Pengrowth Saddledome, Calgary - February 15, 2008

THERESA TAYLER - Sun Media

, Last Updated: 6:14 AM ET

CALGARY - Call him John, or Mr. Mellencamp, at one point he answered to John Cougar -- but, under no circumstances call him a Republican.

He's had nearly as many name switcheroos as Prince. But, if there's one title John's sticking to it's Democrat.

Early this month after discovering Republican front-runner John McCain was using a few of his lefty-leaning hits -- such as Pink Houses and Our Country on McCain's right-wing campaign -- Mellencamp requested he stop.

Why on earth the all-but-confirmed Republican candidate would want to be associated with America's king of pro-labour rock n' roll librettos is dubious -- well, ain't that America -- early last week McCain pulled the songs at the Coug's request.

It seems like a jump across the border up through the Great White North and away from all that American politico-mumbo-jumbo, had Mellencamp in good spirits last night at his show at the Pengrowth Saddledome.

He kicked things off with Pink Houses, followed up with Paper and Fire, then It's a lonely ol' Night, his raspy voice as smokey as ever.

Good stuff -- there's nothing worse than when an oldie but a goodie comes on stage and subjects audiences to a load of their new, unknown, stuff before cutting to the chase and slinging into the hits.

Mellencamp, who's now well into his 50s, has a strong, loyal following.

There were Calgarians of all ages and both sexes having a blast last night as Mellencamp entranced them with working-class-hero tunes.

He had a crack six-piece band behind him and commanded the stage easily with his charm.

Mellencamp's best alone on stage with his guitar in tow, but with the full band behind him, last night he reminded fans that he's still got what it takes to rock n' roll.

Canadian rocker, and the man behind the hit the Life Is a Highway, Tom Cochrane, was the opening act.

The two made a good pair, tons of Americana/Canadiana brewsky drinking rock n' roll to go around.

Cochrane has never managed to move past his big, 1991, hit (Life is a Highway) but, he's far from a one-hit wonder.

It was a good ol' night at the 'Dome on Friday -- full of peacenik prose and memorable hits.


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