So I have been holding off on writing any kind of a Melissa post until the pictures came back. I got them yesterday, did my scans and some clean up, and now they are ready for posting.
I should say something about taking pictures at a Melissa concert. This is maybe the third or fourth time I had taken a camera in. Because I am paranoid about security taking it away I have always done this with a disposable. Years ago at the Hard Rock in Las Vegas I did actually have a camera taken away and I was glad it was a throw away. They told me I could check it at the front desk and get it later, but that would have meant missing like 20-25 minutes of show - both annoying and expensive. So we took a throw away. The other important thing to think about is that taking pictures can really ruin the concert. You basically have to watch the whole thing through the viewfinder, waiting for the picture to come up and then jump on it. If you don't you will never get the shot; so your concentration isn't on enjoying the show, but rather on shooting pictures.
I compromised this time. We took a throw away, but I shot most of my pics pretty quickly and spent most of the show with the camera in my pocket - and I gave myself permission not to care if I missed "the perfect shot."
Most of the photos are blurry because these cameras aren't meant for this kind of lighting environment, and because for the first half of the show I didn't use the flash to try not to call attention to myself. One of the security gaurds had been real nice to us and I didn't want to screw that up. So they're blurry, poorly composed, the color is lousy, but what do you want? I did start using the flash eventually because it was sort of a photo free-for-all. Also, for what it's worth, the throw-away was a Kodak APC camera - which strangely none of the 1-hour places seem to want to develop. I only picked that camera because it came with a zoom lens. Naturally none of the zoomed pics came out.
That's the photo inside scoop.
Seats are always an adventure at these things. If you are in the fanclub you can order seats through a back-channel and they are guaranteed to be good, I think the first third of the floor or something. Unfortunately you don't get to see exactly where you are sitting until you pick up your tickets at the will call. So there's always a little bit of xmas morning excitement as you watch fan club people open their envelopes and discover where their seats are.
This show was at the DAR Constitution hall, so here's what we were up against:
Not actually a very intimate venue as it turns out. I hadn't looked ahead of time, but by the name I was expecting something smaller. When we got our tickets they were Row D, seats 9 & 11. So far they seem like they are good, 4th row, although I have been places with an AA (or more) in front of A so there's no real knowing. When we got into the space I was a little disappointed as I gathered that we were all the way against the side - when I checked, the middle sections were in the 100's, so at that moment I was just hoping that 1 was against the wall. But that was unlikely.
So we did have pretty crappy seats. But then it turned out that we were in the first row of that section they'd sold. So even before the show started we moved up to row C on the aisle which was a vast improvement. After that it became clear they hadn't sold row A either. Often they withhold those seats and give them away to enthusiastic looking people in the back. There was a security person at the top of the aisle who wouldn't let us right into the front right away, but after a few tunes he let in one couple and then at the next blackout he let us up. So for the bulk of the show I was in the front row. Before the encores I moved into the middle. So by the end I had a pretty cherry spot. Here's our journey:
The show was great. Something I have discovered about Melissa is that the first 6 feet or so is a totally different show that the first 10 rows or so, and that's totally different than the rest of the floor. It really pays to be real, real close up. This show was organized as a personal history, so she started with old stuff and worked her way forward. I have to say that I didn't so much enjoy this formula. She left out a lot of the songs I really like. She hasn't played The Angels in a very long time, but this time there was also no Like the Way I Do or the absolute monsters from the last time I saw her: Giant & Secret Agent. But I shouldn't complain. The show was three hours, she did an encore and then did Piece of my Heart to finish up. There was Bring me Some Water and I got to hear 2001 live for the first time, and she played all her newest environmental/political tuneage. I think it's likely that Imagine That/What About Tomorrow might find it's way to the Obama people if it hasn't already. There also was lots of wild guitar from Phil Sayce, and the drummer this time around was decent too (although I miss Kenny Aronoff). The stage was nothing to speak of either way, and the lighting seemed like an afterthought - but Mrs. TANBI and I are snobs in that respect.
Soundwise we paid for our spot. We were just in front of the guitar monitor and really for the whole show that's pretty much all we heard. There was just no intelligibility to the vocals at all. I didn't mind much, the missus thought it was too bad. What was really too bad was that when I did move to the center I discovered that they had thought to include a small vocal reinforcement speaker for those people. So if we'd move 6 or 7 feet in at the begining we would have heard the whole thing perfectly.
So this is probably my favorite of the pictures I did get. The reason is that it was a true "snapshot" in every sense of the word. I got an inkling of what was about to happen and pulled the camers out of my pocket, stuck it up in the air, and shot the photo without looking - all in one motion. I had to crop it a bit, and from the sharpness it looks like I never stopped moving, but it really does have that "rock star photo" quality to it.
Mrs. TANBI asked me what it was that I liked so much about Melissa Etheridge. I am not sure I can explain aside from that I connect on a very deep level with the music. There's something to the rhythms of the tune and how they fit with the lyrics. It's almost as if she's able to fill more counts with words than anyone else would be singing the same lyrics. I think that's about intensity, like if you or I were to sing it we would punch it up by going faster but she just moves along with her power, her punching it up coming from inside. She's like a thunderstorm to me, like the Las Vegas sun or the wind off Lake Michigan, she is just so forceful in the way her feelings come across. That's not a good description, and it's certainly colored by my seeing her live which does nothing to explain what pulled me to her music to start with, but it's all I've got - it's about bandwidth, volume (as opposed to pressure), intensity, authenticity, power - there's just so much of her coming through.
I've been to a lot of shows now. I actually think I lost count, but it's something like this: Chicago, New Haven, New Haven, Chicago, Las Vegas, Chicago, Chicago, Las Vegas, New York, Cleveland, Rochester, Pittsburgh, Rochester, Washington DC, Pittsburgh, and Washington DC - so that's 16 times. The last half dozen or so I have gotten a handshake at the end. I'm not sure if it's because I'm typically a little taller than the women around me or if I'm memorable in some way or if it's nothing. I am going to pretend it's because I'm memorable, but it's probably because I can reach higher. I did get that handshake again this time. Afterall, we were fairly close. Here's our version of the pic everyone seemed to be taking:
Mrs.TANBI says it looks photoshopped, even though she took it. By the end of the show, hell from about 20 minutes into the show, I was a little sweaty - maybe that's the memorable part: "the guy that looks like he's about to have a coronary."
Anyway, good tunes, good times, fun people, absolutely worth the drive and the money. I guess I will keep my fan club membership active a little bit longer.
Here's the rest of my pics: