Etheridge rocks The Civic

South Waikato News - - ENTERTAINMENT -

Who knew The Civic was a seated venue?

When rock- pop- folk leg­end and Grammy award win­ner Melissa Etheridge shim­mied onto the stage, blonde hair over her face, arched over her gui­tar, there wasn’t a bum on a seat.

And whether it was from pulses ris­ing as an­tic­i­pa­tion built to hear her croon her first note, or just the beat of the drum, the crowd was lit­er­ally on edge.

That first note - strong, pow­er­ful, deep, rich – ev­ery­thing a rock artist with a flair for coun­try and folk should have, sent shivers.

Back in New Zealand for the first time since 1996, Etheridge played in down­town Auck­land last week and heads to Welling­ton be­fore skip­ping across the ditch on her Fear­less Love World Tour from the al­bum un­der the same name.

The 51-year-old les­bian icon, en­vi­ron­men­tal­ist and breast can­cer sur­vivor opened with her ti­tle Fear­less Love track from the 2010 al­bum and had peo­ple danc­ing in the aisles from the get-go.

Husky, soul­ful notes backed up by a thump­ing bass made feet tap, bot­toms wig­gle and shoul­ders shrug in an al­most un­stop­pable way.

An amaz­ing vo­cal range drew the crowd in at the right mo­ment, left them hang­ing at the next, and had them whoop- ing at the end of each song.

‘‘ I love you,’’ she told the crowd re­peat­edly and each time the au­di­ence re­peated her words back in a dreamy, dopey kind of way.

As well as play­ing songs from Fear­less Love she treated fans to all of her clas­sics in­clud­ing Bring Me Some Wa­ter, Come to the Win­dow, Kiss Me and Sim­i­lar Fea­tures.

These hits mainly from the 1990s were by far the best re­ceived.

In fact maybe the only time many au­di­ence mem­bers sat down was dur­ing her world de­but of sin­gle Fall­ing Up, which is off up­com­ing al­bum 4th Street Feel­ing, due for re­lease in Septem­ber.

The Kansas- born singer brought on a half- banjo- half­gui­tar for the tune and said that if young rock­ers could turn in­stru­ments ‘‘that we used to use a long time ago’’ into musthave ac­ces­sories for mu­si­cians to­day, then she could too.

De­spite the new sin­gle be­ing slightly lack­lus­tre, her abil­ity to ap­peal to dif­fer­ent gen­er­a­tions and so­cial groups was ev­i­dent in the make-up of the au­di­ence.

El­derly men and women stood next to young cou­ples – les­bian, gay and straight – while girls on their night out were stand­ing next to mums and daugh­ters at their first concert to­gether.

It was also re­fresh­ing to see a woman on stage own­ing her age and mak­ing it an as­set to her tal­ent rather than a fact-of-life that needed to be hid­den and al­tered and moulded to suit mod­ern- day ideals of what a lady should be like.

Etheridge re­ally rocked the night and just as her songs are per­sonal and in­ti­mate, so was the at­mos­phere she cre­ated.

At the end of the evening it was lucky that The Civic did have seats be­cause all the legs stand­ing up for the two hour per­for­mance needed a bit of rest af­ter all that danc­ing.

– Han­nah Spyksma, Fair­fax

ROCK­ING OUT: Melissa Etheridge put on a leg­endary per­for­mance at The Civic.

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