John Mellencamp Community

MELLENCAMP DISCUSSION => Los Angeles, CA => Topic started by: walktall2010 on April 10, 2011, 12:43:20 pm

Title: Variety Review
Post by: walktall2010 on April 10, 2011, 12:43:20 pm
John Mellencamp
(Nokia Theatre; 7,100 Capacity; $130 Top)

Times are lean in America right now and John Mellencamp might just be feeling the pains of economic contraction too. Hardly a sell out, Friday's performance at the Nokia Theater was populated-- at about three quarters capacity-- with a graying fan base eager to indulge its everyman hero and his rugged, if rambling, tales of hardship, loss and day to day life in the U.S.A.

Never one for complexity in terms of songcraft, Mellencamp has overhauled his image and musical direction in recent years to reflect a newfound dedication to American roots and blues music. The evening opened with a film, projected on three large screens, documenting a number of live performances and recording sessions. With a reverent, Midwestern narrator drawling intermittently about Mellencamp's artistic authenticity, the crowd was given the chance to see John and his band perform a number of live songs in ballparks across America. Meaning, in essence, John Mellencamp's band opened for themselves.

After the film wrapped, the ensemble took to the stage and launched into what would be the high point of the evening; a spirited rendition of the bubbly power pop anthem "Authority Song." Mellancamp has always owned a natural gift for broad hooks and crisply-executed arrangements, and "Authority Song" struck its choruses with purpose and vibrant energy. Unfortunately, he would not indulge his top 40 tendencies for the rest of the concert, preferring to re-imagine both old and new material as chugging blues and rockabilly numbers. The shift in direction was most noticeable on the well-worn megahit "Jack and Diane," which suffered mightily at the hands of a countrified arrangement that removed all the dynamic power and syncopation of the original version, and replaced it with an almost sleepy, honky-tonk shuffle.

In spite of the set list's overall lack of energy, Mellencamp's band impressed with its consistently tasteful playing. The guitar tones were warm and crystal clear while Dane Clark's drumming was remarkably precise and tonally exemplary, evoking the work of Nashville session greats Buddy Harman and Kenny Buttrey.

Mellencamp prefaced many of his songs with folksy stories that often failed to fully coalesce into coherent narratives. In one instance he spoke of the devil and inexplicably related it to teenage masturbation. Another anecdote chronicled a metaphysical squabble about religion that occurred with his dying, 100 year-old grandmother. The spoken stories, delivered with no shortage of small-town American charm, were at times humorous, but mostly confusing. Most of Mellencamp's hits were played throughout the evening, but his reinvention as pioneering roots-rocker took all the fun out of what may have been a joyous romp through '80s pop radio standards.

Title: Re: Variety Review
Post by: Mellenfan71 on April 10, 2011, 07:18:20 pm

Title: Re: Variety Review
Post by: johng72 on April 10, 2011, 08:51:03 pm

Yeah, that review is ridiculous.

I had issues with the show, but none had to do with John or the band. Rather my complaints had to do with a very placid audience, and one that was largely MUCH older than John's fanbase at the height of his popularity ought to be. I'm 38 as is my friend that attended. My girlfriend is 34. And I felt we were amoung the youngest people there, though I did see a smattering of younger, and even a few kids. I compare this to a Tom Petty concert I went to a couple years ago were at least a third of the audience was under 30 years old. Anyway, back to John .....absoulutely nuts that there were people sitting down in the first ten rows after the opening song. They were GIVEN the new album with their ticket(speculation on my part that the tickets were dogs with scalpers and were returned to the shady as always promoters who just gave the tickets away to anyone and therefore those people had not heard the new album) and should have known the songs. Even sitting during Walk Tall which is a great song, No Better Than This...another rocking amazing song, and significant lag in recognizing Jack and Diane, Small Town, and Pink Houses. L-A-M-E. And BTW, I give credit to the few 50-somthings who WERE up and dancing the whole show. Good for them for enjoying the concert as much as I did.

Back to the review...what the heck....John is just supposed to run through old hits? He's got a great catalog of music as well as continuing to write new and vital music. As John says...."if you're not part of the future, then get out of the way". I can't imagine how sad it would be to be limited to listening only to music I first heard in high school or college, and sticking only with that for the rest of my life.

Title: Re: Variety Review
Post by: dooley18 on April 14, 2011, 11:37:51 am
John Mellencamp never disappoints! This is the 7th time I've seen him and he always puts on a high energy show. The concert was advertised to be about his new record, NO Better Than This. So what did you expect. If you like an artist, you need to appreciate what that artist does. Weather it's similar to old stuff or something completely different. One of the things I really enjoy about seeing Mellencamp is the cohesiveness of his shows. Of course he put a country twist to Jack and Diane. It fit with the style of music being preformed through this show. A lot of the song that he picked to perform for this concert fit the style and the feel. How sad that you write reviews and didn't get that. His story telling was not confusing it was humorous and lent to whatever song he was about to sing. His performance of the new material was great. He puts his heart into his performance. If I could go again tonight I would. Both me and my husband really enjoyed the show. Thanks John for another great performance!

Title: Re: Variety Review
Post by: dusty947 on April 14, 2011, 01:09:59 pm
I absolutely love the new country arrangement of "Jack and Diane" and the band and John (Especially) look like they are having fun playing it too.  He has rearranged this song too many times to count, and as a fan for 35 years, I love it. I am so glad that he is mixing up the oldies but goodies. You can't please everyone, but no matter what you will have the critics and the people who do not keep up with what was to expect from these concerts... They will always find something to complain about.  Too bad there are people like that but there are many....  What...........?  They don't read up before they attend?  Seems very odd.  I went to see him in Minneapolis in November and luckily can attend in Ames later this month.  I can't wait to see this entire show again.  It was so worth every single penny spent and I bought the Premium Seats for both shows.  Not that I could afford it, but I sacraficed something else so that I could.  This entire show has a beginning, Middle and End to his story.  It is purely fascinating how he puts this all together for this show.  I too hope (from many of the other posts, maybe not on this thread) that the drunks and the ones that need to yell out requests when he is just stay away.  But that is wishful thinking.  I can't imagine doing either..........So disprespectful to an artist such as him.  And just because you yell it out, do you think John Mellencamp is going to change his show for you?
Read up what this leg is all about, and if you don't like it.......Stay home.  Do not wreck it for the rest of us.