Written and Photographed by Stacey Lovett
So much talent has graced the stage of the legendary Gruene Hall, its old wooden frame absorbing the poetry of life sung from the stage. Melissa Etheridge has infused her own energy into it selling out here once already in the past year and returned to do it again, this time peddling her elixir for the heart with her Medicine Show.
Etheridge has always packed a powerful dose of passion into her music and those confessions that speak to & from the heart are what make her so widely loved. She sings a relatable song. She recognizes and works through all of the ailments of the heart, extracting the essence to remedy this shared experience through music and the passion given back by the crowd proved her decoctions are magical. Her new album, she explained, is one of “growth, learning and sensitive shit” but still a throwback to ‘90’s Melissa’ –the “unrivaled true story of redemption and a ’74 Fender” full of songs detailing the road of a heart’s abduction of the mind in the throes of passion to their peaceful meeting point. As she rocked out as hard as she could give, her set also had an ‘unplugged’ spirit to it as she shared anecdotes of where she was in life at the point of certain songs throughout her career. This insight shined a more intense light onto her messages throughout the years and defines the beautiful intricacies of Medicine Show. She transmits this passion, this power and this story of transformation to her audience – made up of mostly women – as her delivery reflects the topography of a heart that has lived life, experienced love and found a higher love within. The set wove together her earlier anthems with new power tunes chronicling a rise of the heart through heartache and heartbreak into one’s own light – a theme that can relate on both an individual and collective level in today’s times. Never has she lost that power she was born to relay and what she harnesses in the new album – the strength and clarity – paired with her passion transmits that love will indeed live. Change is derived through emotions and she advocates this positive shift to the fellow female fans who are going to use it as she states in “Human Chain” that it’s “time to come together” and do so through love. Etheridge embraces the audience and humankind in her performance as the light in her eyes takes in all of the love and power they collectively send out singing along from the heart. She’s built a confidence in love and passion throughout her career and voices it to be received and spread with the same un-forced power to define that voice as a whole. Following a Twitter selfie of herself and the crowd, she left them with one last bit of advice to be strong, speak true, and spread the peace because love is choice and we’re not good to anyone else unless we’re good in ourselves.
The rafters of Gruene Hall have seen so many years of talent beneath them but some performances knock a little more dust off than others. Melissa Etheridge undoubtedly rocked her message of love and truth once more, clearing a little more space for others to shake things up alongside in the future.