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Author Topic: Roanoke Review  (Read 8352 times)
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« on: June 18, 2015, 06:58:20 am »

Mellencamp fires up his crowd at Berglund Performing Arts Theatre
By Tad Dickens

Nearly 40 years have passed since John Mellencamp started in the music business, and he still knows how to get a crowd stirred up.

From the look of things at Berglund Performing Arts Theatre on Wednesday night, many in the audience of 1,797 had been Mellencamp fans since he first came to national prominence in the early 1980s. But they were just as game as the headliner to rock out. Some were a little too game. Some were even obnoxious.

By the end of the night, even Mellencamp was exasperated with the struggles among security and one giant and overly exuberant reveler.

"Would you guys quit fightin' down there?" he called out after he and his band played one of his signature hits, "Pink Houses." "I'll have to hop down there and kick you guys' asses or something."

It wasn't the typical relaxed crowd in the 2,100 seat venue. But that's what good rock 'n' roll music can do to people. It can get them fired up, maybe a little out of their minds. Mellencamp figured that out way back when, with such classics as "Small Town," "Paper In Fire," "Crumblin' Down" and "Authority Song."

He and his groove and texture machine of a six-piece band delivered those songs, some newer and lesser known ones, even a couple of numbers that he wrote with horror author Stephen King for a musical.

Of the musical, "Ghosts of Darkland County," Mellencamp said that he and King didn't know what they were doing when they began working on it 15 years ago, but it is now scheduled for production in London's West End.

"Art is never complete; it is only abandoned," he told the crowd. "The only critic without an agenda is time. Time will tell what kind of person you are."

Two hours told the tale of a performer who at first seemed distant, but by the end was fully engaged, his raspy Indiana drawl warming up as the set went on, his outsized charisma keeping security busy with audience members who wanted to rush the stage or spaz around the center aisle.

He started the show with songs from his most recent album, "Plain Spoken" the big beat shuffle of "Lawless Times" and the fiddle-fueled angst of "Troubled Man." He was four songs in before pulling out the first hit, "Small Town," but the crowd was already with him. It stayed with him as he covered Robert Johnson's "Stones in My Passway," Mellencamp reaching way up for notes and grinning at the end.

The rowdiness really started to build as he sang "Check It Out." "Getting too drunk on Saturdays / Playin' football with the kids on Sundays / "Soarin' with the eagles all week long / And this is all that we've learned about livin.'"

That's part of his appeal a down home philosophy that appeals to blue collar people and inspires them to raise some Cain. "Rain on the Scarecrow" was a blast of rock with lyrics about a failed family farm. Show closer "Cherry Bomb" was about reminiscence, Mellencamp introducing it by noting that "people love to talk about old times."

He gave them some more of them to talk about.

Opening act Carlene Carter had plenty of old times to recount, having grown up the daughter of June Carter Cash, step-daughter of Johnny Cash and granddaughter of country music founding "Mother" Maybelle Carter. Carter, performing solo, played music from her most recent project, "Carter Girl," a tribute to the Carter Family era and its music, as well as from her own rocking past, opening a 44-minute set with her MTV-era number, "Every Little Thing."

Her voice is like a family heirloom, and her guitar picking style was reminiscent of Maybelle Carter's.

Mellencamp called her back out to help with the "Ghosts of Darkland County" numbers. Their harmonies made a listener wish for more of the same.
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« Reply #1 on: January 26, 2016, 02:18:53 pm »

What a show and memories. Drove 130 miles and was worth a 130 more. Awesome playlist and a great crowd who knew ever word (even the one rowdy guy referred to in this article).  This tour is Mellencamp at his best..... what a songwriter !!
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« Reply #2 on: January 26, 2016, 10:16:19 pm »

Anyone know what the VIP "special gift" is ?
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« Reply #3 on: January 27, 2016, 08:15:01 am »

Anyone know what the VIP "special gift" is ?

It was a Mellencamp branded laptop/messenger style bag. We are assuming at this point the items will all be the same for the packages this year since it's the same tour.

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