OJ. Simpson’s dramatic chase and capture fell directly in the middle of Melissa Etheridge’s show at the Greek Theatre, leaving the audience torn over which show to watch.
In the pre-show hospitality room, television viewers were grudgingly forced out when the concert started, most unwilling to leave the gripping saga on the set.
Etheridge’s opening act, Atlantic’s Billy Pilgrim, was a victim of that drama , playing to a crowd probably composed of friends and relatives.
Etheridge did her best to keep the crowd informed about the unfolding events, announcing when Simpson was taken into custody. But the surreal real-life chase made it difficult for the late-arriving crowd to fully settle into the show.
Etheridge is on the road in support of “Yes I Am,” her fourth Island Records album and first following her public outing of herself at the Clinton inauguration.
Although a good percentage of her audience appeared to be gay couples, that aspect of Etheridge’s life is only subtly addressed during the show, mostly with double-entendre lines that are given an extra emphasis for the cognoscente.
Etheridge was fully up to taking on a preoccupied audience, eventually rousing her adopted hometown crowd into the kind of joyous celebration possible only when a performer is an icon to her audience. The effect was best demonstrated on the new song, “All-American Girl,” a legitimate rock anthem that brought the crowd up and out of their seats midway through the show.
Highlights on that memorable Friday night included the Grammy-winning “Ain’t It Heavy,” Etheridge’s vocals belting like Bruce Springsteen, and “I’m the Only One,” a first-rate album rocker.
Etheridge closed Friday’s show with a reworking of Rod Stewart’s “Maggie May, ” a salute to the king of raspy vocals from the queen of raspy vocals.