The audience greets Crystal Bowersox with a standing ovation, and she strolls onstage, strumming the opening chords for 4 Non Blondes' What's Up -- a song she has said she tried to perform on the show but couldn't get writer Linda Perry to grant the license.
Crystal has traded in her mic stand for a wireless headset mic, allowing her to roam the stage freely. "Sing along, guys, it's real easy," she encourages the crowd, and they respond, gladly.
For Crystal, the signs have come out: "Holy Toledo Mama Socks Rocks" reads one, and another says, "Village Idiot [Hearts] You," referring to a venue she used to play.
"These lights are so bright, it's hard to see anybody up in the back, so can I hear you?" A roar starts in the back and works forward. "That's what I like to hear!" Crystal says.
"This song is by a new good friend of mind, Melissa Etheridge," she says, as she introduces Come to My Window. The song starts slow, so the audience sits down, but many of them get on their feet again as it picks up at the chorus.
Crystal's smiling big tonight. "This is pretty cool, man. This is the first date on our tour. We've never done this before. How do you like it?" The crowd absolutely loves it.
Crystal sits on the edge of the stage for Patty Griffin's Up to the Mountain, and the audience in the front rows crowd as close to her as they can. She can't stay there long, though -- there's too much passion in this melody to keep seated. The crowd has offers scattered screams of support throughout her performance, and, when she finishes, many of them rise with their applause.
Crystal introduces her next song by saying she auditioned with it, singing it a cappella. She's glad to have the chance to do it with a full band now. It's Piece of My Heart, which she turns into a set-closing rave-up with just a touch of Janis Joplin. The audience knows she's got it, and it clearly makes them feel good.
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