Lehigh Valley Music Blog: Mellencamp Hits Home Run

By John Moser

In a ballpark, it was appropriate that John Mellancamp hit a home run tonight.

With a six-piece band, he scorched the field, kicking out of the gate with a hard-rocking “Pink Houses,” warmed by accordion, and a dream-like and introspective “Paper in Fire” with violin.

He did a slow burn, alone on acoustic guitar for “Don’t Need This Body,” from his wonderful 2008 disc “Life Death Love and Freedom,” which he introduced as “a song for my generation,” and was joined by just violin and accordian for a wonderful “Small Town.” For that song he laughingly changed the lyrics to note that his wife, model Elaine Irwin – a Gilbertsville native -- was 13 when he wrote it.

The band returned then for a kicking, ominous “Rain on the Scarecrow.”

In all, he did three songs from “Life Death Love and Freedom” in a 12-song, hour-long set. A grooving “Troubled Land” rocked harder than on the disc, with a swirling organ. Also hard rocking was the disc’s “If I Die Sudden.”

When he sang a hard-rocking “Crumbling Down,” he was so emphatic he was nearly yelling. The audience was dancing and cheering.

But the highlight was an amazing “Check it Out.” With haunting violin and accordion, it raised more chills than the night air. He led the audience in handclaps over their heads and jumped and threw a fist to the crowd at the end.

He closed with “Authority Song” a tune he said was “pretty juvenile,” but said he feels the same way today as when he wrote it. He burned into it. It was honest, and it was scorching.

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