stax Records’ catalog. Presented live with her own songs peppered in, it’s a masterstroke by one of rock’s best songwriters and guitarists.
Last night at the Keswick Theatre, a sea of fans adored Etheridge’s every interpretation of the deep past and her own career.
Etheridge was a glorious ball of energy, rocking out on 12-string guitars on both sides of the stage and even taking to the drums for part of an almost 20-minute performance of “Like the Way I Do” in the encore. A showman through and through, she sounded like a preacher pontificating about love in many forms. Performers like Otis Redding and The Staples Singers had their songs interpreted with great energy and craftsmanship by Etheridge and her nine-piece backing band.
The night had many rock crescendos. The best came early when she segued from William Bell’s “Any Other Way” to her own classic “I Wanna Come Over.” The crowd jumped to its feet and started dancing.