(DTE Music Theatre, Clarkston, MI – July 9th, ’02)
When John Mellencamp comes to rock, he takes no prisoners. Which is why the pre-show rumor that he fired all his technicians due to their combined lack of abilities to get the show running on time isn’t that hard of a theory to dismiss. Taking the stage at 9.20pm, the crowd having been warmed up by songster Shannon McNally, Mellencamp quickly got his ‘Summer Work’ Tour underway with ‘Peaceful World’ and, quite surprisingly to all around, the classic ’Jack & Diane’.
Wearing a white T-shirt and blue jeans the casually-dressed American continued to encourage the crowd to sing via such songs as ’Paper and Fire,’ ‘Lonely Ol’ Night’ and ‘’Real Life’. Throughout the set Mellencamp continually struts the entire stage, stopping more than occasionally to sway to the sounds of the guitar play from longtime servant Mike Wanchic or his ever-present violinist, Miriam Sturm.
’Crumbin’ Walls’ is quickly followed by an acoustic version of ’Small Town’ and ’This Town’ as a huge American flag is lowered quietly behind them. Throughout the latter song everybody on stage takes the chance to sing, none more so than the aspiring black female backing singer Jenn Cristy that John has embedded back there. Man has that girl got soul !
As we head on through to the final third of the set, the inspiring ’R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.’ is brought to the fore and even split in the middle by a chanting session that seemingly consists solely of the line “I get lost” repeated over and over by John-boy. ’Feels So Good’ and ’Pink Houses’ bring the classic rock journey back onto the straight and narrow before he leaves stage right for the night.
But, of course, our favorite son will be back and within seconds the man returns with the encore finale song, ’Check It Out’ before finally saying goodnight for the last time.
Review by Russell A. Trunk