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  • John Geiger

Mellencamp Rocks Muncie Indiana's Emens Auditorium

Review & Photos By John Geiger

Hailing from Seymour, Indiana, John Mellencamp has been a prominent figure in the music scene since 1976. With a Grammy Award to his name and a well-deserved spot in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Mellencamp is celebrated for his signature Americana and roots rock style, often weaving poignant lyrics about the common person's experiences.

Photo of John Mellencamp by John Geiger

During his "Live and in Person 2024" tour, Mellencamp graced Ball State’s Emens Auditorium in Muncie with his presence, offering a unique blend of music and visual storytelling. Instead of the customary opening musical act, the audience was treated to a montage of classic black and white films, setting a nostalgic tone for the evening with titles like "The Misfits," "Grapes of Wrath," and "A Streetcar Named Desire."

The final black and white clip before Mellencamp took the stage read, “Please Practice Theatre Etiquette." The intimate setting of Emens Auditorium, with its only 3,309 seats, made it feel like a special, small, hometown performance for Mellencamp.

Photo of John Mellencamp by John Geiger

As anticipation mounted, the auditorium was bathed in police sirens and red beacon lights, signaling Mellencamp's arrival on stage. Dressed in his trademark blue coveralls, reminiscent of his appearance at Farm Aid 2023, Mellencamp kicked off the show with the song "John Cockers" from his acclaimed 2008 album, "Life, Death, Love and Freedom."

Following the crowd-pleaser "Small Town," Mellencamp engaged with the audience, promising a diverse setlist that spanned familiar hits to his lesser-known gems, ensuring there would be “songs you know, songs you don’t know, songs you can sing to, and songs you could dance to.”

Photo of John Mellencamp by John Geiger

After playing “The Eyes of Portland,” from his 2023 album “Orpheus Descending,” Mellencamp urged fans to cherish their time together, “so that the time we have here on Earth is our time.”

A poignant moment came with "The Real Life," featuring recorded spoken word by Joanne Woodward, a tribute to their enduring friendship despite her battle with Alzheimer's Disease.

After the classic song "Cherry Bomb," the artist invited a young girl from the front row onto the stage, guiding her as she sang “Hurts So Good” into the microphone while the audience joined in with enthusiastic support.

Mellencamp's performance transcended the typical rock concert, delivering a heartfelt, intimate experience that resonated long after the final note faded. Truly, John Mellencamp Rocks Muncie Indiana's Emens Auditorium!

Photo of John Mellencamp by John Geiger

BONUS:Who is Johnny Cougar?In 1976 MCA Records released Mellencamp’s first album, “The Chestnut Street Incident,” under the pseudonym “Johnny Cougar,” because they believed the name “Mellencamp” was not marketable. Mellencamp reluctantly agreed.

After the success of his fifth album, “American Fool,” the musician began to slowly reclaim control of his name going by “John Cougar Mellencamp.” By the 1990s, “Cougar” was dropped completely and Mellencamp exclusively released music under his birth name, “John Mellencamp”.


John Cockers / Paper in Fire / Minutes to Memories / Small Town / Human Wheels / Jackie Brown / Troubled Land / Check It Out / The Eyes of Portland (Acoustic) / Longest Days (Acoustic) / Jack & Diane (Acoustic) / The Real Life (w/ Joanne Woodward spoken word) / Rain on the Scarecrow / Lonely Ol' Night / What If I Came Knocking / Crumblin' Down / Pink Houses / Cherry Bomb / Hurts So Good

You can purchase music by John Mellencamp from Indy CD & Vinyl HERE!

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