Mellencamp Shines; Cleveland
May 28, 2023
John Mellencamp came to Cleveland for a two night performance at Playhouse Square.
The evening began with some clips of classic films with some footage of Mellencamp discussing the films, his paintings and his songs.
After the third clip was being shown, some audience members started yelling at the screen, demanding that the band take the stage.
Like they were going to stop the film because people were yelling. Right then, I should have known this was not going to be a pleasant crowd.
Mellencamp and his great backing band did hit the stage with "John Cockers" from his Life, Death , Love and Freedom album.
After three great tunes, "Paper In Fire," "Minutes To Memories" and "Small Town," Mellencamp addressed the crowd to tell them what the evening was going to consist of. He said, "We're going to play some songs you know, some songs you don't know." He continued on saying he was going to tell some stories, play songs that you can sing along to and maybe make you think. He noted, "this isn't a concert, it's more of a performance."
One unrulely fan decided to shout, "Play the fucking music." Which stopped Mellencamp mid sentence and made him retort, "And I don't like people screaming from the fucking audience." He then asked his son, Hud to "help quite that guy down."
After that, things went on as normal until the band left and Mellencamp went into his acoustic part of the set. He began telling a story of a homeless woman he met in Portland, Oregon. In the middle of the story another fan yelled out "play your fucking guitar."
This infuriated Mellencamp. He responded by saying "Hey you guys, if these people don't shut the fuck up, I'm just going to leave, OK?" He went on, "If I wanted to play in this type of drunken environment, I'd play outside or I'd play in an arena. I choose to play in theaters because I want a human connection."
After that, the show continued flawlessly.
John was able to tell stories about his grandmother, who lived to be 100 and the relationship they had. He also spoke about becoming friends with Joanne Woodward after Paul Newman passed away. He noted that he recorded her speaking his lyrics to some of his songs. Like she was telling a story or reading a poem.
He brought his violinist and accordian player to center stage to accompany Mrs. Woodward speaking Mellencamp's "The Real Life." It was a highlight of the show.
The rest of the band came back to the stage to rock out.
"Lonely Ol' Night," "Crumblin' Down" with a little bit of "Gloria" thrown in and "Pink Houses" got the audience up on their feet.
The show closed with "Cherry Bomb" and "Hurts So Good."
It was a great performance by one of America's best songwriters.
A little ditty indeed.
Photos and review by Greg Drugan