Thursday, July 28, 2011

John Mellencamp’s No Better Than This Tour Making A Stop In Grand Rapids

Documentary Film Chronicling The Creation of The “No Better Than This” Album To Open The Show

Concert dates for the next leg of John Mellencamp’s No Better Than This Tour, that began last year in Indiana, have just been announced with a performance set this November 1st at DeVos Performance Hall at 7PM. Tickets go on sale Friday, August 5th at 10am. Prices are $42, $72, $92 and $125. Tickets will be available at the Van Andel Arena box office, Ticketmaster outlets,, or charge by phone: 800-745-3000. Tickets will also be available at the DeVos Place box office during the on-sale and following the on-sale, beginning August 8, 2011.

Mellencamp’s No Better Than This Tour is just back from a run of dates in Ireland, England, Germany, France, Netherlands, Denmark, Switzerland and Italy. The 17-date tour begins on October 25 at Boston’s Citi Performing Arts Center Wang Theater and will be making a stop in Savannah, GA at the Johnny Mercer Theater on November 11.

This Savannah show is of extra significance in light of the fact that sessions for Mellencamp’s critically acclaimed “No Better Than This” album began less than half a mile away at Savannah’s First African Baptist Church. Mellencamp and producer T Bone Burnett would go on to record the rest of the album at Sun Studio in Memphis and in Room 414 of San Antonio's Gunter Hotel where Robert Johnson recorded in 1936. The sessions were documented on a 55-year-old mono tape recorder using just one vintage microphone at each location.

As a reflection of the diversity of styles and material that have been a hallmark of Mellencamp's eclectic career, the No Better Than This concerts are formatted into three segments. These showcase John Mellencamp in an acoustic context, fronting a small combo recalling blues/country and rockabilly roots and with his full rock band. Musicians backing Mellencamp include Michael Wanchic (guitar), Andy York (guitar), Miriam Sturm (violin), John Gunnell (electric and upright bass), Dane Clark (drums and percussion) and Troye Kinnett (accordion/keyboards).

Each of the No Better Than This tour dates will be preceded by a screening of It’s About You, the documentary by filmmakers Kurt and Ian Markus, shot on Super 8, over the course of 2009’s Bob Dylan-John Mellencamp-Willie Nelson tour of minor league baseball stadiums. The hour-long film, both a SXSW Film Festival and Nashville Film Festival selection, chronicles the creation of the No Better Than This album that was recorded on that tour’s off days. The film will be shown at 7 PM at each of the No Better Than This Tour venues so ticket holders are advised to arrive in time to see it.

As was the case with its album namesake, No Better Than This concerts have been the subject of an impressive number of laudatory reviews. A selection of excerpts from those follows. “Mellencamp gloriously proved that not only is he one of America’s treasures, an incredible singer-songwriter and guitarist, he’s also a master at putting together a set.” - Dallas Morning News:

“…A concert that seesawed between facing mortality — full of songs about death — and a stubborn determination to live fully.” - New York Times

“...He maintains remarkable vocal strength. It's an instrument that's perfectly suited to a catalogue of songs that aim to provide a voice to a cast of uncelebrated working-class figures.” - Richmond Times-Dispatch

“His voice, grainy and loaded with gravitas, remains as compelling and as affective as it was the day he recorded ‘Pink Houses’ in 1983. It’s a voice that’s as distinctive as any of his arguably more famous peers, from Dylan to Springsteen to Petty, and like those artists, it’s attached to a man who has kept integrity high on his priority list. Johnny Cash once referred to him as one of the ten best songwriters, and Mellencamp’s newer material didn’t disappoint in a live setting.” - American Songwriter

“ was a generous show, giving the fans what they wanted, but also allowing the leader to indulge in a more old-school style.” - St Paul Pioneer Press

“This concert was superb from beginning to end, with Mellencamp and his crack band taking a stripped down, neo-folk approach until the last quarter, when he unleashed his rock 'n' roll persona. I'm loath to call anything the best, but if I have to choose, this was the concert of the year in Pittsburgh.” - Pittsburgh Tribune