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Author Topic: Mellencamp in incredible form after 19-year gap  (Read 4585 times)
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« on: July 08, 2011, 03:20:40 pm »
By Mike Cohen

John Mellencamp at Manchester Apollo

THE omens weren't good.

It had been 19 years since John Mellencamp last visited these shores. In those intervening years he had suffered a heart-attack and seemed to be mellowing out.

In addition, his support act was a one-hour documentary about the making of his latest album No Better Than This.

While I could happily have watched this documentary at home - and I will when it is released on DVD - it did ruin the mood slightly. Then again, when I saw him in 1992 at Birmingham NEC, he was supported by a juggler.

But I need not have worried. From the opening notes of Authority Song, Mellencamp was in incredible form.

He followed this with No One Cares About Me which blew away the version on his newest album.

Of course, it was the classics which got the best reception, but the tracks from No Better Than This went down very well.

Mellencamp did a Dylan for the opening part of the show - ie not addressing the audience - but once he started talking there was no stopping him.

He spoke of meeting a fan before the gig who asked him to perform Cherry Bomb.

Strangely, the artist formerly known as Cougar, said he preferred to look forward, not back.

But he still performed an incredible acapella version of Cherry Bomb, accompanied by 3,000 fans, which made the hairs stand up all over my body.

Easter Eve, from No Better Than This, was another highlight, telling the story of how his son saved him from a beating.

No-one recognised the start of his biggest hit, Jack & Diane, as he countryfied it, but it still got a huge roar.

And then it was classics all the way with Jackie Brown, Small Town, Rain on the Scarecrow, Paper in Fire, Crumblin' Down, Pink Houses and R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.

One lucky guy even got dragged on stage to sing a verse of R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.

And despite everyone clammering for more, we knew there was no way he could top that song, so there was no disappointment as the lights came back on.

One of the reasons for Mellencamp's success is his incredible band, including violinist Miriam Sturm. She performs the same role as the late great Clarens Clemons did for Bruce Springsteen.

She is Mellencamp's foil and her violin - not exactly a rock instrument - adds another dimension to the songs.

So John, don't leave it another 19 years till you come again - and next time why not perform for an extra hour instead of showing us a film.
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