Let’s get some biased points immediately out of the way.
One: I am a native Hoosier who grew up in a small town. For those unfamiliar with the word, a Hoosier is a person from the state of Indiana.
Two: I have been a John Mellencamp fan since his “C” days. That translates to about 30-40 years! (Fans of Mellencamp need no definition of “C.”)
Three: I cannot exactly recall when I last saw Mellencamp perform live, except that it was years ago at an outdoor arena near Indianapolis, Ind.
Four: On Tuesday evening, July 21, 2015, I saw Mellencamp, from Bloomington, Ind., live at the Schnitzer Concert Hall in Portland, Ore., a stop on his Plain Spoken tour.
Five: You don’t need a light show, pyrotechnic display, or moving stage to have a fun ride!
Mellencamp opened his Plain Spoken set with a big, bad, ballsy blues number that would have made Big Mama Thornton proud! Now we in Portland, Ore., love us some blues so he had the audience hooked from the start. Personally, I’d like to see Mellencamp and his band perform more blues. They got it! Everyone knows that harmonicas and blues go together, right? But an accordion and a violin playing the blues? You bet it works! Portland’s Waterfront Blues Festival, Mr. Mellencamp?
For about two straight hours, Mellencamp and his band played songs spanning his 40-year career. I’m sure Mellencamp grows tired singing some of them, but the man knows his audience and chose the older selections well. Except, apparently, when we forgot a verse to a sing-along song from the eighties. Don’t tell me the Portland crowd was the only audience to do that! Mellencamp actually stopped the “ditty” to inform us of the forgotten verse!
And speaking of the audience. That was part of the fun. There were plenty of canes, walkers, wheelchairs, and sensible shoes. There was gray hair. There were bald heads, stomach paunches, and jiggly parts on display. There were also fit youngsters wearing tight jeans or several-inch high heels helping older folks not wearing their bifocals turn the flash off cell phones. In other words, an audience of about the same age as Mellencamp, but also an audience spanning generations. This credits Mellencamp’s appeal to audiences of all ages.
Without becoming too philosophical I believe Mellencamp’s staying power to his older fans demonstrates an ability to grow and mature with them – he wasn’t shy sharing his age, past escapades, and sentimental list of firsts. Likewise, we may want to hear those songs that make us remember where we were and what we were doing 30-40 years ago. Then again, we may also want to embrace music reflecting who we are today: older and, hopefully, wiser. As for the less mature fans? I know for a fact that some parents raised their kids on Mellencamp’s music. Of course, they want to see the performer they’ve grown up with!
If you have a chance, attend John Mellencamp’s Plain Spoken show. His voice is strong. The songs a marvelous blend of new and old tunes. The musicians multi-talented. The rhythms contagious. Everything a live concert should be.
Click mellencamp.com to find future concert dates.
Disclaimer: Joyce L. Bates received no form of compensation from any person or entity for writing or posting this blog entry.