Goldenplec Irish Music Magazine: The Grand Canal Theater Dublin Show Review

Goldenplec Irish Music Magazine By Aiden Cuffe

Every time I see a legendary act I always approach the event with trepidation. There is always this fine line where the act will either be everything you hoped or badly left you down.

Tonight John Mellencamp joined the list of acts who not only came to town and met my expectations, but surpassed the performance I was expecting.

Johnny Cash’s – God’s Gonna Cut You Down plays as the lights dim to a low ebb. As the song finishes on the P.A. the crowd cheer wildly and the curtains draw back to reveal John and band who open with ‘Authority Song’.

Already there were people in the fully seated (and apparently fully sold out) venue up on their feet for a standing ovation. One song in and an ovation, I couldn’t help think the crowd were too kind but then some of these fans have been waiting a long time to see him live.

They rattled through some songs including the cover of ‘Death Letters’ John recorded (originally a Son House song) and Walk Tall which was one of my favourite tunes which he released as part of a Greatest Hits in 2004. One of two new songs added on to the greatest hits album.

He told a story about a nice guy on the street stopping him and asking him if he was playing any of his old stuff. He said he always likes to move forward. The guy requested that he play ‘Cherry Bomb’ which he then jumped into acapella. There has been mention of this acapella version at other shows so I wonder if that story was just used as a nice segway.

Around the middle of the show he hit his stride with ‘Easter Eve’ and then a folky version of ‘Jack and Diane’ which was an excellent take on his classic tune. Then he rolled into ‘Jacky Brown’ then ‘Longest Days’ and his classic hit ‘Small Town’. The crowd were in the palm of his hand and he controlled them effortlessly having them sing back the lyrics at his beck and call.

Closing out the show with ‘If I Die Sudden’ and ‘Pink Houses’ before finishing off by pulling a guy out of the crowd up on stage to sing ‘R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A’ with him. A standing ovation had been thoroughly earned and whilst there was no encore and he also didn’t play ‘Hurts So Good’ which I was particularly looking forward to hearing it turned out to be an absolute corker of a show.

There have been few acts I have seen who have commanded the respect of an older crowd in the manner John Mellencamp did. At shows where you have a giant pop act getting word for word responses from a young crowd it is expected as they are fanatical but many of this crowd may not have actively listened to John Mellencamp on a daily basis yet knew every word. You could see down the front so many wanted to get up and burst out into dance when certain songs were played. I had not anticipated this as previous shows by rock/pop legends have been muted crowds especially at fully seated events.

John Mellencamp changed that and has now provided me with a new benchmark to rate seated gigs by. An amazing gig in a quality new venue.