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Review & Set List: Melissa Etheridge @ Shepherds Bush Empire, London

by David Spencer,

Halfway through this rare visit to London by Melissa Etheridge, the singer confesses to have once been intimidated by British audiences, apparently because of the accent. Shortly after she tries her own attempt at a British accent, which ends up being like one of those awful mockney-style voices used by less-impressive American actors in period dramas. Etheridge can be forgiven for this slight discrepancy, as she is not here to tell jokes, she is here to perform songs from her more than 20 year career. In fact she's performing as a one-woman band, carrying out this short tour across Europe on her own.

Thankfully there are no cymbals strapped to her arm or a large drum fixed to her back, instead she uses technology; she has a number of percussion instruments to supply the beat, which are looped and layered to allow her to play a mixture of acoustic and electric guitars in both rhythm and lead parts. She likes her guitars too, there are at least eight of them sat ready and waiting at the back of the stage.

Etheridge's new found confidence with British audiences is displayed when someone calls out for Bring Me Some Water and she replies that before she plays it, she will need to “get a little crazy” first. The set starts with Chrome Plated Heart and ranges from the rockier, I’m The Only One and Come To My Window to the gentler Who Are You Waiting For (from her new album This is M.E.), a very personal song that she performed at her wedding.

There’s also an impromptu Gently We Row, which she says was requested at the previous show in Ghent. She reveals how it was written for her daughter while she was holding in the boundaries in her early teens (and joked that she’d got some of the words wrong). Sat at the piano at the back of the stage, Etheridge performs Joan Armatrading's wonderful Weakness In Me, a song she reveals has featured in her set from her early days performing in bars. Since those days, she has become a global artist and an icon to many.

The newer material holds up surprisingly well, with Take My Number and Monster outstanding, as well as the bluesy Ain't That Bad. The rousing Bring Me Some Water and Like The Way I Do from her 1988 debut album are saved to last, to the crowd's delight.

Etheridge plays with fantastic energy and raw power which helps emphasise her husky style and angsty lyrics. Before the show, Melissa tweeted “London! I am so ready to rock you tonight like I never have”. She certainly did.

The set list:

Main Set
  • Chrome Plated Heart (from Melissa Etheridge, 1988)
  • If I Wanted To (from Yes I Am, 1993)
  • Take My Number (from This is M.E., 2014)
  • Silent Legacy (from Yes I Am, 1993)
  • Must Be Crazy for Me (from Never Enough, 1992)
  • Who Are You Waiting For (from This is M.E., 2014)
  • Like a Preacher (from This is M.E., 2014)
  • I Want to Come Over (from Your Little Secret, 1995)
  • Ain’t That Bad (from This is M.E., 2014)
  • Come to My Window (from Yes I Am, 1993)
  • Monster (from This is M.E., 2014)
  • Gently We Row (from Fearless Love, 2010)
  • The Weakness in Me (Joan Armatrading cover)
  • I'm The Only One (from Yes I Am, 1993)
  • Bring Me Some Water (from Melissa Etheridge, 1988)
  • Like the Way I Do (from Melissa Etheridge, 1988)