John Mellencamp Community

MELLENCAMP.COM ANNOUNCEMENTS => Blog => Topic started by: sharonc on February 08, 2011, 01:54:09 pm

Title: Ottawa Fan Review + Photo Gallery -
Post by: sharonc on February 08, 2011, 01:54:09 pm -
Photo Gallery from the Ottawa Citizens Newspaper

By Community Member - Ember

Any night spent in the presence of John Mellencamp is a great night, and tonight in Ottawa was no exception.  Having gone to many gigs over the years in larger venues and arenas, I was looking forward to seeing John play at Southam Hall at The National Arts Centre in Ottawa.  The intimacy this show promised made me giddy with anticipation.  To make things even sweeter I was getting yet another chance to experience the magic of a Mellencamp show with my two sisters.

I’ve long admired John’s art, and when I arrived at the venue I was delighted to see that there were five of John’s paintings on display in the theatre lobby.  Four of the works of art can be found in the photo gallery of John’s art: Cain and Able (image #25); Skeletons (image #41); image # 35; image #46.  

I made sure that I arrived early enough to watch the whole documentary by Kurt Markus, It’s About You.  It was a lovely look at the making of the No Better Than This album, and the history and context of the locations John recorded at.  The live footage in the documentary was a wonderful opening act for what was to come.

In the staid environment of Southam Hall most of the time the audience feels the need to remain in their seats.  That lasted about 15 seconds when John walked onto the stage, which made me grin widely.  Being on a budget and having to buy three tickets, we ended up sitting up on the fourth level, with no one behind us to disturb if we wanted to get up and dance.  There were a few other brave souls who got to there feet in the balcony, braving the four story view down to below, something definitely not for those uneasy with heights.  

With a more stripped back version of “Authority Song” the show was underway and I knew this was going to be a special musical adventure. At times it felt more like a countrified gypsy party around a campfire than a concert, and the stage lighting and backdrop helped reinforce the feeling.  It was so dark in the venue I needed to open my cell phone to get enough light to write the set list out.  

While telling us about his adventure’s on the World’s longest skating rink, The Rideau Canal, John mentioned an encounter with a fan who asked him to play “Cherry Bomb” at the show.  It wasn’t going to be on the set list, but we got an impromptu first verse and chorus much to the thrill of the room.

The intimacy of the show was reinforced when “The Longest Day” was started on the wrong chord.  After a chuckle, it was restarted with such little aplomb that it really could have been a song being played at a small party.  John is a master at being able to translate his presence so intimately that you feel he is talking directly to you no matter how far away you may be.

The new version of Jack and Diane fitted very well with the music surrounding it but the different tempo made the phrasing of the verses a little more awkward to sing along to.  Having heard the original for so long it’s going to take a little while for me to fully embrace it.

I’ve always loved to rock out to John’s song and we got plenty of that with “Rain on the Scarecrow,” “Paper in Fire,” “The Real Life,” and “What If I Came Knocking.”  I’m not sure what it was like for those on the main floor, but all the way upstairs the sound was a bit muddy on these big numbers. What sounded the best, and the highlights of the evening for me were the acoustic numbers.  I’ve never heard “Jackie Brown” sound better, and both “Small Town” and “Save Some Time To Dream” were stellar.

After 130 minutes the finale chords of “Rock in the USA” sounded and John waved goodbye to the full house, and another amazing show was over.  As I reflect on the night I count myself lucky that I had the honour of getting to spend such a special night with such a special artist.  Thank you so much John.


Authority Song
No One Cares About Me
Death Letter
John Cockers
Walk Tall
The West End
Check It Out
Save Some Time To Dream
Cherry Bomb - first verse and chorus only, just John
Don’t Need This Body
Right Behind Me
Jackie Brown
Longest Days
Easter Eve
Jack and Diane
Small Town
Rain On The Scarecrow
Paper In Fire
The Real Life
What If I Came Knocking
If I Die Sudden
No Better Than This
Pink Houses
Rock In The USA