The Walls Came Crumblin’ Down at the Louisville Palace Friday night as Rock and Roll Hall of Famer John Mellencamp came into the Derby City for a two-hour show.
Mellancamp is a local legend, having grown up just a few minutes north in Seymour, IN and even filmed parts of his videos around the area (Pink Houses filmed portions in Little York and Vallonia) and making one of his homes in Bloomington, IN where he can be seen at IU Basketball games, shopping at the College Mall or eating at various restaurants around town.
The 63-year-old Mellencamp continues to inspire and draw a crowd as he performed Friday night at a sold-out Louisville Palace. One of the great things about Mellencamp is that he doesn’t just show up and perform – he seems to enjoy it and have fun performing the music he’s written and arranged. He’s as much actor as musician – as much showman as tune smith.
He opened the 20 song set with “Lawless Times” and “Troubled Man,” then when rocked out the house with “Minutes to Memories” and “Small Town” he had us all in the palm of his hand for the rest of the night.
At first, when Mellancamp added fiddle music to his music in 90s, I wasn’t sure what to think but over time it grew on me and the other millions of fans. His show Friday featured the fiddle player, a very versatile musician on keyboard and piano and a bass player who jumped onto the standup bass for Mellancamp’s version of the Robert Johnson cover “Stones in My Passway.”
Through the next five songs, Mellancamp proved he was more than the “Small Town” boy who grew into a rock and roll hall of famer and also. But then he went back to more familiar ground and really wowed the crowd with a slow, grinding version of “Jack and Diane” and ended with four straight hits from his early days – “Crumblin’ Down,” “Authority Song”, “Pink Houses” and the finale – “Cherry Bomb”.
Though Mellencamp’s moved from his arena performances to more intimate locations like the Louisville Palace, he was able to bring the house to its feet for most of the night to dance, swing and sway to his band’s versions of songs we’ve all jammed to in the car for two decades. In fact, his rhythm guitar player has been with him through that entire journey.
Carlene Carter, the opening act, joined Mellancamp on stage for two songs they had done together for the Stephen King collaboration, Ghost Brothers of Darkland County “Away From This World” and “Tear This Cabin Down.”
Carter sang alone for most of her meager time on stage but was joined on stage for two numbers by her husband, Joseph Breen.
She played mostly songs from her most recent album, “Carter Girl,” a collection of music recorded by The Carter Family beginning in the late 20s. The Carter Family was one of the original families of Country Music and the crowd responded well to the older songs, including some gospel.
There were no encores and the 20 set show left us wanting more – including what would have been an awesome encore set with – “R.O.C.K. in the USA” and other favorites – “Hand to Hold On To”, “Hurts So Good,” “Ain’t Even Done with the Night” and the newer “Wild Night” were nowhere to be found.
At the end of the night, what we got was great and I’m sure we all went home listening to Mellancamp on our phones – hoping for the next time we could gather and enjoy him live in concert.