John Cougar Mellencamp: R.O.C.K. in Kalamazoo, Michigan, U.S.A.
John Mellencamp most recently appeared at MIller Auditorium in 2019. It was a night at Wings Stadium in 1985 that he played all the hits fans will never forget.
John Mellencamp's hometown of Seymour, Indiana is only 300 miles south of Kalamazoo. The heartland rocker has always been popular here and has performed many live shows at storied Michigan venues like Pine Knob, Cobo Hall, Joe Louis Arena, the Palace of Auburn Hills and Wings Stadium.
Back in the Johnny Cougar days, he opened for a band I don't even remember called The Rockets at Cobo Hall on New Year's Eve 1979. he would open shows for the Kinks, the Babys, and Heart before headlining. The concert at Wings Stadium in Kalamazoo may have only been his second as the main attraction in Michigan. The Concert Database lists a March 1984 show at the Fox Theatre and then Joe Louis Arena on November 15, 1985, the night after he appeared on the Wings stage.
The tour was in support of the Scarecrow album, Cougar's eighth album, the first after his breakthrough U-Huh. Fans were beginning to know him as John Cougar Mellencamp and these songs would all age well. Take a look at the setlist from the concert at Wings and tell me you don't know 50-80% of these songs.
John Cougar Mellencamp at Wings Stadium 11/15/1985 via Setlist.fm
- Small Town
- Jack & Diane
- Minutes to Memories
- Lonely Ol' Night
- Rain on the Scarecrow
- Between a Laugh and a Tear
- Hand to Hold On To
- Golden Gates
- Ain't Even Done with the Night
- Crumblin' Down
- R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.
- Play Guitar
- Hurt So Good
- Authority Song
- The Face of the Nation
- Pink Houses
- Games People Play/ Walk a Mile in My Shoes/ Mickey's Monkey/ Mony Mony/ Nobody but Me
- Proud Mary
- Land of 1,000 Dances
It seems almost ridiculous that he would begin the concert with such a big hit, but "Small Town" had just been released two weeks earlier and was just beginning its climb to #6 on the charts. Also notable: the Michigan encore. He only played this medley in Detroit and Kalamazoo. It was a night of heartand rock and roll that fans will never forget when John Cougar Mellencamp played Wings Stadium.
See John Mellencamp's Handwritten Lyrics to "Small Town" and a Salute to Indiana at the Hard Rock Casino in Gary
Rock History: What to See at Hard Rock Casino in Gary