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« on: April 25, 2011, 09:12:51 am »

Mellencamp leaves them wanting more
By Joe Couture, Leader-Post

He may be turning 60 later this year, but that sure didn't stop John Mellencamp from playing an entertaining and highenergy show at the Conexus Arts Centre on Friday night.

The majority of people in attendance would have been in their teens and 20s when Mellencamp shot to fame in the early 1980s.

They came to hear the hits, and Mellencamp told them soon after he took the stage that if there was a song they wanted to hear, he would probably get around to it. He did, indeed, covered many bases during what ended up being two hours of solid performing.

But the show actually started about an hour before Mellencamp took the stage with a screening of a documentary called It's About You. This road diary, shot in Super 8 by Kurt and Ian Markus, followed Mellencamp on tour while the rocker was also recording his most recent album, No Better Than This.

The album was recorded at historic locations that included the First African Baptist Church in Savannah, Georgia, the Sun Studio in Memphis, and the Sheraton Gunter Hotel in San Antonio. Mellencamp recorded the album using a 1955 Ampex portable recording machine and only one microphone.

The documentary shows that Mellencamp emphasizes purity over production - and the approach is true of the live shows as well.

Mellencamp openedwith a version of his 1983 hit "Authority Song." Then it was "No One Cares About Me," No Better Than This, released in late 2010.

With his repertoire of 21 studio albums in 35 years, Mellencamp had lots of material from which to draw. He continued to impress the crowd on Friday with "Death Letter," "John Cockers," "Walk Tall," "The West End" and "Check It Out." Then, the band took a backseat and it was Mellencamp alone with his guitar for the pretty "Save Some Time To Dream." After an a cappella version of "Cherry Bomb," the mood intensified with "Don't Need This Body" and "Right Behind Me.

A version of "Jackie Brown," featuring Mellencamp on guitar and a musician on violin, was followed by a story about Mellencamp's grandmother, the inspiration for "Longest Days."

There was no conversation after that.

The band returned and rocked with a vengeance, blasting through hit after hit, flowing from one song into the next.

A country-style version of "Jack and Diane" started the home stretch of the show, and was followed by "Small Town" and "Rain on the Scarecrow." The set included "The Real Life" and "If I Die Sudden." Mellencamp finished with a bang with two of his biggest hits, "Pink Houses" and "R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A."

Mellencamp's band, which includes violinist Miriam Sturm, guitarist Mike Wanchic - who has been with Mellencamp since the '70s - guitarist Andy York, bass player Jon E. Gee, drmmer Dane Clark, and keyboards player Troye Kinnett is very talented, and each member shone on Friday.

The crowd, which was on its feet for much of the show, remained standing and applauding after the concert was over, hoping for an encore. One seemed likely, as Mellencamp had not played his 1982 hit "Hurts So Good," the only song for which he has won a Grammy.

But as the house lights came on, it became clear that Mellencamp was not returning to the stage. Perhaps his more than three decades in the business have taught him that it's always good to leave the crowd wanting a bit more.
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