Melissa Etheridge confided to the crowd at Merriweather Post Pavilion Saturday night that she's frequently confronted by fans who want to know just who broke her heart into so many tiny pieces. But to listen to her songs of "precious pain," it would seem that we're probably dealing with a legion of cads and culprits here.
In fact, it's hard to think of another rock singer around who's addressed heartache in her songs, whether real or imagined, quite as consistently as Etheridge or met with such empathy and approval. Everywhere you looked, young women in the audience were singing along to "Similar Features" and other barbed laments that Etheridge belted out in her raspy, unforgiving tones.
Not a few of those tunes were tediously melodramatic, but where Etheridge once seemed overly mannered on stage, working too hard to win the audience over, now the crowd is hers from the outset. As a result, she's more apt to loosen up and play the role of the heartland rocker -- she's from Kansas, after all -- which is precisely how she and her trio managed to end the concert on such an upbeat note.
Pop-rock savvy and energetic, the Scottish quintet del Amitri opened with a crafty, buoyant and tuneful set of original songs.