Calgary Sun: R.O.C.K Of Ages
06.22.2012 - By Gerry Krochak -
Recent albums such as Life, Death, Love and Freedom and No Better Than This
have cemented his legacy as a singer-songwriter and purveyor of roots, folk and
But heíll still hit you with all the pop-rock hits from his peak in the í80s
and í90s ó and love it all just as much as his audience does.
Mellencampís Saddledome shows in semi-recent years were always enjoyable and
his reputation as a formidable live act has been well-earned.
From a fanís perspective, having the opportunity to see him in the intimate
surroundings of the fabulous Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium made last night
even more special ó despite things such as power outages.
More on that later.
During the first of two shows at the Jube, and following an intro tape of
Johnny Cashís Cut You Down, the 60-year-old heartland rock icon had the crowd
fully engaged early with a nifty mid-tempo interpretation of Authority Song from
í83s Uh-Huh album.
Many jumped to their feet singing or, at the very least, seat swaying.
Dressed in a black suit and white T-shirt, Mellencamp led his crack band
through the two steppinís trad-country of No One Cares About Me, which featured
longtime guitarist Mike Wanchic shredding the frets of his hollow-body Gretsch.
A simple, yet effective production of hanging white bulbs and small-town main
drag backdrop seemed perfect for the Indiana native and his tales of real life,
real people and working-class heroes.
Following a swampy blues foray, his five-piece core band swelling to seven
with the addition of violin and accordion, big cheers greeted past hits such as
Check It Out, Jack And Diane and Jackie Brown.
Perhaps fearing the worst at the beginning of a two-minute power outage, he
didnít miss a beat and began telling campfire stories of his grandmother.
Thatís a true pro!
This Must Be Heaven, a killer solo acoustic version of Small Town and the
dark electrified interpretation of Rain On The Scarecrow quickly got the show
back on track.
The main set had yet to conclude at press time, but on most shows this tour
Mellencamp has been hauling out Crumbliní Down, Pink Houses and R.O.C.K. In The
Opening the show was Canadian alt-folk, blues, rock and country veterans
Itís been 25 years since the landmark The Trinity Session was released and
Margo Timminsí voice remains smooth as silk.
Opening with Wrong Piano from the sprawling, four-album Nomad Series, the
band quickly segued into the dark, brooding and thoroughly enjoyable A Common
Disaster from its 1996 album, Lay It Down.
Late Night Radio and 3rd Crusade, a couple more new ones, set the table for
the groupís picture-perfect cover of Lou Reedís Sweet Jane, from the
aforementioned The Trinity Session.
Perhaps not the snappiest of openers for someone of Mellencampís ilk, all
these years later Cowboy Junkies remain an underrated Canadian treasure.