Melissa Etheridge – She had us at hello

Melissa Etheridge
Melissa Etheridge "The Medicine Show" tour

The Medicine Show was high energy at the Wellmont

Melissa Etheridge opened The Medicine Show at The Wellmont Theatre in Montclair, NJ with “No Souvenirs,” and the crowd went wild. The high energy adoration continued for over two hours and 19 songs. Of course after 30 years in the business, and 15 studio albums, there are so many she could’ve chosen from. Aside from the opener, she dug into albums like “Brave and Crazy,” “Your Little Secret,” and the mandatory Bring Me Some Water,” and Come to my Window, from Yes I Am. But the real purpose of the show was to introduce her newest music, The Medicine Show.

Read Amy Scott review of Yes I Am tour in 2018 here:

The new music was received just as enthusiastically as the early hits. Somehow the audience knew most of the words already. The first single Faded by Design” has an awesome “Oh Yeaa-aaah” sing along lead up to the hook. Here she sings about finding relief and answers in Kush. From there, highlights included a couple of great bad relationship songs, “A Woman Like You,” and Suede. She played Shakin, a reaction song to the current political situation, and The Human Chain which has a great funky R&B throwback style, and a groovy message about all of us coming together to heal.

Melissa Etheridge
Melissa Etheridge

Vocally, Melissa is a strong as ever. In fact, age has given her voice an even more intense raw achy sound that is unmatched in the industry. It’s Janis Joplin, with better enunciation,  and her guitar work is masterful. Changing instruments between every song, she performed searing solos on “Royal Station 4/16” and gave her aqua blue 12 string Jerry Jones a workout on “Chrome Plated Heart.” Put her up against any rock guitar god, and it would be a battle worth watching.

One of the best parts of any Melissa Etheridge show is how she makes every person in the audience feel like she either wrote the song for them, or with them. She personalizes her set. “We sure have been together for a long time now haven’t we? And we’ve been through a lot!” She captivates the audience with a growl or a breathy “Uh huh” while singing her heart out. We’re putty in her hands.

By the time she left the stage for the first time, it was clear that she was not done with us yet. She gave, and gave some more, bringing “I’m the Only One,” “The Medicine Show,” and her trademark closer, an extended version of “Like the Way I Do” with a triumphant turn on the drum kit. I think at that point, even she was sad it was over. Because, like she sang, “Nobody loves us the way she does,” or at least she made us believe it.

Album Review: The Medicine Show

The new Melissa Etheridge release The Medicine Show is everything you’ve ever expected from an Etheridge record, and more. Her voice is raw, wailing, passion filled, and totally rock and roll. Her guitar work has never been better. You can tell she’s continued to work on her skills throughout the years. While Melissa really put the twelve string Ovation on the map, she rocks electric Les Pauls like a master.

Melissa Etheridge on stage
Melissa Etheridge on stage

The first single is a great sing-along rocker “Faded by Design” that may take you back to the early days of “If I Only Wanted To.” Which is certainly not a bad thing. Etheridge also includes a lyric about angels which is a bit of a trademark now.

The Medicine Show will appease her steadfast audiences by delivering songs of love and desire “Wild and Lonely” (The night is cold and I’m alone, come and take the wheel) and “I Know You” (Flashes of anger, we disagree, I know the heat when our thoughts and our fears collide, comes from the same fire when you are underneath me, yeah).

And never one to shy away from an anthem, Etheridge fearlessly tackles hot topics ranging from to today’s political climate (“Shakin”) opioid addiction (“Here Comes the Pain”) to the Parkland shootings (“The Last Hello”).

A pleasant surprise is a 1990s style easy funk song asking us all to come together to heal called “The Human Chain,” that will have you swaying along.

All in all, this album will really appeal to Melissa’s fan base. And those she may have lost along the way may want to revisit this artist for a bit of what you fell in love with in the first place.

And for those few who I’ve heard say things like “Same old sound, nothing new here,” WTF do you expect? Does anyone complain if Springsteen puts out a great album that SOUNDS like him? It continues to bother me that when male rockers get older they become legends. When women rockers get old they become judged. Like so many other talented female rock artists, looks and sex appeal often drive record sales. Let’s all try to be better than that.