I went away from Melissa Etheridge’s concert at Melbourne’s Palais Theatre thinking that a review would be so easy. It was, after all, one of the best shows I have seen in more than forty years of concert going. But then it hit me. How do you come up with superlatives to describe something like that? Amazing? Brilliant? Awesome? Yes, it was all these things but even these descriptions don’t do it justice. From the moment this rockin' dynamo hit the stage, you just knew that this was going to be something special. Etheridge is that rare breed of singer /songwriter /musician who appears to deliver the goods so naturally that you sense she is enjoying every minute of it. And she does it without all the gimmickry, theatrics and other added extras that so many other artists seem to find necessary in order to gain and maintain the crowd’s attention.
While her singing and song writing talents are widely and deservedly acknowledged, her musicianship is perhaps a tad underrated, in my opinion. Etheridge is an adept guitarist and she certainly proved those skills with this performance, changing guitars like some divas (who shall remain nameless) change costumes and certainly with a great deal more finesse.
Currently in Australia for her ‘This is M.E.’ tour as well as a show stopping appearance at Byron Bay’s 27th annual Bluesfest last weekend, the singer is blowing audiences away with her performances around the country. I had heard some excellent reviews about her performance at Bluesfest and, although I have been a fan since she released her first single in 1988, this was my first opportunity to see one of her concerts and I have to admit to being just a tad excited about it.
Those who turned up early enough to catch support act, Irish born Canadian singer/songwriter Irish Mythen, would have been glad they made the effort to hear this powerful voice. Her finale, The Old Triangle which she sang sans guitar, earned her a standing ovation from many in the audience. Not something you see too often for a support act.
By now, the crowd was quite revved up, the theatre was filling fast and the atmosphere was intensifying as we waited for Melissa to take the stage and from the moment she did, there was no mistaking that this was a rock show, pure and simple. No gimmicks, no fussy theatrics and no over-inflated egos. Just Melissa and her guitar and a four piece band and she rocks! She rocks with passion; her songs are fired with so much emotion that you feel as though she has reached into your soul … or is that just me? I certainly admit to being totally swept up in the moment.
While this show was definitely all about the music, it would be remiss of me not to mention the lighting which, at one point during the show, featured a swirling display of colours on the ornate ceiling of the old theatre. Perhaps in a more modern setting, it wouldn’t have had quite the same effect but this historic and iconic theatre was the perfect place for this colourful light show and drew numerous ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ from those who could take their eyes off the stage for a minute or two.
The set included songs from her most recent album ‘This is M.E.’ which, of course, is the name of the tour. And why ‘M.E.’? “Because,’ she explained ‘After 50, it’s all about ME!” And fair enough, too, I say!
‘Monster’ was one of the most popular of the newer songs, bringing a number of people in the first few rows to their feet. But there was no shortage of her well known hits, dating back to her debut album released in 1988. 'Similar Features', in fact, was the second song in the set and all her popular hits flowed throughout the night; songs like ‘Come to My Window’, ‘I Want to Come Over’ and 'I'm the Only One', as she alternated between the old and the new and the crowd knew every word along the way, old and new alike. They went wild well before the singer even uttered a word and the excitement didn’t abate throughout the night. The eagerly anticipated finale ‘Bring Me Some Water’ sent the crowd nuts but everyone was on their feet long before the finale began.
The crowd begged for ‘One More!’ and, obligingly, Melissa and the boys returned to the stage for an encore, an extended version of ‘Like the Way I Do’, and I have to say it was one of the most amazing encores I have seen or heard. Melissa gave it her all, even sliding off the guitar for a while to give the drums a bash, much to the delight of the crowd.
Melissa's 'This is M.E.' Australian tour is about to wrap up but if you happen to be in Perth, you have one last chance to catch this dynamic performer before her Australian tour ends. Melissa Etheridge will be playing her final show of the tour tonight at the Riverside Theatre in Perth. If you don't already have a ticket, you can purchase them from ticketmaster.com.au or phone 13 61 00 for tickets. And I would highly recommend that you do!
What can I say? Was Melissa Etheridge awesome? Does she electrify and rock you?
Review by Sharyn Hamey
Copyright © Sharyn Hamey 2016. All rights reserved