Seeing someone you’ve idolised since childhood is a surreal experience — such was the one I had on Saturday at the Melissa Etheridge concert at the Michael Fowler Centre. And judging by the reaction of the almost sold-out crowd, I certainly wasn’t alone in being awestruck.
By AARON HALLIWELL
My love with Melissa started when I was five or six years old. At that point I had two cassette tapes of my own, Kylie Minogue’s first album Kylie and Jason Donovan’s Ten Good Reasons. I also used to frequently borrow two of my mum’s tapes, the Phantom of the Opera soundtrack and Melissa Etheridge’s eponymous album, and no matter how much I played them, I was never allowed to keep them in my room. A lot of people found it odd that a campy little boy as I was could be so obsessed with the likes of Kylie, Tiffany, and Debbie Gibson, yet also love Melissa.
Melissa Etheridge is still an album I play frequently, and I’ve since kept a close eye on her, buying each album as it came out, feeling an intense connection to the artist and her music, even though I was far more of a pop queen than into the guitar-fuelled rock of Melissa. In the mid-90s, at the peak of her success, Melissa came out, and it happened about the same time that I realised I was gay. The bond with Melissa and her music would only grow stronger. She had joined Kylie Minogue and Steps (yes, Steps) on my top three artists I wanted to see on stage before I died — a list I can happily say is now all crossed off.
Seeing Melissa first appear on the stage, complete with guitar was a spellbinding moment, and my eyes and ears stayed hooked on her for the next two hours. She had me, and the entire audience eating outta the palm of her hand as she sanging her heart out, played the guitar, drums, and harmonica. She didn’t need a flash set, or gharish costumes. It was just Melissa and the music.
She didn’t sing every song I wanted her to — but with nearly a dozen albums to her name, that was never going to happen. However she mixed up her biggest hits (I Wanna Come Over, Bring Me Some Water, Similar Features) alongside her newer tracks from 2010’s Fearless Love album, and brand-new single Falling Up — only the third time she’d ever performed it.
It was an incredible experience, which for me was 25 years in the making. I can’t even find the words to describe how I felt during the very extended encore of Like The Way I Do. I walked away elated, as it appeared did the rest of the surprisingly mixed crowd.
She promised she’d be back, sooner than we expected, and it’s a promise I hope she keeps!
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