When: Tue., March 1, 7 p.m. 2011
Being a native Hoosier myself, I've seen John Mellencamp at least a half-dozen times, from vast arenas to open fields to darkened auditoriums. While he can command crowds from any stage, it's in intimate settings, such as the 2,800-seat Durham Performing Arts Center, where Mellencamp best connects with his audience. He genuinely enjoys the exchange of energy, and his band never has an off night.
Although Mellencamp's recent songs seem to recycle some of the same chord progressions as his earlier body of work—and his consistent topic of aging is a little, well, old—it's tough to criticize the formula that brought us "Pink Houses," "Now More Than Ever" and "Paper in Fire." A documentary by Kurt Markus titled It's About You chronicles the creation of Mellencamp's latest record, No Better Than This, which was rustically recorded at Sun Studios in Memphis; the First African Baptist Church in Savannah, Ga.; and Room 414 of the Gunter Hotel in San Antonio, Texas. (Why Room 414? Bluesman Robert Johnson purportedly recorded in that room, although the hotel has been refurbished since then.) The film starts at 7 p.m.; the concert follows at 8:20 or thereabouts. —Lisa Sorg