OCTOBER 30, 2010 - Bloomington, IN - Indiana University Auditorium - No Better Than This Tour Kick Off
Report filed at 2am after the show, please overlook any typos :)
John Mellencamp - Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar
Mike Wanchic - Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Mandolin, Hand Percussion
Andy York - Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Banjo
Miriam Strum - Violin/Fiddle
Jon E Gee -Hand Percussion, Electric Bass, Acoustic Upright Bass
Dane Clark - Cocktail Drum Kit, Traditional Drum Kit, Hand Percussion, Tambourine
Troye Kinnett - Accordion, Piano, Organ, Keyboards, Hand Percussion
No One Cares About Me
Deep Blue Heart
The West End
Check It Out
Save Some Time To Dream
Don&#39;t Need This Body
Right Behind Be
Jack and Diane
Thinking About You
Rain On The Scarecrow
Paper In Fire
If I Die Sudden
The Real Life
No Better Than This
Rock In The USA
MELLENCAMP.COM&#39;s RECAP BY TONYB & SHARONC
Tonight Bloomington, IN saw the opening of John&#39;s No Better Than This world tour. The show was a dramatic change for John. Finding him not only in theaters for the first time in thirteen years but also performing in an "evening with" format with no other act on the bill. John promised in the tour announcement that there would be three distinct segments to the show, acoustic, rockabilly and full rock. The "opening act" was the movie It&#39;s About You that was filmed by Kurt and Ian Markus during John&#39;s 2009 tour with Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson. The hour long movie played as people entered the theater and set the stage for John&#39;s new album which was recorded during the 2009 tour. Additionally, John had six of his large form paintings on display in the theater&#39;s lobby for fans to get a good up close look at.
The show opener, "Authority Song," was stripped down to its rockabilly roots core. The band at the opening consisted of Andy and Mike on hollowbody electric guitars, Jon E Gee on the upright bass, and Dane Clark playing a stand up cocktail style drum kit. A true to the album version of "No One Cares About Me" came second and was followed by the stripped down "Deep Blue Heart." "Heart" spotlighted the early guitar oriented sound with lots of atmospheric ringing chords and a gorgeous guitar solo shared by Andy and Mike.
Troye and Miriam entered on bluesy romp "Death Letter" and the reimaged "Walk Tall" followed, grooving on Troye&#39;s old time upright piano sound, it was a highlight of the evening. John turned up the fire on the impassioned "The West End" and closed out the rockabilly set with a crowd favorite, "Check it Out." John transitioned into the acoustic/folky/rootsy segment of the show with "Save Some Time To Dream" and the acapella "Cherry Bomb." "Right Behind Me" off the new record featured the full band and was full of musical twists and turns.
John followed with his only politically orientated comments of the night. He pointed out that all to often the government takes care of the common defense but fails at the general welfare of the American people. He moved on to the similarly themed "Jackie Brown" that found John and Miriam on a darkened stage under a dimly lit spotlight. Simply put, it was a standout moment of the show and the hushed audience paid testament to that.
An emotional "Longest Days" was up next with the full band joining in for "Easter Eve" under a tree lined screen. The new tour lighting was amazingly simple yet beautiful. The stage features a backdrop of an image of an old square like you were in John&#39;s beloved Savannah, GA looking out a window. Over the course of the show, from song to song, the backdrop is highlighted in different ways adding shapes and overlays to the background image. The lighting used on the stage and the lights pointed at John and band constantly are changing color and intensity as well, no two songs look the same. The sound of the performance was also amazing. Just as sharp, crisp and clear as you could want for a performance such as this, one that featured many musical subtleties happening at once.
Back to the show run down! John reinvented "Jack and Diane" as a spirited rootsy rave up. The band exited with the exception of Andy who joined John on the nostalgic "Thinking About You" which silenced the crowd who were hanging on John&#39;s every word.
John had no trouble in getting the crowd&#39;s voices involved as he went into a solo acoustic version of "Small Town" in his hometown of Bloomington. The crowd provided spirited singing filling in the phrase "small town" when John prompted them. Troye and Miriam stepped out to play on the end of "Small Town" and then they brought the acoustic portion set to a close with a revised version of the "Hymn" they developed last year. The new version takes melodic parts from John&#39;s songs "Big Daddy of Them All" and "Minutes to Memories" and pairs them with the traditional "Old Rugged Cross."
As the hymn ended John and the entire band re-emerged with Dane on his full drum kit, Jon E. Gee on electric bass and Mike, Andy and John all armed with their electric guitars. They kicked off the rock set with a driving "Rain On the Scarecrow" leading into "Troubled Land" and "Paper In Fire." A storming "If I Die Sudden" and peppy "The Real Life" continued on finding John and band pounding away in quick succession. John and full band swung into the new "No Better Than This" with dramatic power.
John gave his thank you&#39;s to the crowd tipping them that the show was soon coming to an end. He and band rolled in the always wonderful "Pink Houses." As soon as "Pink Houses" ended Dane Clark kicked into a 60&#39;s style rock beat. The band joined in with some playful singing and riffing along and John began introducing each band member. John again thanked everyone for coming down and unleashed "ROCK In The USA." The crowd was dancing in the isles and singing along at full volume. At the instrumental break John reached into the crowd and pulled a female fan out of the front row to join him for a series of dances. Once done John directed the crowd to pull out their cell phones and call up their best friend and tell them that John had something to tell them. John grabbed someone&#39;s phone and had a little fun with the party on the other end of the line. John then sang the final version dedicated to the people on the phone and took everyone out with one last big chorus. The crowd showered their applause and adoration on John and band as they left the stage after playing for over two hours.