Plain Spoken, From The Chicago Theatre, the newest DVD/CD release from Rock and Roll Hall of Famer John Mellencamp, is a bit different from anything he has ever done. Mixing live concert footage filmed at The Chicago Theatre with a spoken word narrative layered overtop, the viewer obtains an inside look at the man behind the music while enjoying sixteen live tracks.

On the music side of things, Mellencamp begins the night with two new tunes before launching into a string of crowd-pleasing hit songs, though more often than not they are reworked and slowed down for this performance. Songs such as “Pink Houses”, “Rain In The Scarecrow”, and “Cherry Bomb” sound fantastic in the live setting and are the perfect backdrop to what I feel is the main event, Mellencamp’s narrative.

Here’s a glimpse of the performance with a video of the classic song “Small Town”.


The narrative is a concise history of Mellencamp’s life, beginning with his youth and ending at present day. Along the way, we learn tons of personal tidbits about the artist, that I feel make him more relatable and more human; sure, he’s a massively successful recording artist, but, in the end, he is just like you and me. He’s had his fair share of struggles, surviving spina bifida and a rocky relationship with his father, for example. However, he overcame these obstacles through perseverance and managed to become a household name. He had no job and no plan B; his guitar and his music was his life. The takeaway for me after watching this film is that he really is an “everyman”, it’s not just a persona to sell records.

I actually think this idea of narration over a live concert performance is a fresh and fantastic idea and I enjoyed every bit of it.

Plain Spoken, From The Chicago Theatre Track Listing:

01. Lawless Times
02. Troubled Man
03. Minutes To Memories
04. Small Town
05. Stones In My Passway
06. Pop Singer
07. Check It Out
08. Longest Days
09. The Full Catastrpohe
10. My Souls Got Wings
11. Overture
12. Rain On The Scarecrow
13. Paper In Fire
14. Authority Song
15. Pink Houses
16. Cherry Bomb

Director: Ben Coulson
Starring: John Mellencamp
Distributor: Eagle Rock Entertainment
Release Date: May 11, 2018
Runtime: 160 minutes