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Mellencamp live: What to expect

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Mellncamp recording at Sun Studios
  • Mellncamp recording at Sun Studios
Here's why the new John Mellencamp tour is interesting: The set is broken into three distinct sections, allowing the singer to highlight the new No Better Than This album with a small band, his songwriting in the middle section, and the full-on rowdy rock that blasts last.

And a 60-minute film opens the show, providing depth and understanding to his new record.

Mellencamp at Clowes Hall (Monday, November 8 and at Hinkle Fieldhouse, November 11) - WHAT TO WATCH FOR:

The Opening act: a film As uncoventional as it may seem, the film that serves as the opening act may be a quietly brilliant move.

A grainy Super 8 film, It's About You, is a Kurt Markus-shot documentary about last year's minor league ballpark tour with Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson. It also includes the recording of the album No Better Than This, including visiting and cutting tracks at the First African Baptist Church in Savannah, Sun Studios in Memphis and Room 414 in the Gunter Hotel in San Antonio, where blues pioneer Robert Johnson recorded for three days in 1936.

The Concert Premise: A three-part performance, with a small band version, a solo section for Mellencamp, and a rocking third piece.

Highlights: It's all relative for each fan, but the smart buzz is about "Save Some Time to Dream," one of the singer's best, simplest, strongest songs in a long time. Part of the acoustic section, he told a story about his father at a recent show in St. Louis before playing it. A reworked "Cherry Bomb" has also been drawing notice. Old fans will love the third act.

The Venue: Clowes will be good because of acoustics, but I'm interested in the history of Hinkle Fieldhouse colliding with the iconic Indiana performer. One of the only big arenas that is booked so far, it will be a chance for Indianapolis to be a highlight of the tour. Or the show could be built for the small places and will be dwarfed and full of echo inside the old brick hall. With the band's resume, there should be no worries. Remember, Mellencamp was the guy who fought off the notoriously crappy acoustics at Conseco Fieldhouse, doubling the sound support that Springsteen had used when the Boss opened the venue with a less-than-stellar sound.

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