.

New Leg of John Mellencamp's Tour Kicks Off With Solo Acoustic Miniset and Country-Blues Combo

'If you're coming to hear the greatest hits, don't even come,' singer tells 'Rolling Stone'

February 4, 2011 9:00 AM ET
New Leg of John Mellencamp's Tour Kicks Off With Solo Acoustic Miniset and Country-Blues Combo
Paul Warner/WireImage

"If you're coming to hear the greatest hits, don't even come," John Mellencamp, who kicked off a 33-date run last night in Lowell, Massachusetts, tells Rolling Stone. For his first theater tour since 1997, Mellencamp is playing a two-hour-plus show that includes a solo acoustic miniset and a country-blues combo, before finishing with a full band.

"I have zero interest in walking into an arena and banging out those hits again," he says. "I'm 59 years old. and I look fucking ridiculous." Instead, he’s busting out rarities like 1989's "Jackie Brown" and covering Blind Willie McTell. Even his biggest songs are getting reworked: "Authority Song" got a rockabilly makeover, and "Jack and Diane" has become a country-swing tune.

Farm Aid 25: Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, Dave Matthews, Neil Young, Steven Tyler and More 

Instead of bringing along a warm-up band, Mellencamp is screening a documentary, It's About You, shot on the road during his tour with Bob Dylan in 2009. "I like the idea of people walking into the theater and a movie is playing," he says. "It'll be like those old Dick Clark Caravan of Stars revues."

Photos: Random Notes

The singer is touring off No Better Than This, his 25th album, which was recorded with producer T-Bone Burnett in historical locations like Sun Studio in Memphis, the First African Baptist Church in Savannah and a hotel room in San Antonio where Robert Johnson recorded. It’s received some of the best reviews of his career, which baffles Mellencamp.

“I write the same fuckin’ four songs over and over again,” he says. “It all depends on how we dress ‘em up.” Still, he admits he’s improved from his Nineties output. “When I was with a major label for 29 years, they looked at me as a singles hit maker. When you have that kind of pressure put on you, you tend to kind of accommodate people. But as my career went on in the Nineties I didn’t care abut making records. I made them, but I didn’t give a shit. It was just something I had to do.”

Rocker-Actor Couples: A History

As for the singer's upcoming plans, his decade-in-the-works musical Ghost Brothers of Darkland County – a collaboration with Stephen King – will premier at Atlanta's Alliance Theatre in 2012. Liv Ullmann is set to direct, Meg Ryan may star and the soundtrack is nearly done. Produced by T Bone Burnett, the LP will include tracks written by Mellencamp and sung by Kris Kristofferson, Elvis Costello and Rosanne Cash. "For Americana music," says Mellencamp, "it's about as different as Sgt. Pepper was for rock music."

Here are John Mellencamp’s full tour dates:

Feb. 4 - Waterbury, CT - Palace Theatre
Feb. 6 - Ottawa, ON - National Arts Centre
Feb. 9 - Toronto, ON - Massey Hall
Feb. 10 - Toronto, ON - Massey Hall
Feb. 15 - Washington, DC - DAR Constitution Hall
Feb. 18 - New York, NY - Radio City Music Hall  
Feb. 19 - New York, NY - Radio City Music Hall
Feb. 21 - Philadelphia, PA - Academy Of Music
Feb. 24 - Richmond, VA - Landmark Theatre
Feb. 26 - Columbia, SC - Township Auditorium
Feb. 27 - Atlanta, GA - Fox Theatre
Mar. 1 - Durham, NC - Durham Performing Arts Center
Mar. 3 - Ft. Lauderdale, FL - Broward Center
Mar. 4 - Clearwater, FL - Ruth Eckerd Hall
Mar. 5 - Jacksonville, FL – Times Union Center Moran Theatre
Apr. 1 - Grand Prairie, TX - Verizon Theatre
Apr. 2 - Austin, TX – Austin City Limits Live at The Moody Theatre
Apr. 3 - Houston, TX - Jones Hall for the Performing Arts
Apr. 6 - Denver, CO – Temple Buell Theatre
Apr. 8 - Los Angeles, CA - Nokia Theatre
Apr. 9 - San Francisco, CA - The Warfield
Apr. 12 - Seattle, WA - McCaw Hall at Seattle Center
Apr. 13 - Vancouver, BC - Orpheum Theatre
Apr. 15 - Edmonton, AB - Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium
Apr. 16 - Edmonton, AB - Norther Alberta Jubilee Auditorium
Apr. 19 - Saskatoon, SK - TCU Place
Apr. 22 - Regina, SK - Conexus Arts Centre
Apr. 23 - Regina, SK - Conexus Arts Centre
Apr. 25 - Winnipeg, MB - Centennial Concert Hall
Apr. 27 - Omaha, NE - Omaha Civic Music Hall
Apr. 28 - Ames, IA - Stephens Auditorium
 May 1 - New Orleans, LA - Jazz & Heritage Festival

The Setlist:

Authority Song
No One Cares About Me
Death Letter
John Cockers
Walk Tall
West End
Check it Out
Save Some time to Dream
Cherry Bomb
Delia
Don’t Need This Body
Right Behind Me
Jackie Brown
Longest Days
Easter Eve
Jack and Diane
Small Town
Scarecrow
Paper in Fire
The Real Life
What If I came Knocking
If I Die Sudden
No Better Than This
Pink Houses
Rock In The USA

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

prev
Music Main Next

blog comments powered by Disqus
Around the Web
Powered By ZergNet
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.

X

We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories

“Long Walk Home”

Bruce Springsteen | 2007

When the subject of this mournful song returns home, he hardly recognizes his town. Springsteen told Rolling Stone the alienation the man feels is a metaphor for life in a politically altered post-9/11 America. “Who would have ever thought we’d live in a country without habeas corpus?” he said. “That’s Orwellian. That’s what political hysteria is about and how effective it is. I felt it in myself. You get frightened for your family, for your home. And you realize how countries can move way off course, very far from democratic ideals.”

More Song Stories entries »
 
www.expandtheroom.com