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Author Topic: Jacksonville Review  (Read 2712 times)
walktall2010
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« on: March 16, 2015, 07:02:33 am »

Concert review: John Mellencamp takes a while to get rolling, then smokes the tires
By Tom Szaroleta
Mar 15, 2015

Going to a John Mellencamp concert has always been sort of like sitting in the passenger seat of a hot rod. Strap in and hang on, because it’s gonna be a wild ride.

Sunday night at the Times-Union Center, Mellencamp had the hot rod all polished and ready to go. But for much of the show, he never took it out of second gear.

He played tons of familiar songs but played many of them at a slower tempo, in keeping with the style of his latest album, “Plain Spoken.” That didn’t always work, robbing some songs of their punch. “Check it Out,” for instance, didn’t have the same white-knuckled wallop when it was slowed down. But on others, the more leisurely pace gave the passengers a chance to pay attention to the stories he was telling and appreciate the wordplay he’s always done so well.

Of course Mellencamp, like any good hot rod owner, couldn’t resist putting the hammer down eventually. Toward the end of the show, he cranked it up for a mad dash through “Crumblin’ Down,” “Authority Song,” “Pink Houses” and “Cherry Bomb.”

The sold-out crowd should have known this wasn’t going to be a typical Mellencamp show when his band walked on stage at 8:30 p.m. dressed in tuxedos (other than violinist Miriam Sturm, who wore a floor-length gown). They started with a couple of new songs, “Lawless Times” and “Troubled Man,” setting the tone for the evening. The new album is a throwback to the pre-rock days of electric blues, although the lyrics of “Lawless Times” could apply to 1915 as well as they do to 2015.

Just when he got some momentum rolling with “Small Town,” four songs into the set, Mellencamp downshifted, playing “Stones in My Passway,” a Robert Johnson song from 1937.

He followed that pattern throughout the evening, speeding things up, then slowing them down. Some of those slow moments were pretty special though — he rasped his way through “The Full Catastrophe,” making it sound every bit like something out of a smoky club in the ‘40s, and his take on “Jack and Diane,” alone on stage with just an acoustic guitar, was perhaps the evening’s finest moment. “Away From This World” and “Tear This Cabin Down,” a couple of songs from the musical he wrote with Stephen King, were also highlights.

But people came to hear the hits the way they remember them, and Mellencamp is shrewd enough to know that. For the last 45 minutes of the show, the band members loosened their ties and stomped on the gas, making a song like “Rain on the Scarecrow” sound even angrier than when it came out 30 years ago.

Mellencamp closed the show with “Cherry Bomb” and didn’t come back for an encore, which left some in the crowd grumbling. By that time, though, he had been playing for an hour and 45 minutes without a break and had played the same he’s done at most dates on this tour. The gas gauge, it would seem, was on E.

http://jacksonville.com/entertainment/music/2015-03-15/story/concert-review-john-mellencamp-takes-while-get-rolling-then
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