Stephanie Hollman - The Dakota Student
On Friday night, the Chester Fritz Auditorium was packed to its capacity with
a crowd anxiously waiting for Grammy-Award winning musician John Mellencamp, on
the last show of his 15-show Plain Spoken Tour featuring Americana singer
As the opening act, Carter not only entertained with her musical talent, but also managed to tug at the heartstrings of the audience with personal anecdotes about her memories that added to the depth of her performance. This made the fully packed, 2,400 seat auditorium feel more like a small, intimate performance rather than a generic concert at a huge venue.
Almost every song of the night was dedicated to someone. She paid a touching tribute to her late mother, June Carter Cash, with “Lonesome Valley 2003,” which is dedicated to the men and women serving in the armed forces. Carter personally showed her appreciation for the audience before singing a few more hits, including the fan-favorite hit, “Every Little Thing.”
The audience supported the musician with standing ovations and rounds of applause when she opened up about some of hardest times of her life due to the deaths of her mother, stepfather and younger sister. Her endurance through these tough times led to her appropriately titled album “Stronger.”
Despite her illustrious musical career and reputation as a country music idol, Carter’s performance was raw, entertaining and personal. She even spent intermission at her merchandise table, not to pilfer sales for CDs and t shirts, but to get to know her audience, take pictures and have one-on-one conversations with the singer about her music.
Carter and her thoroughly entertaining opening act was the perfect setup for John Mellencamp’s final performance. Following a brief 15-minute intermission, Mellencamp strutted onstage to his hit “Lawless Times,” with his signature confidence and his charismatic six-man band.
“Some songs you know, some songs you don’t know, some you can dance to, and some you can sing along to.”
And that, he did. During his entire performance, Mellencamp kept the audience either dancing with each other on their feet or belting their hearts out along to his infectious lyrics. The entire auditorium was electric with energy and went wild when Mellencamp sang his more famous songs, especially “Jack and Diane.”
Though his 20-song lineup was packed with rock-and-roll entertainment, Mellencamp also displayed his award-winning talents as a lyricist with the slower songs that were clearly fan favorites, as he had everyone in the audience holding hands and singing along to “Small Town” and “Longest Days.”
Carter returned onstage mid-show to join Mellencamp in singing “Indigo Sunset” and “My Soul’s Got Wings,” which was delivered so well by the two artists. The marriage of Carter’s bluesy voice and Mellencamp’s more signature rock stylings blended together perfectly, and it couldn’t have been better performed by the entire crowd.
Their performance was a preview of the album that the two are scheduled to release in 2017, and it promises nothing but pure enjoyment for the listener and pure artistic expression from the artists—nothing that the duo is short of, as proved by their final concert of the Plain Spoken Tour.