Dr. Rock
By Dave Richards Erie TImes-News staff blogger
News about entertainment in and around Erie   Read more about this blog.
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Posted: October 24th, 2012
Etheridge rocks small but fierce crowd

Touring behind a reflective, stripped-down album, Melissa Etheridge opened up and delivered an earthy, earnest and impassioned set Tuesday before a small but voracious crowd of approximately 1,100 fans at the Warner Theatre.
The set was, well, what set? The stage featured no backdrop, no props, no adornment. Other than a drum kit in a corner that read “Leavenworth Junior Band” — a nod to her Kansas hometown — the stage was bare except for the basic amps, microphones, monitors and musical instruments. That put the focus squarely on her music and her running dialogue through the concert.
Clad, at first, in all black, Etheridge spoke often during the show about her life and struggles: with cancer, with not fitting in, with past partners, with her own tendency to run away from problems rather than confront them.
“4th Street Feeling,” her new album, perhaps prompted the looking back; she wrote most the songs for it the year she turned 50. The almost jazzy title track looks wistfully back at simpler times; she played keyboards on that. The beautifully nuanced “Shadow of a Black Crow” insisted you can’t run from your own past forever; your shadow follows you ever.
Of course, during her intro to surviving-cancer anthem “I Run for Life,” she also spoke about being cancer free for nearly nine years and how dealing with the disease taught her to put herself first for a change.
But all was not serious this night. She repeatedly talked about loving Erie’s Warner Theatre and thanked Gannon University for providing a place for her and her band and crew to play softball on Monday. And her team won, so she was in especially happy spirits.
Etheridge showed off her musical dexterity during the show, playing guitar, banjitar, harmonica and keyboards. And, during her show-stopping, regular-set closer “Don’t Bring Me Water,” she traveled around the stage, jamming with each member of her band — even engaging in a drum duel with Blair Sinta (her hero, for belting a grand slam in softball).
Etheridge leaned heavily on “4th Street Feeling,” but also dove back as far as her debut album with “Chrome-Plated Heart.” She also managed to make her hits sound fresh, as if playing them the first time. The gusty, powerhouse “I’m the Only One” especially rocked, with Etheridge’s raspy, gut-busting vocals and lead guitarist Peter Thorn stretching out for a muscular, meaty solo.
Etherdige’s devoted fans stood up nearly the entire show, absorbing every note, every word she said. She delivered an autographed CD to one fan, drumsticks to another. She did one new song live for the first time (“A Sacred Heart”). She talked about enjoying Erie, though she seemed to think Buffalo was a suburb. Like her own song “Be Real,” that’s what she was: just real. So no fancy set, no pyro — none of that was necessary Tuesday. She let herself out and left everything on the stage, especially during a fierce, defiant encore, “Like the Way I Do” and a sensual, bluey “Rock and Roll Me.”
She said she’ll be back, but we’ll see. I thought with her chart success that Etheridge would attract your basic rock and roll loving crowd; her rousing music is pretty mainstream, after all. But it was nearly all women, mostly couples, as if men feared to showed up (which she joked about, at one point). Too bad. They missed a powerful and generous show — she played nearly 2 1/2 hours — from a rocker with a big voice and even bigger heart.
The set list:
1. “Shout Now”
2. “Falling Up”
3 “I Want to Come Over”
4. “Kansas City”
5. “4th Street Feeling”
6. “Chrome Plated Heart”
7. “Shadow of a Black Crow”
8. “Come to My Window”
9. “Be Real”
10. “You Can Sleep While I Drive”
11. A Sacred Heart”
12. “No Souvenirs”
13. “A Disaster”
14. “I Can Wait”
15. “I Run for Life”
16. “Rock and Roll Me”
17. “I’m the Only One”
18. “Bring Me Some Water”
19. (Encore). “Like the Way I Do”

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2 Responses to “Etheridge rocks small but fierce crowd”
  1. char szklenski says:

    Great concert. Suprised at the weak showing! You all missed a fantastic night. Thanks Melissa!

  2. Michelle says:

    This concert was fantastic! To see a Rock and Roll artist like Melissa Etheridge in the Warner Theater was a treat! It was interesting to my husband and I that there were not more men at the show…but we didn’t care, we had a wonderful night of music!!!!

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