Towards the first-act end of Melissa Etheridge: My Window, the woman whom Island Records founder Chris Blackwell called the “new face of rock ‘n’ roll” in 1988 reprises one of only two songs she didn’t write. It’s “On Broadway,” which was top 40 charted by the Drifters and written by Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil, Mike Stoller and Jerry Leiber. It contains the lyric, “They say that I won’t last too long on Broadway.”
Oh, no? Etheridge gives the impression she includes the hot number because, a fan of Broadway musicals since childhood, she’s ready to disprove the tune’s sentiment. And does she! She’s going to last long there. Not necessarily for the obvious reason(s) but for one that may surprise her longtime and vociferous followers.
When the singer-songwriter – born May 29, 1961 – arrives, she enters a set that Bruce Rodgers has given the look of a glittering concert stage. She’s wearing a rhinestone-encrusted outfit, for which costumer Andrea Lauer supplies various eye-popping jackets.
The immediate impression is that Etheridge is at that Broadway pinnacle to give the audience the Etheridge concert of their life and hers. Which is pretty much expected by those who’ve sworn by her, many for at least the last 35 years. And which she does deliver in her gutsy voice while playing with expert confidence several guitars, one piano (she reports that she taught herself to play the funky instrument), and drums. Undoubtedly, she had to take a while to decide which 15 songs of hers to include as well as “On Broadway” and “Piece of My Heart.” She may be the best Janis Joplin impersonator there is.
As anyone familiar with Etheridge knows, she’s gay. She’s never been quiet about it. Quite the opposite. As a result, she has attracted a large lesbian audience. As expected, those are the crowds she’ll immediately attract – and please for their money’s worth and more. They’ve supported her before, and she gives them every reason to be thrilled again, Broadway or no Broadway.