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Author Topic: Ames Review and Photos  (Read 4680 times)
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« on: October 31, 2016, 11:21:25 pm »

John Mellencamp parades 40 years of hits at Ames show
By Matthew Leimkuehler

The opening line in John Mellencamp’s 1989 number “Pop Singer” boasts the line: “Never wanted to be no pop singer.”

And, in 2016, that sentiment still holds true with Mellencamp’s career-spanning rock ‘n’ roll live show. The singer-songwriting troubadour from Indiana performed to a nearly packed house of thousands who flocked to Stephens Auditorium in Ames to spend a night with the now 65-year-old icon.

Part of the “Plain Spoken” tour in support of his 2014 release of the same name, the show opened with back-to-back numbers from the record, “Lawless Times” and “Troubled Man.” He didn’t leave fans waiting for familiar tracks for long, diving into 1985 mega-hit “Small Town” third.

The romance of the song — off the acclaimed “Scarecrow” record — hit home with onlookers, who pumped fists and chanted loudly as each line ended with the words "small town." More than 30 years after the Farm Aid co-founder originally released it, small town pride still shines bright when Iowans hear the track.

The set continued to weave old and new as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member and his band — dressed to the nines — took the audience on a journey through his 40-year career. Tracks like 1983’s “Pink Houses,” “Crumblin’ Down” and “Authority Song” kept the crowd alive during the back-end of the set, while newer numbers such as 2014’s “Isolation of Mister," an acoustic rendition of 2008’s “Longest Days” and vaudevillian 1996 track "The Full Catastrophe" filled out the performance.

Mellencamp used his charm, idolized by women and envied by men, to chat with the crowd before a few of the night’s songs. The most poignant of these moments came during an acoustic rendition of “Jack & Diane,” which came at Mellencamp’s midway point on stage.

“Now this next song,” Mellencamp, who wore a suit jacket and black jeans for most of the show, said. “I don’t even know why I play it anymore. I think I play it because I know you want to hear it.”

The song’s opening chords were met with jovial approval — so much approval that the crowd wanted to burst into the song’s chorus early. The “Oh yeah, life goes on,” section comes after the second verse and Mellencamp reminded the crowd of this by stopping completely in the middle of the track.

“If we’re going to do this ... let’s at least do it in order,” he said during the pause.

The show faltered most in its length. Mellencamp performed a quick 90 minutes — with no encore — for fans, some of which paid more than $100 to get into the show. He and his band tore through 17 numbers across the singer’s 22 album discography during the performance. With less than a handful of shows left on the nearly two-year tour, it felt like a sprint — instead of a long run — through his years of work.

Carlene Carter, daughter of June Carter and stepdaughter of Johnny Cash, opened the show with 45 minutes and 10 songs of her southern charm. She spoke in length before each number, telling stories of growing up in country music’s famed Carter family. She mixed the set with Carter family covers and original numbers from her 2014 record, "Carter Girl."

She gave a quick nod to Iowa, where her first fan club started in 1985, before performing her closing number.

“You really blessed my heart, being from Iowa, y'all,” she said.

Mellencamp closed with 1987 hit “Cherry Bomb,” bringing the crowd together for one final sing-along.

“Thank you very much … goodnight,” he told the audience, bowing alongside his band.

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