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Rolling Stone Magazine: New Leg of Tour Kicks Off With A Solo Acoustic Miniset & A Country Blues Combo
02.04.2011 - Rolling Stone Magazine By Patrick Doyle

If you're coming to hear the greatest hits, don't even come," John Mellencamp, who kicked off a 33-date run last night in Lowell, Massachusetts, tells Rolling Stone. For his first theater tour since 1997, Mellencamp is playing a two-hour-plus show that includes a solo acoustic miniset and a country-blues combo, before finishing with a full band.

"I have zero interest in walking into an arena and banging out those hits again," he says. "I'm 59 years old. and I look fucking ridiculous." Instead, he’s busting out rarities like 1989's "Jackie Brown" and covering Blind Willie McTell. Even his biggest songs are getting reworked: "Authority Song" got a rockabilly makeover, and "Jack and Diane" has become a country-swing tune.

Instead of bringing along a warm-up band, Mellencamp is screening a documentary, It's About You, shot on the road during his tour with Bob Dylan in 2009. "I like the idea of people walking into the theater and a movie is playing," he says. "It'll be like those old Dick Clark Caravan of Stars revues."

The singer is touring off No Better Than This, his 25th album, which was recorded with producer T-Bone Burnett in historical locations like Sun Studio in Memphis, the First African Baptist Church in Savannah and a hotel room in San Antonio where Robert Johnson recorded. It’s received some of the best reviews of his career, which baffles Mellencamp.

“I write the same fuckin’ four songs over and over again,” he says. “It all depends on how we dress ‘em up.” Still, he admits he’s improved from his Nineties output. “When I was with a major label for 29 years, they looked at me as a singles hit maker. When you have that kind of pressure put on you, you tend to kind of accommodate people. But as my career went on in the Nineties I didn’t care abut making records. I made them, but I didn’t give a shit. It was just something I had to do.”

As for the singer's upcoming plans, his decade-in-the-works musical Ghost Brothers of Darkland County – a collaboration with Stephen King – will premier at Atlanta's Alliance Theatre in 2012. Liv Ullmann is set to direct, Meg Ryan may star and the soundtrack is nearly done. Produced by T Bone Burnett, the LP will include tracks written by Mellencamp and sung by Kris Kristofferson, Elvis Costello and Rosanne Cash. "For Americana music," says Mellencamp, "it's about as different as Sgt. Pepper was for rock music."

Here are John Mellencamp’s full tour dates:

Feb. 4 - Waterbury, CT - Palace Theatre
Feb. 6 - Ottawa, ON - National Arts Centre
Feb. 9 - Toronto, ON - Massey Hall
Feb. 10 - Toronto, ON - Massey Hall
Feb. 15 - Washington, DC - DAR Constitution Hall
Feb. 18 - New York, NY - Radio City Music Hall
Feb. 19 - New York, NY - Radio City Music Hall
Feb. 21 - Philadelphia, PA - Academy Of Music
Feb. 24 - Richmond, VA - Landmark Theatre
Feb. 26 - Columbia, SC - Township Auditorium
Feb. 27 - Atlanta, GA - Fox Theatre
Mar. 1 - Durham, NC - Durham Performing Arts Center
Mar. 3 - Ft. Lauderdale, FL - Broward Center
Mar. 4 - Clearwater, FL - Ruth Eckerd Hall
Mar. 5 - Jacksonville, FL – Times Union Center Moran Theatre
Apr. 1 - Grand Prairie, TX - Verizon Theatre
Apr. 2 - Austin, TX – Austin City Limits Live at The Moody Theatre
Apr. 3 - Houston, TX - Jones Hall for the Performing Arts
Apr. 6 - Denver, CO – Temple Buell Theatre
Apr. 8 - Los Angeles, CA - Nokia Theatre
Apr. 9 - San Francisco, CA - The Warfield
Apr. 12 - Seattle, WA - McCaw Hall at Seattle Center
Apr. 13 - Vancouver, BC - Orpheum Theatre
Apr. 15 - Edmonton, AB - Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium
Apr. 16 - Edmonton, AB - Norther Alberta Jubilee Auditorium
Apr. 19 - Saskatoon, SK - TCU Place
Apr. 22 - Regina, SK - Conexus Arts Centre
Apr. 23 - Regina, SK - Conexus Arts Centre
Apr. 25 - Winnipeg, MB - Centennial Concert Hall
Apr. 27 - Omaha, NE - Omaha Civic Music Hall
Apr. 28 - Ames, IA - Stephens Auditorium
May 1 - New Orleans, LA - Jazz & Heritage Festival

The Setlist:

Authority Song
No One Cares About Me
Death Letter
John Cockers
Walk Tall
West End
Check it Out
Save Some time to Dream
Cherry Bomb
Don’t Need This Body
Right Behind Me
Jackie Brown
Longest Days
Easter Eve
Jack and Diane
Small Town
Paper in Fire
The Real Life
What If I came Knocking
If I Die Sudden
No Better Than This
Pink Houses
Rock In The USA
She's So Tough



Keep Rolling The Rock Up The Hill

As a longtime fan, 30+ years, I have found this tour refreshing and artistic. The first leg of the tour kicked off in Bloomington on Oct 29, 2010 and the website was posting articles at that time with John's every intent of making this an artistic show, even posting the format of the show...stripped down acoustic with the band, solo acoustic and wrapping up with a classic rocking set. John has done just that. He has increased the show from prior years to include a 2+ hour set. As far as the arrangements of the songs, John has been changing it up to keep it fresh for more years than I can remember. There was a time period when Moe Z MD (no longer with the band), keyboards, had an influence on the arrangements, in my opinion, and I had to endure listening to "Jack and Diane" as a rap song during one tour. Wasn't my favorite version, but it certainly never kept me from coming back the next time. I love the fact John is always keeping the songs fresh, relevant to today. I think John's last two records are true indicators as to where he is headed with his music. Americana. He more or less influenced this genre of music when he introduced fiddles and accordions along with rock instruments ala "The Lonesome Jubilee." John has said so many times in past interviews he always is rolling the rock up the hill. This show is a prime example, and I love it that he's pushing the envelope!

Posted by sugarmarie_1980 2011-02-08 10:52:16.


I agree with Sad. Funny, I put up posts on each one of the articles and on the Lowell Show, they are gone. I guess Mellencamp doesn't want to hear it when someone doesn't like his concert. So disappointed with the Lowell show and felt duped that the Rolling Stone article came out after the show. I never would have bought tickets had we known what he was going to do. The fans made you famous John, don't be so arrogant to think that you still don't need them. I like some of your new music, hate what you have done to your old stuff. I went to the concert to escape every day life and all that goes along with it, left there feeling depressed and sad, never again.

Posted by kviveiros 2011-02-07 15:54:37.


If Mr. Mellencamp is going to tell me straight up that "If you're coming to hear the greatest hits, don't even come," then I won't come. If he has "zero interest in walking into an arena and banging out those hits again," then he can play his dour old-man music for someone else. His songs from the '80s were a part of the soundtrack of my youth, and to say that he looks "ridiculous" when he plays them is to suggest that I'm ridiculous for wanting him to play them. Those songs that he wrote and performed when he was "with a major label" and it was just something he "had to do" are the songs that I paid money to hear when I purchased those albums, and for him to poo-poo that era of his music is insulting to me as a fan.

Posted by troykelso 2011-02-07 05:49:36.


As a fan for 30 years, listening to mostly oldies, I can honestly say I was pleasantly surprised. He is such a talented writer and performer and has still got it! The Lowell Memorial Auditorium was a great place to see him for the first time ! The new songs were deep and heartfelt and the old songs were awesome as usual! His voice and his band was amazing! My favorite part was the acoustic set. There are not too many artists who could pull that off. There is so much new John Mellencamp music that I didn't know about! Check it out!

Posted by fan4ever 2011-02-06 10:16:10.

Great Opening Night!

Wow! I can't believe anyone could complain after attending a remarkable show in Lowell MA the other night! If you've been paying any attention to the stripped down, stark nature of Mellencamps' music for the last 4-5 years and he announces that his tour will be more focused on acoustic arrangements then you should expect exactly that. My wife and I went to the cozy Lowell Auditorium ready for a show focused on "No Better Than This", Life,Death, Love and Freedom" and " Freedom Road". The fact that he actually played so many of his hits, with great new arrangements, and brought along his kick-ass band was the cherry on top of a great night! If you want to see an artist that is still making relevant music 35 years into his career than the Mellencamp tour is a must see. If you just want to hear a greatest hits revue then go see Aerosmith, The Stones or Paul McCartney!!

Posted by dhynes 2011-02-05 13:38:36.

Disappointed 2

Went to lowell last night to see the concert. My wife bought the tickets for a christmas gift. It was not what i expected since i have been to other JCM concerts and had a great time. The song set was a downer and not very motivating. I knew the words to the songs and could not quite understand the vocals.the bass was over pounding and I knew the sound system was inferior to other venues. The lighting was awful. Part of the band was playing in the dark. It seemed like there were amateurs working the controls. We actually left 45 minutes early. Why bother staying for that!. My wife thought she wasted her money buying 5 tickets. Stiil like most of the old stuff but definetly the last JCM concert for us. If there was a warm up band, they would have out shined Johnny Boy tonight. No rock and Roll here.

Posted by SEISAN 2011-02-04 18:55:21.


Just wanted to say I saw John last night in Lowell, MA. What a disappointing show. He should have come out with his article about the real John showing up, never would have spent the money. Loyal follower of 20 years, have seen you at least 12 times, never more disappointment in a show in my life. Last time I will go to one of your concerts. You lost a lot of followers last night, feel duped that you didn't specify what you were doing for the show when we purchased the tickets, if I saw that Rolling Stone article before I bought the tickets, I would have known better. Sad day, the Mellencamp I know is gone!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by kviveiros 2011-02-04 18:28:54.





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