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Melissa Etheridge's new concert video asserts her power both as a performer and as an individual

Melissa Etheridge has made a career of being down-to-earth and passionate. So it's only fitting that her new Live...and Alone DVD set, which details her 2001 solo tour, is an unpretentious and intimate look into the singer as well as her life on the road.

The tour came hot on the heels of her seventh studio album, Skin, which documented her personal journey from bitterness and despair to healing and renewal following her highly publicized breakup with Julie Cypher, her partner of 12 years. Featuring Etheridge alone onstage with her guitar, backed only by an understated light show and intermittent video projection, the tour was the last leg of that journey, and the DVD captures its last stop at the Kodak Theatre in Etheridge's hometown of Los Angeles.

Released just in time for the holiday rush, the DVD is available in two versions. The single-disc standard edition contains a 90-minute excerpt of the live concert film plus a previously unreleased recording of the Joan Armatrading classic "The Weakness in Me." The two-disc deluxe edition serves up two hours of concert footage on disc 1, while disc 2 offers a home video-ish tour diary, an in-depth interview, several bonus audio and video tracks, and--perhaps the most sought-after goodie--rare (although brief) video footage from a 1987 solo performance at the Pasadena, Calif., lesbian bar Vermies.

Director Michael Simon, best known for his VH1 specials on celebrity lives, does an amazing job of keeping the DVD simple yet entertaining, allowing Etheridge to do what she does best--connect with her audience. The concert film, in its straightforward, close-up presentation, is as raw and powerful as Etheridge's actual performance. The tour diary, with behind-the-scenes snippets from stops in the United States and Europe, offers fans a rare peek inside Etheridge's home, tour bus, hotel room, and dressing room. It also introduces us to her girlfriend, actor Tammy Lynn Michaels, as well as her manager, her publicist, and various other members of her tour crew. In the interview, shot on the stage of the Kodak Theatre, Etheridge speaks with candor and in great detail about what this period in her life has meant to her. Her account of September 11, 2001, which she spent in Dallas, is particularly moving.

Above all else, Live... and Alone's greatest success (and clearly its intent) is to give the viewer a real sense of not only Etheridge the entertainer--the self-described "tool" of the universe, a phenomenally effective communicator of human emotion and experience--but also Etheridge the person: girlfriend, mother, and citizen of the world.

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