My days attending arena concerts are nearly over. The reasons are many – ticket prices are too high, yacky and/or drunk people behind you spend the whole evening talking/yelling at their friends/spilling beer on you. Turns out most of the artists I like play at smaller venues, so it’s been ok for a while.
But Mellencamp was in town this week, tickets were under $50, he was touring to support the first album to make the Billboard top ten that was recorded in mono since 1964, and he was playing in a small house (2500) and the latest album was very follky.
But all to no avail. Not all of his fans have grown up with him. Despite the fact that early in the show as people yelled out songs as if it were a piano bar, he said, “don’t worry, we’ll get around to the songs you want to hear.” That didn’t seem to prevent the people from behind us bellowing out “Jack and Diane” or Hurts so Good” at every quiet moment.
And when the band left the stage for about a 45 minute acoustic set with just John and his guitar, it was viewed more as “recess time” and time to chat mindlessly instead of listening to these great new songs. I felt bad for myself and bad for the performers that all they really cared about was the songs from 20 years ago. He didn’t quite go Dylan and make the songs unintelligible so people couldn’t recognize them, but he really substantially rearranged many of the hit songs to get rid of the arena-rock chords and make them either more country, rockabilly, or bluesy than the originals. It was nice that he brought back the accordion and fiddle for this tour as well. John was pretty low-key about his political thoughts this time around, with only one pointed remark to today’s politicians when he reminded us of the preamble to the constitution “We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare” He commented that while providing defense seemed to not be a problem, promoting for the general welfare of the people was forgotten.