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It's been 23 years since she graced us with her presence in Manchester, but tonight the legendary American singer/songwriter Melissa Etheridge is standing tall and proud on the stage tonight at the Academy. Loved by her fans worldwide, [although probably more famous in the USA] for her rock n' roll passion, outstanding musical abilities, heartfelt lyrics, her proud stance as a lesbian and overcoming a brave battle with cancer in 2004.

Melissa has taken away Grammys for 'best female rock vocal performance in 1992 and 1994, become notable for her mainstream hits, "Come to My Window," "I'm the Only One" and "I Wanna Come Over', her songs weave their stories around failed relationships, great passion and life's adventures. 'Fearless Love' is her most recent album, and we got to hear some of it tonight, alongside many from her huge back catalogue.

Melissa is embarking on a world tour, after a break from live music for a few years and tonight it is our turn for a piece of the action, its seems we have been missing her far too long. If you want to see a truly awesome female performer, someone who can set the stage alight, someone to set your standards to, then you need look no further. This woman was never going to disappoint us tonight I had no fear of that, and I have been waiting over eight years for this chance, and now I was going to photograph her as well - what a bonus and a privilege......[Mel] Laura take it away...

Arriving at the Academy in the midst of confusion and chaos as fans were instructed to enter one way then another. Tensions where running high from poor door organisation and also anticipation of a long awaited performance. The mostly female audience let out a loud cheer and screams as the lights lowered and the pounding of a heavy drum began to fill the room. With no support act before her Melissa entered the stage with her band and embraced the audience connecting with them instantly and she shouted, "Manchester, its been a while… Are you ready to be fearless?". The guitars fired up and she started with 'Fearless Love' the first track from her latest album of the same name. Instantly the audience sang along "I am what I am…" with their hands reaching out. Appearing warm, open and fully engaged Melissa held out her guitar and asked, "Are we going to have some fun tonight?" She reminded us of her 23 year absence and how she's learnt a lot in that time, "I've learnt how important it is to speak true, and you can do anything, if you really want to…" 


As Melissa exchanged her guitar for a beautiful turquoise electric one the beat of the drums turned a little funkier and she began playing the riffs to 'Chrome Plated Heart'.  Her husky vocal tones added to the now sexier mood and she took it up another gear. When performing live her songs are expanded and the guitar solos are thrashed out. Melissa told us that she wrote 'Royal Station 4/16' whilst in Newcastle and she was learning to play the Harmonica. The room she stayed in was over a train station and she captured the sound of the trains running beneath her on the Harmonica. Hot from her performance she talked about having so much hair and recalls her baldness from battling cancer, "Cancer, I didn't have time for Cancer!" she stated....a fan shouts "Your amazing!" There was a lot of respect for her in the hall and she laughed, "Its gonna take more than that to get rid of me". Then she sang 'Drag Me Away' in which her previous statement are lyrics and how she won't be overcome by 'disease'. Melissa is a women of substance whom has faced more than her share of life events, "This is what its about, right here, right now…" as she reflected on her career with her fans and how music really isn't about making money.

During her song 'Nervous' in which she played out in flamboyance style, she even had time to throw in a little of Elvis 'Fever' lyrics. Melissa was completely consumed in her performance for a whole 2 hours and at moments danced beautifully with her guitar in a sensuous duet. She threw her long blonde hair back and forth as she got onto her knees, then she lay on the floor giving it her all, playing that guitar with ultimate passion. At times she rested her head on a band member's shoulder and they played together side by side. Completely in the moment Melissa was enjoying herself ironically whilst sharing lyrically some of the toughest times of her life. She takes you on a journey as you feel the emotion through her music. All throughout the show the audience sang right back with her, obviously her fans are dedicated and I can understand why. Melissa is a true inspiration to women as she dares to be and express herself whilst speaking true.  As her energetic, fun filled show  came to a end Melissa thanks her band, Brit on the Bass, Blair on Drums and Peter on Guitar, then she thanked Manchester, "You were just as rocking as I remember". She then sang, 'Bring Me Some Water', which was a running joke with an audience member throughout as Melissa went for her drink bottle. She came back for an Encore, 'Like The Way I Do' and she began playing one guitar with Peter. She stood behind and they blended the sound together across the stings with their fingers in rhythm. Then in true rock style put their guitars together to create crazy electric feedback. Wearing a smile Melissa bid us all farewell, "Goodnight Manchester, I love you". We love you too Melissa. Thank you.




Fearless Love

If I Wanted To 

Chrome Plated Heart

I Want To Come Over

You Used To Love To Dance


Come To My Window

Silent Legacy 

Don't You Need

Royal Station 4/16

Drag Me Away 

Must Be Crazy


Bring Me Some Water 


Like The Way I Do.


Review by Laura Everett
Photos/intro by Melanie Smith

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