Just witnessed your
best live gig?.. send us a review!
Shepherd's Bush Empire, London 17 February 2012
by Noel Buckley
quarter of a century after she was tagged with the likes of Steve Earle
as the then fashionable new country, Melissa Etheridge has stood the
test of time with a multi million selling career while still staying
unwaveringly true to herself.
though she has never had a hit in England and even her return for a
second time in two years to the modestly sized Shepherds Bush Empire was
not a sell out. Yet you rarely see a bond this strong between an artist
and an adoring audience, predominantly of the 'sisterhood' for whom she
is a heroine for being one of the first female rock stars to come out
and, more recently, her successful battle with cancer.
Looking a picture of health at 50, she came on after her band with
acoustic guitar in her trademark jeans and shirt, opening with the
U2-esque title track from her last album, and in my view the finest of
her career, 'Fearless Love', before dipping back over 20 years with 'No
Souvenirs' and the funky 'Chrome Plated Heart'.
the audience between songs, she came over as a slightly kooky aunt or
big sister, and quite an anglophile, discussing rail buffet food, the
likelihood of travel chaos during the Olympics, and how Americans feel
compelled to put on bad English accents.
throaty voice is as good as ever and she has the ability to reach a note
and hold it, shown best on a dramatic treatment of 'I Want to Come Over',
while her band kept it simple and did not try and compete for a share of
the limelight, but produced some impressive interplay, such as on 'Ruins',
while guitarist Peter Thorn was sometimes allowed to stretch out on the
likes of 'The Wanting of You'.
a greatest hits set, there was an impressive diversity of songs I was
less familiar with, including Precious Pain with Melissa joking she was
showing her singer-songwriter credentials by playing harmonica, the very
powerful 'The Different', and 'Meet Me in the Dark', with a sixties feel and
an audience singalong.
did not plug her latest album to the extent her 2010 show had, but both
'Drag Me Away' and 'Nervous' rocked harder than those unfamiliar with her
work might imagine, and built the show to its usual rocking out climax
of a lengthy 'Bring Me Some Water', Melissa jamming with Peter and bassist
Brett Simons, and an encore of 'Like the Way I Do' with the band creating
a lively groove with some great interplay, which belatedly got a few
people in level 1 to their feet.
My one gripe
was that, despite the 2 hour set length, the chat and jamming out meant
that she only fitted in 15 songs, and a number of her best loved songs
such as 'I'm the Only One' and 'Similar Features' were omitted.
Perhaps this show would have preached to the converted rather than
winning new fans, but as well as being an all American icon, Melissa
Etheridge seems to get better and rockier with age.
use the direction keys on your keyboard to navigate easily through the
|Print this page in printer-friendly format