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04 AUG 08 DAVID VIENNA
I would say John Mellencamp blew the roof off the Greek Theatre in L.A. last week, except the Greek has no roof. That's good. The repair costs would have been, well, through the roof.
Much has been said about his celebrated new album Life, Death, Love and Freedom, that it shows maturity and perspective. That may be true, but Mellencamp still rocked like a rebellious teenager. He even sneaked off stage a few times to grab a some hits from a cigarette.
The blue-collar rocker treated the massive crowd to songs spanning his entire career -- from "Check It Out" to "Paper & Fire" to "R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A." And he did a number of cuts from Life, Death, Love and Freedom, including "Troubled Land," "If I Die Sudden," "Longest Days" and "My Sweet Love" (video).
The backdrop on stage was a worn patchwork of different fabrics. The American flag sewn into the array answered any questions about whether or not this was a metaphor. He refuses to make any apologies for his extremely vocal political views... or anything else. (From stage he said, "Yes, I still smoke. Yes, I still cuss.") But beneath his protest and anger, there is hope.
Mid-set, his band left the stage and he presented a few songs solo, just him and his acoustic. One of these was the new cut "Young Without Lovers." He invited the audience to sing along with the chorus: "Young without lovers / Old without friends." Defying the sentiment of the lyrics, he said, "If we all sing, we can't be alone."
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