Crowds of all ages packed into John R. Emens Auditorium April 13 for John Mellencamp’s Plain Spoken tour, which made a stop at Ball State.
Hands clapped to the familiar beats of Mellencamp's hits as he took the stage, joined by his band clad in black-tie attire.
After the opening song, he greeted the audience's cheers.
"Thank you, I'm John Mellencamp."
Though the concert was sold out, Mellencamp created an intimate atmosphere with the audience, responding to shouts of “I love you” and sharing stories of “old times.”
“Old times” for one audience member, Ball State alumnus Ryan Ingram, included listening to Mellencamp’s records throughout his life.
“My mom was friends with [Mellencamp’s] sister in college, so his records were always playing in the house when I was growing up,” he said.
Ingram said his favorite song by Mellencamp is "Small Town," because it reflects Ingram’s hometown.
“I grew up in a town of 1,800 people, so it was definitely a small town,” he said.
Carlene Carter, daughter of June Carter and stepdaughter of Johnny Cash, opened the show for Mellencamp and joined him on the stage later for a few of Mellencamp’s new songs.
He said he’s been working on a musical for several years, and his work on that project led him to his “singing buddy,” Carter.
Mellencamp played a mixture of old fan favorites during his two-hour set, such as "Jack and Diane" and "Small Town," along with songs from his upcoming album.
He recalled stories of writing the song "Jack and Diane" at 23 years old, and of his grandmother who lived to be 100 years old. Mellencamp said it’s good to reflect on memories with loved ones.
“At the end of the day, all you got is your memories,” he said.