LIVE: MELISSA ETHERIDGE – Perth, 1 April, 2016
Riverside Theatre, Perth – Friday, 1 April, 2016
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar
She had ‘em in the palm of her hand within the first minute of strolling onstage in front of her four-piece band as they grooved away: the antithesis of a diva, she was calm, chatty, assured, heartfelt and above all, warm, proving that it’s not rocket science: real people = real reactions. This is Melissa Etheridge.
The next two-and-a-quarter hours went by in a flash, great songs tumbling out one after another, and Etheridge’s warm bond with her audience reminding us of Bruce Springsteen – a connection emphasised when she added a vocal-only stanza of On Fire to her hit I Want To Come Over.
“I realised why you’re here,” she says conspiratorially to the full house at one point. “You made some of the same crazy mistakes I did!” And they lap it up, along with every one of her very human, personal songs.
Etheridge focussing primarily on favourites from her 1988 debut album, adding two tracks from her latest This Is M.E. album (the ‘I’m there for you’ shoulder to cry on of Take My Number and the swampy grunge of Monster) and a handful from her in between years (Come To My Window, the yearning I Want To Come Over and a raunchy & impassioned I’m The Only One).
Frankly, Etheridge & her band were in such fine form, and her audience so enraptured by her every word, that she could have sung the phone book to as fervent a response.
We may primarily know her as a singer and strummer of the acoustic guitar, but each time she straps on one of her beautiful vintage electrics and wanders the stage playing extended solos, she proves a revelation, even joking with ever-smiling bassist Jerry Wonda that the more she gets into playing guitar, the longer and longer her set times stretch out. With playing like this we’d take bets on a dedicated hard rock album being a winner.
About two thirds of the way through security gave up trying to keep Etheridge’s more excited female fans seated, and it took only moments for the front of the stage to be three or four deep in grasping, whooping, hollering, dancing (mostly) women. The star of the show remained composed and down to earth throughout, demurely acknowledging one effusive admirer’s outpouring with an amused, “well, I’m very fond of you too!”
Set closer Bring Me Some Water saw Etheridge spend some time one-on-one with her band members, even scraping her guitar up and down that of her guitarist, in a rock n’ roll move reminiscent of Blue Oyster Cult’s heyday.
After a short break, a fifteen-minute encore of Like The Way I Do proves the highlight of an outstanding night. During this epic performance of the debut album favourite the band leave the stage and return again, Etheridge plays a drum duet with her drummer, four sticks tipping, pounding and tapping octopus style around his kit, and near-shreds her fingers on her white 12-string acoustic guitar and she strums frenetically, bringing the house down.
If I Wanted To
I Want To Come Over
Take My Number
Don’t You Need
Come To My Window
Chrome Plated Heart
I’m The Only One
Bring Me Some Water
Like The Way I Do
Filed Under: Live Reviews
About the Author: Editor, 100% ROCK MAGAZINE