Consequence Of Sound: The Bob Dylan Show Swings For The Fences In Washington, PA

By Matt Melis

Monday night’s Bob Dylan, John Mellencamp, and Willie Nelson concert at Consol Energy Park— home of the Washington Wild Things minor league baseball club — had the vibe of a festival. Each fan who clicked through the ballpark turnstiles had an act he or she was most eager to see. However, with three living legends on the bill, each artist’s contingent was at least curious and often enthused to check out the other sets. So, whether folks were there primarily to see a voice of a generation, a cougar, or a redheaded stranger, no camp of fans was even remotely considering ducking out early or wandering too far off while another icon took the stage.

I’ve never understood the frequent dismissal of John Mellencamp as a “poor man’s Springsteen.” While he may share common influences and even subject material with “The Boss,” Mellencamp definitely has the songwriting chops and hits to rival any act going and has made his indelible mark on modern rock music. Even if you can’t name a single Mellencamp song, you’ve undoubtedly heard a dozen or more of them countless times on the radio, in movies, and in commercials. So, given his importance to our musical vernacular, I was eager to finally see Mellencamp live for the first time. (Apparently, Tavis Smiley was also stoked, as he was present and filming for some reason during Mellencamp’s performance.)

While Mellencamp may be playing an abbreviated set on this tour, Monday’s show was neither short on hits nor energy. Classic rock staples like “Pink Houses”, “Crumblin’ Down”, and “Rain on the Scarecrow” sounded as good as ever, as did a solo, acoustic version of “Small Town”. For those seeking a rarity in the set, Mellencamp played “Take Some Time to Dream”, a simple but moving ballad, for only the third time ever live. A big part of the set’s appeal was how Mellencamp got his band involved in the fun. It’s clear that Mellencamp sees himself as part of a band, not as a solo act, and as a result, band members bounced around all over the stage and took their turns being spotlighted. If the Wiyos and Willie Nelson warmed the crowd up, it’s clear that Mellencamp and band kicked the evening into high gear.

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