By: Mark Smiley
For the first time in almost two years, John Mellencamp returned to Denver to perform. AEG Live in Denver presented John Mellencamp and his Sad Clowns & Hillbillies Tour at Fiddler’s Green Amphitheatre. On June 5, 2017, two opening acts including the legendary Emmylou Harris warmed up the crowd.
The concert did not disappoint fans of Mellencamp as he performed for 1 hour and 25 minutes straight. The artist formerly known as John Cougar entertained the audience with hits such as Jack & Diane (an acoustic version), Paper in Fire, Pink Houses, and Small Town. He also rolled out songs from his new album, Sad Clowns & Hillbillies. The new album is a departure from the usual hits we all recognize. It’s a toast to country and bluegrass music.
Country singer Carlene Carter, daughter of country legends Carl Smith and June Carter, and stepdaughter of Johnny Cash joined Mellencamp on stage for some of the new songs they have duets with each other on. She was also the first act to hit the stage. And, she joined Mellencamp for some of the hits.
Mellencamp was backed by two background singers, a drummer, a pianist, a fiddler, two guitar players, and an accordion. Mike Wanchic, who has been playing with Mellencamp for almost 40 years was one of those guitarists. During the concert, Mellencamp joked with the audience that they take turns napping because you always hear about someone dying in their sleep but not dying during a nap.
Mellencamp closed the concert by playing Cherry Bomb, the 1987 tune off of his The Lonesome Jubilee album. Fans expected a curtain call as hits such as Jackie Brown and Hurts So Good were not played. But, Fiddlers Green Ampitheater has a noise ordinance so Mellencamp called it a night at 10:15 p.m.
The audience was dancing and singing along the entire time and many that exited the show were satisfied.