Classic rocker John Mellencamp had an especially fun moment with his 1982 hit
“Jack & Diane” during his concert Friday night at the Peabody Opera House.
“The next song I’ve been playing a long time. I don’t even know why I play it, except you love it.
“But I have to laugh. I remember what I was doing when I wrote it,” he said before singing.
The audience joined him instantly on the memorable song, though he admonished his fans for jumping to the catchy chorus way too quickly.
Dressed in an all-black, tailored suit that oozed style, Mellencamp and his show-off assembly of musicians that made up his band gave a fitting retrospective of his career that covered rock, country and more during the rollicking show.
Mellencamp opened the down-home, two-hour concert with “Lawless Times” and “Troubled Man,” two songs from his latest album, the very fine “Plain Spoken.”
“Thank you very much. I’m John Mellencamp,” he said, as if his self-identification was necessary.
He promised fans songs they know, songs they don’t know, songs they could sing along to and songs they could dance to, as he demonstrated that with a little jig all his own.
On Mellencamp’s musical menu was everything from new cuts to a blues cover to
the hits fans want most, though no “Hurts So Good” or “R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A. (A
Salute to ’60s Rock).”
At a still-young 63 and voice as raspy as ever, Mellencamp kept the crowd of mostly baby boomers on their feet for much of the evening through songs such as “Small Town,” “Human Wheels,” “Check It Out” and “The Full Catastrophe,” during which he slow dragged on a cigarette.
He honored blues great Robert Johnson with “Stones in My Passway” before going full acoustic, minus the band, during “Jack & Diane” and “Longest Days.”
Country singer Carlene Carter joined Mellencamp on two songs from his musical “Ghost Brothers of Darkland County” (which he co-wrote with horror author Stephen King), “Away From This World” and “Tear This Cabin Down.”
“Crumblin’ Down,” “Pink Houses” “The Authority Song” and “Paper in Fire” were among the songs near the bottom of the show that sent fans home with a Mellencamp hit parade in their heads. After some chatting about old times, he closed his show with a song about old times, “Cherry Bomb.”
Carter, daughter of June Carter Cash and stepdaughter of Johnny Cash, opened
with an intimate acoustic guitar set that drew from her album “Carter Girl,”
inspired by her musical lineage (the album includes some songs originally
recorded by the Carter Family).
Carter opened with her 1993 hit “Every Little Thing” and included “Little Black Train” from her latest album in her set, along with a song she wrote for Emmylou Harris.
She kept much of the set in the family. “Lonesome Valley 2003,” on which she switched to piano, was a poignant song about losing both her mother and Cash in that year. She also performed Cash’s “Will the Circle Be Unbroken.” The Carter Family’s “The Storms Are On the Ocean” was dedicated to those serving the country in the Armed Forces.
She recounted the story of a helicopter landing in her front yard and Kris Kristofferson getting out to see her stepfather. Carter later recorded “Black Jack David” for “Carter Girl,” which she performed here.