O2 Shepherds Bush Empire 27 April 2015
Melissa Etheridge has won an Oscar , 2 Grammys, survived cancer and braved whatever life has thrown at her, but at tonights show she admitted in her usual straight talking way that she was once intimidated by UK audiences. Clearly the passage of time has quashed these old fears as Melissa now faces the notoriously difficult British audience alone. This is nothing new, she started her career playing solo in bars and clubs and since achieving fame she returned to the stage without her band for her Live and Alone shows back in 2001 (Check out the superb live DVD.)
This time round she comes prepared with a variety of percussion instruments, guitars and peddles to create her sound. Rest assured these are never overused, Melissa has been setting down great rhythms and percussion on her trademark 12 string Ovation for far too long to be reliant on gadgetry. The first track to make use of her set up is Chrome Plated Heart, a classic track from her stunning debut album. Melissa seems at ease with the supportive crowd, despite her earlier confession and has no problem interacting with them and offering bite sized chunks of information behind her songs. It's this open and honest rapport she has with her fans that has made her an inspirational role model – she's a star that doesn't hide behind the trappings of fame.
New tracks Take My Number, Ain't That Bad, Like A Preacher, the epic Monster and the desperately intimate Who Are You Waiting For are well received; But it's the old favourites, Bring Me Some Water, I want to Come Over and Like The Way I Do that really rouse the audience. Her distinctive vocals are hugely expressive throughout and the lack of the band forces you to focus on the fact that she is a tremendous song-writer and storyteller. Sadly there was still no sign of Angels Would Fall on the set list but there were some present surprises; Silent Legacy and a terrific cover of the Joan Armatrading's song The Weakness In Me.
Once again Melissa Etheridge gives a stunning and energy driven performance back at the O2 Shepherds Empire. Hopefully now she's allayed her fears about us Brits she'll come over and play more often, we'd love to have her back.