The '80s shuffle, classic shoulder shrug to the beat and guitar-strum lunge turned from wish to reality Sunday night at CN Centre as rocker John Mellencamp strutted up to the microphone, bringing new songs, trips down a gentle memory lane and rockin' old favourites bouncing off the walls at the sold out concert.
Before I went to this concert I thought about what I should expect of the legendary rocker's well-lived 60 years of experience.
I wasn't disappointed. His husky tone in his youth had a real bite to it and now it's a full-on growl, best suited to Cougar, the name he sported years ago, and he hit every note without fail.
Mellencamp started with Authority Song, then threw in a new tune No One Cares About Me off his new CD No Better Than This, the title of his tour.
All the while strumming his guitar until the string broke, then carried on with all the vocal chops he always had - with a rusty edge.
The blue, yellow and white lights were strung around the stage just like they were in the school gym to mark that oh-so special occasion - the prom and we all swayed to Check It Out.
Then he did a very clever thing.
He brought the house to its vocal heights by offering up hits like Jack and Diane acoustically so we could all bask in the glow of days gone by. It was the loudest I'd ever heard a CN Centre concert crowd sing, bar none. And it was awesome to be part of that.
Longest Days was introduced with a tale about Mellencamp's 100-year-old grandma spending quiet afternoons talking with her Buddy, her nickname for him.
And then the Mellencamp we all remembered from our past brought on the rockin' hit Rain on the Scarecrow and he never looked back from the beat as he blazed through Paper in Fire, with his six-piece band behind him. He sang about the walls Crumblin' Down, little Pink Houses for you and me, and we all agreed how nice that would be.
Mellencamp ended his show, opening up his arms, taking in all the love we threw at him from the audience. He then told us he had a couple more old ones for us and belted our R.O.C.K. in the USA and Cherry Bomb to close the show.
It wasn't the usual obligatory encore where we all go hoarse screaming and running the risk of shin splints stomping for five minutes. It was a mature entertainer telling us he'll take the accolades and now we're moving right along to the last two songs of the show and performing them like we all remember.
Cowboy Junkies opened the show for Mellencamp with lovely vocals from songstress Margo Timmins but the attitude was that we were in a bar and the audience volume was more ruckus that I've ever heard. It was a fail in the how-to-reach-your-audience category, but stellar in the hurry, go get your beer and bring it back to your seat before the star hits the stage category.
No One Cares About Me
I Saw You First (Key West Intermezzo)
Love and Happiness
Check It Out
Jack and Diane
Rain on the Scarecrow
Paper In Fire
If I Die Sudden
R.O.C.K. in the USA