Rock ‘n’ roll stalwart Melissa Etheridge is not just whistlin’ Dixie when she says that Mountain Winery in Saratoga is one of her favorite venues to perform.
“It truly is,” Etheridge says. “I will go back a couple set lists and check the songs I did there because there are people who come back every year, and I want to make sure I’m not playing the same songs. We have files of set lists. So I make sure the next show is not too similar to the last show.”
That is refreshing for a regular concert-goer who does not particularly want to hear the same songs over and over. Etheridge has been kicking off her shows as of late with a kick-you-in-the-pants tune, “Shout Out,” from her latest album, “4th Street Feeling.”
“I swear I write my albums because I’m trying to write the perfect set list,” she laughed. Her albums always seem to have one or two “boom” songs designed to ignite a crowd.
“I do that because there’s no energy through the whole show that is like that first moment—especially at one of my shows,” Etheridge said. “I usually try to use that new song that’s rocking because I want them all up.”
While there are going to be tracks from “4th Street Feeling” sprinkled through the night, Etheridge knows there are fans who come for the hits; so expect to hear thousands of folks singing along to “Come to My Window,” “Bring Me Some Water” and “I’m the Only One,” too. She knows that some fans are more familiar with her catalog than others are.
“There are the people that are coming with their friends that are like, ‘Oh, I know some of the songs,’ the big hits. They end up knowing more than they thought they did. Then there is the sort of person who hasn’t bought maybe my last three albums, but they’re very deep into some of the older material; so I’ll dig deep into the albums. Then there are the people who are listening to every single note I put out,” she said. “I also want to show people going in that this is the new music, and it’s still vibrant. It’s rocking. I’m playing better than ever. I’m a better musician than I’ve ever been, and I’m very excited about that.”
Etheridge, a native Midwesterner and proud of it, said she found herself looking back a lot on this album and on the stage, thinking about and talking about aging—and still loving rock ‘n’ roll. This brought up talk about concert etiquette, specifically audience members who want to stand up, dance and rock out versus those who want to remain calm and seated.
“I got to tell you it’s one of the hardest struggles for me as an artist,” Etheridge said. “I want people to just enjoy themselves. I understand some people, they love to jump up and scream and holler. Of course, I love that. That always gives me more energy, and I would love it if the whole audience was standing all the time. That’s an ideal audience.
“At a concert, I like to sit down. I’ve gotten a ‘little lazy legs.’ I completely understand both, but if I’m at a concert and someone is standing up in front of me, I’m not going to make them sit down. I don’t think that’s fair.”
Melissa Etheridge will perform on Tuesday, Sept. 10, at Mountain Winery in Saratoga. Visit www.mountainwinery.com/concerts for more information.