12.12.2008 - John Mellencamp has completed his whirlwind month-long tour of Australia and New Zealand, and by all accounts it was a triumph. As a reviewer for The West Australian wrote of the tour-opening Nov. 15 “Evening on the Green” show at the Sandalford Winery in Caversham, “It would be easy to see John Mellencamp’s set simply as a collection of great songs. Here was a chance to apply metaphor to a body of work which still after all these years is pointedly relevant. But first, it was time to party a bit.”
Playing to as many as 10,000-plus fans each night, Mellencamp did indeed party down, to approximately 100,000 fans from the Sandalford show through the Dec. 7 tour finale at the Mudhouse Winery in Christchurch, New Zealand. The 12-show tour stops were in places Mellencamp had not visited in over 15 years—one reason, perhaps, as to why he was so talkative during the shows (especially regarding outgoing President Bush).
Tour highlights included his nightly performance of “I Need a Lover,” the song that essentially launched his career when it became a major hit in Australia ahead of Pat Benatar’s cover hit with the song in the U.S. “I’ve gotta play this song,” he explained each night on stage, “‘cause without it, I wouldn’t be here.” Mellencamp performed it Down Under in a shortened acoustic solo guitar version. He also performed “My Sweet Love” in duet form with his opening act Sheryl Crow.
Mellencamp’s young son Speck also came out at the end to play guitar on “Authority Song,” the set-closer until Mellencamp tacked on “Hurts So Good”—the first time he included the monster hit in concert since 2005. It served as a fitting end to his warmly-welcomed return to Australia and New Zealand.
“He may have 21 albums behind him, but Mellencamp is certainly no has-been,” concluded Western Australian Web site PerthNow. “He has grown beautifully into his music [and] this concert was a privilege to attend.”