red lights

Mellencamp Among Friends

Bradley Center
Oct. 8, 1999

John Mellencamp

Story and Photo by Phil Bonyata

Rock music's everyman, John Mellencamp came to town last night to the delight of the temporary inhabitants of the Bradley Center.
Kicking of with "Jack and Diane," Mellencamp proved to be an authentic, live storyteller. He enunciates each emotional nuance and change of the lyrics so that the audience embraces his simple poetry. Mellencamp is actually an underrated poet and storyteller. His music is founded in the hearts and souls of the common folk, the salt of the earth. He writes a fictional document of the trials and tribulations of small town rural America. As it's identity continues to erode through the proliferation of corporate farms and a Wal-mart on every street corner, Mellencamp provides a living record of a life that will probably vanish in our lifetimes. His lyrics ring with an honest simplicity and an empathy that this boy from Indiana did indeed walk in their shoes. He and the band tied it all together with catchy hooks and memorable choruses.
On the bouncy "Paper in Fire" John roamed both sides of the stage, raising his arm every time the chorus would start and lower it at every finish. Probably an imaginary lever he pulls to increase the intensity. "Cherry Bomb" exploded onto the crowd with a blast and the memory of it only waned after the smoke cleared. Making sure to include the audience, John would thrust the mike their way for almost every chorus. He knows how to throw a party, virtually every song had a good portion of the Bradley Center dancing either in the aisles or bopping up and down on their seats.
Mellencamp closed the evening with the rural anthem "Pink Houses." As every person in attendance sang the last lines "Little pink houses for you and me!" he smiled and then saluted them as he sauntered off the stage, maybe a step slower than usual to soak in the genuine adulation from his many admirers.

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