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Author Topic: 1983 Toledo Concert Review  (Read 8462 times)
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« on: March 28, 2011, 10:52:27 am »

Wednesday, May 18, 1983

Enthusiastic Crowd Greets Cougar In "Homecoming"

By Ralph Kisiel
Toledo Blade Staff Writer

It was a homecoming of sorts for John Cougar at the Toledo Sports Arena Tuesday night.

Cougar told the crowd that Toledo was one of his first gigs back in 1975, and he has never forgotten it.

But this was eight years later, and what unfolded on stage was a raw and dynamic performance which few other bands could equal in intensity.

The size of the crowd was disappointing, barely filling two thirds of the arena, but what it lacked in size, it made up for in enthusiasm.

The winning banner in the WIOT-FM radio poster contest summed up the evening quite well, "The Glass City Rocks With John Cougar and FM 104."

Cougar and his band, The Zone, which included two female backup singers, greeted the revved up crowd with "Bow Wow Wow," one of his earlier, obscure songs, and never idled till the show ended.  

Cougar and his band may be one of the sleaziest around, both in look and stage antics. But it complements the music, and is quite a refreshing approach.

Cougar stuffed a half dozen roses, thrown to him from an admirer, in his back pocket as the band kicked into "Ain't Even Done With The Night," from his fourth LP entitled "Nothin' Matters and What If It Did."

'Ain't Close To Being Done'

"We ain't even close to being done with this night," Cougar screamed at the conclusion of the song. During the band's next offering, "Thundering Hearts," Cougar stopped the music in mid-song, baiting the crowd by saying, "You guys are bad. You know it, right?" Cougar continuously displayed his skill at grabbing the crowd and keeping it in his hip pocket.

The two female singers were there for more than just background vocals. Cougar grabbed one by the waist and swung her around as he would a microphone stand.

Cougar has said that he dislikes his stage name, his real name being John Mellencamp, but his stage antics often resemble such a beast as he prowls about with fingers snapping to keep the beat, or leaping upon a waist high amplifier in a crouch. That energy rubbed off on the remainder of the band, particularly guitarists Larry Crane and Michael Wanchic, who would race about the stage with equal exuberance, yet not getting in the way of the main man.

During "Hand To Hold Onto," Cougar's song about realizing you need other people and that it's good to be close, he did just that by continually reaching out to the outstretched hands of those fans in the front lines.

Surprise Of The Evening

The surprise of the evening was Cougar doing a new song on acoustic guitar called "Pink Houses," which does not yet have any instrumentation to accompany it. Cougar played it "the way I write it. No band, just me." Despite hearing it for the first time, Cougar had the crowd singing along to the chorus before he finished.

The crowd reaction to the next offering was not unexpected.

"I wrote this song about growin' up in these parts. I hope you're not sick of hearing it." Cougar said as he launched into "Jack and Diane," the Number One hit single from "American Fool." He had the entire audience helping him on the chorus to this one. Cougar left no time for the vocal chords to rest, as "Hurts So Good" brought a frenzied crowd response, as he dashed up onto an elevated ramp behind the drummer.

Another pleasant twist to this show was his earlier hit song, "This Time." Cougar and the band started the song as it is normally played, a more laid back pace, but then said, "Let's not do that song that way, let's do it fast." The rearranged version blew the original away.

If there was any complaint about Cougar and the Zone, it was that the show was too short, not much more than one hour.

Huey Lewis opened the show with an hour set that proved that not all news these days is bad news.

Opens With New Song

Huey, and his band, The News, opened with a new song, "The Heart of Rock 'N' Roll Is Still Beating," off the band's yet unreleased third LP. That song in itself was indicative of the tight, slick set that Huey Lewis and the News performed.

Throughout their show, the band displayed impeccable harmonies, a trademark of this band, which is a difficult task to achieve in a cavernous hall not designed with acoustics in mind.

Huey pulled songs primarily from the band's second album, "Picture This." What immediately strikes you about this band is its relaxed stage presence. Huey and band have such a masterful command over their material that when performing it, they just ooze with coolness.

Huey's surprise of the night was the a cappella version of the old Sam Cooke tune, "Chain Gang," which was a good lead into the band's biggest hit, "Do You Believe In Love."  
« Last Edit: March 28, 2011, 05:50:47 pm by walktall2010 » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: March 29, 2011, 07:25:52 am »

I never heard about any out of cycle shows John did in 83 right around the recording of Uh Huh after the American Fool tour.

Would be amazing to hear an early live version of Pink Houses like this.

Thanks for the find Mike!

I know we have some Toledo fans, anyone there at this show?

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« Reply #2 on: March 29, 2011, 09:20:23 am »

In looking at the Uh-Huh liner notes, the album was recorded in July 1983, so this performance of "Pink Houses" came almost two months before it was even recorded and five months before it was released. "Bow Wow Wow" was the Was (Not Was) song that Mitch Ryder sang and that was released in 1983, so here you had John covering a song that was brand new at the time instead of one of his '60s favorites. Of course, John covered this song again on the Cuttin' Heads tour in 2001 in the middle of "Authority Song."

Finally, Huey Lewis and the News was the opening act for this show, so John went from an opening act in the fall of '82 to a headlining act in the spring of '83, but it looks like people were complaining about the amount of time he was on stage even then (just over an hour). Huey played almost as long as John did. The interesting thing here is that Huey did an a capella version of Sam Cooke's "Chain Gang," and John did a similar rendition of that song on the Lonesome Jubilee tour four years later. Did he get the idea of doing this song in this fashion from Huey? Very interesting.   
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