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Concert Reviews:
Sound Mix Dampens Melissa Etheridge's "Revival" At Opera House
 

By GARY GRAFF
Of the Oakland Press

» See more SOUND CHECK

DETROIT -- There are surely purists out there who will say that an opera house, in this case the Detroit Opera House, is no place for rock 'n' roll.

Melissa Etheridge's stop there on Sunday (Aug. 3) gave some credence to that argument.

It had little to do with the veteran singer-songwriter's performance or the venue, however, and everything to do with the sound mix during the two-hour and 35-minute show, part of her conceptually ambitious Revival Tour. Etheridge herself was woefully under-amplified, to the point where her vocals were buried in a somewhat muddy mix and, more importantly, her between-song comments, so much a part of this particular tour, were inaudible to all but those sitting towards the very front.

That squandered the impact of holding the show at one of, if not THE, most intimate and acoustically perfect rooms in the metro area. And it also meant that for much of the crowd it was simply another concert of songs with a little bit of rumble between them.

It's a credit to Etheridge and her four-piece band that a significant shortcoming didn't entirely ruin the evening, however. While it may have diluted her intended impact of the concert -- framed around the autobiographical material from her 2007 album "The Awakening" -- the performance itself was typically rich and well-crafted, a bit less of the kind of rockin', Springsteen-style stomper Etheridge put on previously and more of a thoughtful rumination about her life, loves and musical career, as well as motherhood and her battle with breast cancer.

It also allowed Etheridge to show how much of a consistent piece her work has been over the course of 20 years of recording. Earlier songs such as "Chrome Plated Heart" and "Nowhere to Go," which started the show, served the Kansas native's story as well as "The Awakening" songs such as "California," "An Unexpected Rain," "Open Your Mind," "Message to Myself" and the album's three-part title suite. Big hits like "Come to My Window," "I Want to Come Over" and the Academy Award-winning "I Need to Wake Up" (from "An Inconvenient Truth") rubbed aural elbows with fan-favorite album tracks such as ""Lucky," "Sleep," "I Run For Life" and "2001," while she played "Not Tonight," which has yet to make an appearance on an album, as the first encore.

Etheridge and company also offered extended takes on favorites such as "Bring Me Some Water" and "I'm the Only One" -- both of which showcased lead guitarist Philip Sayce -- and the show-closing "Like the Way I Do," which gave Etheridge room to stretch out on acoustic guitar.

The net result was a pleasing but not entirely satisfying show. Etheridge had a lot to say on Sunday, with her songs and with her voice; it would have been more effective if we could have heard it better.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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