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2012-06-26 at 23:34

R.O.C.K. in T.Bay

By Leith Dunick, tbnewswatch.com
91.5 CKPRWin Lunch with Danny and Laura for up to 20 people! Enter here to win on Thunder Bays Best Music 91.5 CKPRClick Here!

At this stage of his career, rocker John Mellencamp has nothing to prove to anyone.

But on Tuesday night, the 61-year-old singer proved himself all over again, taking his Fort William Gardens fans on a trip through his own personal rock-and-roll history, Indiana-style.

Mellencamp, on a cross-Canada tour, thrilled the crowd with a hits-laced setlist, covering most of his well-known ditties in a show that lasted more than 90 minutes.

He launched the show with the fast-paced, dance-hungry Authority Song, a no-nonsense start to a stripped-down show worthy of a true American storyteller.

It took the nearly sold-out crowd awhile to warm up to Mellencamp, but six songs in he got them on their feet with Check it Out, from his 1988 album The Lonesome Jubilee.

Then it was down to business.

The lights dimmed, he rolled up his sleeves, turned his back to the audience and walked slowly to the back of the stage, where he grabbed a guitar, turned to face his fans and spoke to them for the first time all night.

“Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. I’m John Mellencamp. We’ve come 10 million miles to see you and perform tonight,” he said, promising a raucous evening of music ahead.

“There’ll be some you don’t know, some you do know.

“We’re going to start by doing an old favourite of everybody’s. If you know it, sing along.”

A campfire, sing-along version of his 1982 hit Jack and Diane ensued, with Mellencamp gladly giving way to the crowd for the chorus, the crowd eagerly eating up the opportunity to fill in the gaps.

His adoring followers were ready for a string of hits to come, but Mellencamp, influenced by the likes of Bob Dylan, Woodie Guthrie and Buddy Holly, had other plans first.

Oh, the singles would come, but first he paid tribute to his grandmother, who lived to the ripe old age of 100, regaling the crowd with a tale of how she never called him John, only referring to him as Buddy. One day she asked him to pray with her, which he did.
All of a sudden, her voice got louder, Mellencamp said.

“She said, ‘Me and Buddy are ready to come home.’ 'Well Grandma,” he answered, 'Buddy is not really ready to come home. Buddy has a lot more singing to do.'"

But before she died, she gave him a piece of advice.

“One of these days, you’re going to find out this life is short, even in its longest days,” Mellencamp’s cue to rip into Longest Days, the lead song off his critically acclaimed 2008 album Life, Death, Love and Freedom, a song he later dedicated to filmmaker Nora Ephron, who died Tuesday at age 71.

Then the hits started rolling.

Bathed in blue, Mellencamp laid forth his ode to rural America, Small Town, which quickly led into a rip-roaring, crowd-swaying version of Scarecrow, followed by the equally hot Paper and Fire. After a short dip back into his extensive catalogue, the rocker found his second wind and finished strong.

Crumblin’ Down brought the aging house to its feet, but not to the ground, Pink Houses satiated its appetite for Mellencamp’s best and after thanking his band, he closed with R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A and Cherry Bomb, sending ticket buyers streaming into the streets plenty satisfied, despite the dismal Gardens acoustics.

Mellencamp certainly left out a few favourites, including Hurts So Good, Dance Naked and AIn’t Even Done With the Night, but with his extensive catalogue, no set list could cover it all.

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homelessteen says:
I must have been at a different concert than the on described in the article.

I am a big fan of his and left the concert feeling like the party never started.

In my opinion it was a big let down.
6/26/2012 11:51:24 PM
elvis2010 says:
Don't know what concert you were at but the one I went to tonight was excellent, just wished he came out for an encore so we could have heard more. Sure felt like I left with more than mine and my wife's money's worth!
6/27/2012 12:52:28 AM
Me n My Opinion says:
Couldn't have said it better myself Elvis2010. I'm a huge fan - have been for 30 years, and last night was awesome. I loved the acoustic Jack and Diane. Just wish Hurts so Good could have been an encore song. The only thing that really disappointed me was that it ended!!
6/27/2012 8:38:10 AM
vimeo says:
I have to agree. I'm a huge fan, and it seemed more like a lounge show. Perhaps we were spoiled when Bryan Adams was here a few weeks ago. He really rocked the place.

Plus, I'm not a fan of having the artist point the mic and have us sing the chorus to the big hits. We came to hear him sing it, not the out of tune people next to me.

The opening intro was a bit over the top too. After all that whining, I was still glad I finally got to see him in our Small Town.
6/27/2012 1:00:34 AM
maggie says:
I have been to concerts at the Fort,Auditorium, and Gardens most recently Brian Adams, Now that was a show. Yet with Brian and Katie Lang who put on excellent shows no write ups or pictures about their shows. Now we get Mellencamp plastered in the paper and none stop songs on the radio and the show was the worst I have ever seen. So much so we left early. I could have sat home and heard all his hits for nothing compared to what he played. The opening act nearly put me to sleep,we had to feel our way around to get to our seats, the stage and lighting looked like something from a school play. Very disorganized. He might be a big star but Brian Adams put him to shame.
6/27/2012 7:16:23 AM
DougMyers says:

Her name is K.D. Lang, not Katie Lang.
6/27/2012 9:53:54 AM
analyst1 says:
I agree 100% with vimeo - it was not an arena show - it was a Grand Portage show. And that has nothing to do with the stripped down set - it was just not the rockin' show that the majority of the audience (like myself) expects and he could still deliver if he wanted to. I have seen him live before and it was 10x better than this. Like many older artists, he just chooses to do his own thing and that is not worth $90. This was a 6/10 at best. Too slow paced, too short, mediocre band (except awesome bass player), and too many hits missing. You can't take this review seriously. He gets free seats up front and his employer promotes concerts. No chance of an unbiased negative review from him.
6/27/2012 7:36:53 AM
udecide says:
Come on it's Thunder Bay let's sue this band
6/27/2012 7:47:39 AM
justsayin' says:
I really missed Hurts So Good, wish he would have played it.....would have been a great encore. I was somewhat let down.
6/27/2012 8:28:53 AM
sc says:
Fantastic concert! An amazing performance by John Mellencamp and his phenomenal musicians!
6/27/2012 9:03:39 AM
RealityCzech says:
An encore would have been nice and would have been a way to show his appreciation for the years of support Mellencamp has received over the past 30-plus years.

Hurt So Good, Not Even Done With The Night, Emotional Love all could have been included in an encore.

The sound was muddy, not at all the quality that the Bryan Adams concert provided.

However as a performer, Mellencamp could teach George Thorogood a thing or two. At least his stage presence did not feel forced and insincere like Thorogood's who appears to follow a script and never wavers from the script.

Apparently hundreds of attendees did not check their tickets for the start time of the concert as there was a steady stream of patrons coming and going during the entire Cowboy Junkies set.
6/27/2012 9:07:21 AM
elvis2010 says:
You know this city is getting more and more pathetic by the day. We get a great show like Mr. Mellencamp put on last night and, in typical T. Bay fashion, people come on here and do nothing but b&%ch and whine. I guess people around here have never heard of the old saying, "If you don't have anything nice to say then don't say anything at all!" I am only 37 but man I miss the "old days". Nothing but whiners and babies in today's world.
6/27/2012 9:15:16 AM
Sui Generis says:
People held contrary opinions back then, too.

Look, you enjoyed the show. Great. Some people didn't. If you can't handle people voicing differing opinions, perhaps it would suit you better to avoid online forums altogether.
6/27/2012 10:04:54 AM
Tom Sanderson says:
Elvis2010 is correct in his observation. You too are correct in you opinion.
Opinions are like orgasms...the only important one is mine:)
You'll never win the war against the negative brigade Elvis2010. But don't follow the old saying "If you can't beat them, join them".
6/27/2012 11:25:03 AM
TBDR says:
I prefer, "if you can't beat em, pay someone to do it for you." :p
6/28/2012 2:57:34 PM
unionbay880 says:
Hey Elvis, you do know you're complaining about how much you hate to hear people complain? I guess now I'm kind of complaining about your complaining about complaining.

This could go on forever, like looking into a mirror in front of a mirror.
6/27/2012 2:57:53 PM
tbayleafer says:
Remember people over 30 years have gone by and yes John has mellowed but his voice and sound was perfect. One of the best bands and musical performances i've seen in a long time! He could sell out the big areana's in Toronto and Minneapolis if he wanted but you could tell from where i was sitting he loves the more intimate settings and connecting with the audience.Great show!!
6/27/2012 9:21:43 AM
lonewolf9 says:
You can go to a Border Cats game to hear "Hurts So Good." They play it everytime a Cats batter gets hit by a pitch! Lol.
6/27/2012 9:51:11 AM
sc says:
Fantastic concert! An amazing performance by John Mellencamp and his phenomenal musicians!
6/27/2012 10:53:24 AM
unknowncronic says:
Nothin' Matters And What If It Did...
6/27/2012 11:21:15 AM
Geraldtonian says:
First of all I would like to start by saying I paid 100 dollars for my ticket for a rock artist I listened to growing up Looking forward to this concert and night out since April although he sounded great I can't believe he didnt play hurt so good as well only an acoustic of Jack and Diane UNBELIEVABLE I stood and the end of the concert waiting for an encore while they packed up the stage in disbelief.. I pretty much paid for those songs and could not believe he didnt play them.
Secondly what is with the gardens not serving a beer ITS A ROCK CONCERT!! for god sake this town needs to learn to have a little fun. People wonder why everyone spends there money in other cities like minni.. brutal!
6/27/2012 12:15:59 PM
realist says:
Considering most of the people around me where already drunk, there really was no reason to serve alcohol.
6/27/2012 2:43:01 PM
mercy mercy me says:
like Steve Miller sings...oh,oh, take the money and run
6/27/2012 3:43:16 PM
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