Magnificent Concert - Never Over-Produced Production - Passionate Performace
by Miles Overn
The moment when the arena went dark and the massive screen at the back of the stage lit up commanded everyone’s attention. All the conversations about the myriad topics making up life for the thousands of gathered fans ceased instantly and all eyes went to the platform where John Mellencamp would soon deliver what would be one very special performance.
Many eyes darted back and forth looking for him to appear out of the wings and get right into it. Many others focused on what was starting to stream across the enormous screen that would act as a living canvas for an intimate peek into the heart and mind of a significant and beloved creative hero.
The film would last a full 25 minutes and was incredibly artistically conceived and realized. Short interviews with people who have been around Mellencamp for most or all of his career. Other clips of interviews with the man himself. All of it presented on a background and with images that suggested both ancient parchment and vintage film.
Mellencamp’s band worked their way onto the stage, and then John himself strode up to the mic, Fender Telecaster in hand, and they dug into “Lawless Times” from 2014’s Plain Spoken. 19 songs would be offered over the course of the night. A handful were from more recent albums, including “Easy Target” from last years Sad Clowns & Hillbillies and “Longest Days” and “John Cockers” from 2008’s Life, Death, Love and Freedom.
As well received as these current songs were, and they were well received, the more classic tunes that we’ve all come to know and love from his earlier albums repeatedly ignited the audience to the point of engulfing the arena in thunderous roars of shared delight.
They were all there. “Jack and Diane,” “Check It Out,” “Scarecrow,” “Paper In Fire,” “Crumblin; Down,” “Authority Song,” and “Pink Houses” all received totally fresh arrangements that wove throughout and became the fabric of the evening. After a short on-stage break on a totally darkened stage, Mellencamp finished off the night with “Cherry Bomb” and “Hurts So Good.”
The Kelowna stop of Mellencamp’s Sad Clowns & Hillbillies tour was a magnificent concert comprised of an expertly never over produced production combined with a passionate performance of some of the best songs of the last century and some pretty fine ones from this one as well. All delivered by a true artists’ artist who possesses a keen awareness of and connection with the common man.