New York Post: Reaping What He Shows
07.12.2008 - By DAN AQUILANTE
July 12, 2008
After years of making hit music that often didn't get the respect it deserved,
John Mellencamp has become one of the eloquent elder statesmen of American rock.
At his Jones Beach one-night stand, the newly inducted Rock and Roll Hall of
Famer was totally at ease in his skin.
J.M. rocked harder than a 56-year-old grandfather with a bad ticker should - and
he treated fans with total respect.
That was evident in how balanced his set was and how it was sequenced to connect
the dots between characters such as Jack and Diane and the new faces from his
upcoming CD release, "Life, Death, Love and Freedom."
I've never seen Mellencamp play a bad concert, but this seaside show ranks as
one of the great gigs. It was a no-frills rock concert in which the man and his
band were the fireworks.
Considering the new record isn't due to hit stores until Tuesday, it was
surprising how hotly received the new tunes were with the audience.
When he played the new country-spirited "A Ride Back Home" - wherein Johnny M.
hitches a ride with Jesus - his voice took on a Merle Haggard twang. Then, with
a bold tom-tom drum base that conjured Sun Records' rockabilly, he and the band
raved through another new one, "My Sweet Love." Although the tunes are totally
different in feel and sound, they express the same kind of introspective look at
Then there were songs of politics and prejudice such as the oldie "Rain on the
Scarecrow" and the new "Jena," and the rebel music such as "Crumblin' Down" in
which Mellencamp's physical posture as he sang made him seem as if he was boxing
with an invisible foe.
Mellencamp is older and wiser, but he and his music have aged well because this
heartland icon is smart enough to remember to be like the teenage hero Jack in
his famous song - rebellious and cool. John Mellencamp is both.
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