Originally published on National Rock Review.
By Brandon Nagy, April 11, 2019
The John Mellencamp Show tour made a stop in Saginaw this past Thursday at the Dow Event Center theater. The show started off with a brief and gritty 20+ minute video setting the tone for the evening. The intro was artistic and reflective on old times, recounting Mellencamp’s music history, and career and personal struggles, as well as elements of his rock star success and midwestern roots and the stories about the kind of folks he sings about.
When the video ended the lights went out and the band took the stage to thunderig applause and a standing ovation. The show began with an energetic performance of “Lawless Times,” leading into “Troubled Land,” “Minutes to Memories” and “Small Town.” Indeed, his greatest hits weren’t just saved just to the end, they were sprinkled throughout his two-hour show and included “Jack & Diane,” “Pink Houses” and others.
The rock show wasn’t just all high-energy and gasoline though. Mellencamp made a deal with the audience early on that there would be a time when he would want everyone to quite down so he can speak. Save for a few moments of excited hecklers shouting praise, to which he laughed and said “Shut the F up” (multiple times!), he recalled a story about the wisdom given to him by his grandmother (who didn’t like his habit of swearing) and gave the audience an acoustic performance with “Longest Days.”
The show had its political moment, too, with “Easy Target,” where an outspoken Mellencamp pointed out what he views as the major injustices of our era and took a knee at the end of his song. However, that was about the only time during the show anyone wasn’t standing! From there, kicking the energy of the night up several notches, the band played “Crumbling’ Down” and the “Authority Song” to which the audience was dancing to and impressively singing along.
Mellencamp and his band, closed out their show with no encore, but with “Cherry Bomb” sighting the privilege of being old is having good stories about old times.
Check out a few of my shots below and click on any photo to launch a full screen gallery!