For most of her show at the House of Blues on Tuesday, as in most of her career, Melissa Etheridge was, in song, a woman with clouded vision. Prowling a colorfully decorated stage and wearing a headset microphone, she was clouded by love in "Bring Me Some Water" and "Come to My Window," clouded by rage in "Scarecrow" (about the murder of Matthew Shepard) and the new "Tuesday Morning" (about Mark Bingham, the gay man credited with trying to retake Flight 93 from terrorists on Sept. 11, 2001).
But it was her most casual and understated moment that illuminated everything else. Before starting her gay-rights anthem "Silent Legacy," she sang, sweetly, "If you're going to San Francisco, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair."
None of the rabid fans at the show -- the first of four sold-out nights to launch her new album, "Lucky" -- could have had any doubt that the quote from Scott McKenzie's '60s hippie ode celebrated the thousands of same-sex marriages that have taken place in San Francisco.
And it was fitting, given the tone of domesticity that characterizes many of her new songs. In some ways, the album is of a piece with her first two, 1988's "Melissa Etheridge" and 1989's "Brave and Crazy." But where there once was an edge of secrecy and suspicion, the new "Lucky" and "Mercy" come from a place of contentment -- albeit with a hint of uncertainty.