Although the scuttlebutt on John Mellencamp’s new album Life, Death, Love and Freedom is that it is a dark, and decidedly non-commercial outing, you wouldn’t have known it judging from opening night of his tour this past Tuesday at Philadelphia’s Mann Music Center.

Perhaps to work off a bit of stage rust, the veteran heartland rocker instead leaned heavily towards his considerable back catalog of hits for a crowd pleasing set that included such well-worn favorites as “Pink Houses,” “Smalltown,” and “Jack And Diane.” Still, with a new album to promote due in stores this Tuesday July 15, the show did kick off with two of the new songs, “Thank You,” and ”My Sweet Love”. Psst…by the way, you can download the Philly show here.

For the new album, Mellencamp joins labelmates Paul McCartney and Joni Mitchell on the new Starbucks Records, or excuse me, Hear Music label.

This means that you can pick up your copy of Life, Death, Love and Freedom to go with that double tall latte at the neighborhood Starbucks, in addition to your more usual traditional retail outlets. Life, Death, Love and Freedom is Mellencamp’s first record produced by T. Bone Burnett, and is said to be a bluesier, more stripped effort than last year’s more commercial sounding Freedom’s Road. Other song titles include “Troubled Land,” “For The Children,” and “Jena,” which is said to be inspired by the racially charged events that made headlines not too long ago.

Here is the complete setlist from Mellencamp’s opening night performance at Philly’s Mann Music Center 07/08/08:

1. Thank You
2. My Sweet Love
3. Paper In Fire
4. Check It Out
5. Minutes To Memories
6. A Ride Back Home
7. Don't Need This Body
8. Small Town
9. Troubled Land
10. Pink Houses
11. Ghost Towns Along The Highway
12. Rain On The Scarecrow
13. Human Wheels
14. If I Die Sudden
15. Crumblin' Down
16. Lonely Ol Night
17. R.O.C.K In The USA
18. Jack & Diane
19. Authority Song

And here are the remaining tour dates:

July 11 PNC Bank Arts Center - Holmdel, NJ
July 14 Bank of America Pavilion - Boston, MA
July 15 Bank of America Pavilion - Boston, MA
July 18 DTE Energy Music Theatre - Clarkston, MI
July 22 Charter One Pavilion @ Northerly Island - Chicago, IL
July 23 Riverbend Music Center - Cincinnati, OH
July 25 Ford Center - Oklahoma City, OK
July 27 Red Rocks Amphitheatre - Denver, CO
July 30 Santa Barbara Bowl- Santa Barbara, CA
July 31 Greek Theatre - Los Angeles, CA
Aug 2 Greek Theatre - Berkeley, CA

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