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Author Topic: Facebook Fan & Concert Reviewer JM in Concert: The American from In Indiana  (Read 5212 times)
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« on: December 01, 2011, 12:01:27 pm »

By Gioia Patton

So I was sitting there in my seat at the Louisville Palace last Sunday night at 10:36pm, seconds after John Mellencamp had wrapped up his No Better than This Louisville tour date with Cherry Bomb and thinking to myself ‘when I describe this night I’ll a liken it to having experienced three completely different but equally wow concerts back-to-back. The first third of the night was rockabilly music (i.e. No One Cares About Me, Walk Tall, Crumbling Down,) the second third was acoustic (Jackie Brown, Jack & Diane, Easter Eve, Longest Days, Small Town,) with the final portion being good ole fashioned rock ‘n’ roll (What If I Came Knocking, Ain’t That America, R.O.C.K in the U.S.A. and Cherry Bomb.) That said: you can just imagine my reaction while on the internet 24 hours later after I came across an article in the Savannah Morning News-in which Mellencamp’s guitarist Andy York had said about the No Better Than This tour: “(It’s) basically three different acts.

 Act I is the rockabilly portion. Act II is the acoustic set. And Act III is the take no prisoners set.” Nuf said. Although Mellencamp’s Louisville concert provided many ‘I’m loving this!’ moments that night- the first one, at least for me, occurred the moment he strolled out on stage at 8:30pm, dressed in a beautifully tailored solid-black suit and solid white buttoned down shirt. My instantaneous reaction was to scribble down: ‘J.M.’s ‘look’ is that of a sexy and handsome Wall Street broker.’ Not only that, the five male members of Mellencamp’s band (the sixth being a female violinist) appeared to be dressed in varying degrees of the same black suit-and that look combined with the beautiful and enormous painted *backdrop (*see my closing concert moment photo,) gave the whole tone a rather upscale nightclub vibe.

‘Act I ‘: ‘I fought authority…and authority always wins!’ chanted the sold-out crowd along with Mellencamp at the top of their lungs during Authority Song, which opened the set, followed by No One Cares About Me, which was toe-tapping rockabilly at its best. I was particularly enamored by the very sensual Death Letter which showcased Mellencamp’s guitarists- my shoulders involuntarily rising and falling to the beat of the music. The first notes of Crumbling Down resulted in the crowd jumping to their feet where they remained singing along during the chorus: ‘And the walls kept crumbling down…. And the walls kept crumbling down….crumbling down….yeah!’

 ‘Act II’: The much-awaited Jack & Diane was performed by Mellencamp alone on stage- his acoustic guitar and a solo spotlight his only companions. The song was also a particular highlight of the night because it was one of four songs that the crowd sang along to from first note to last. I also particularly liked Easter Eve (lyrics and melody-wise sounding like something one would hear in an Irish bar,) and Mellencamp’s very detailed and interesting story behind how he came to write it. And I felt the same way about the lovely ballad Longest Days (Life is Short); which the singer/songwriter/musician explained beforehand was inspired by one of his final face-to-face meetings with his (then) 100-year-old grandmother. I would be remiss about my Mellencamp virgin-concert experience if I didn’t mention that as great a time as I was having up to and throughout Longest Days (the 13th song of the night,) when a songwriter’s had as many hits as he has- (22 Top 40 hits and over 40 million albums sold worldwide,) some people can’t wait until their personal ‘favorite’ is performed. This brings me to the only part of the evening I and anyone within earshot could have done without-which was hearing a woman from the back of house right repeatedly shout out ‘SMALL TOWN…SMALL TOWN!’ in between songs-her pleas instantly breaking the ‘spell’ we were all under that night. It got to the point that by song #9 it was all I could do not to walk up to her and through gritted teeth whisper in her ear: ‘I’m looking at a set list here and Small Town is #14, so cool it!’ But I didn’t. Small Town also provided me with the two biggest laughs of the night. The first occurred when it seemed like almost no one but me recognized the iconic song during the opening cords of Mellencamp’s slower paced and acoustic version, until hearing him sing the opening words ‘I was born in a small town,’ whereupon the entire audience suddenly realized what it was, howled in approval, jumped to their feet, and then like Jack & Diane earlier in the evening- sang along, word for word. The second ‘laugh’ occurred a few more lines into the song when the many times married and divorced Bloomington, In. native changed a lyric to: ‘married a (couple of) girl(s) in that small town!’ After Small Town’s conclusion Mellencamp left the stage for a brief break while his fantastic band performed an instrumental number, before reappearing sans jacket, and with his white sleeves rolled all the way up his muscular arms.

The ‘Act III take no prisoners’ portion of the concert began with Rain on the Scarecrow, followed by the beautiful Circling Around the Moon, and the testosterone-fueled What If I Came Knocking-the latter song being another of my favorites that night. While the crowd was still on a collected high from What If I Came Knocking, Mellencamp quickly cranked the entertainment dial up even higher by launching into the last three songs of the night; beginning with the much anticipated and patriotic Ain’t That America at 10:11pm, accompanied by, once again, the entire house singing along at the top of our lungs. Then without skipping a beat he went straight into the anthem-like R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A. powerhouse, before concluding with Cherry Bomb. I’ve been to a lot of concerts over the years, but I have to say that at the Louisville Palace last Sunday night I experienced a unique ‘first;’ because mid-way through R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A. as the crowd chanted the chorus over and over with fist pumps exuberantly raised overhead, I realized (that) the patriotism of this former Army brat had kicked in full-force because the hair on my arms and back of my neck were standing on end.

Gioia Patton is an arts & entertainment celebrity profiler and concert reviewer.
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