10 July 2004
Universal Lending Pavilion, Denver, CO
I doubt I'll ever get to see Creedence Clearwater Revival. But, I did get to see the band's rhythm section opening a Sammy Hagar show last year. And, now I can say that I've seen the band's lead singer/guitarist.
John Fogerty seems like a very down-to-earth, simple man. And, he seems to like, down-to-earth, simple Delta-blues-based rock and roll, with straight-forward stage setups, when he performs. Besides a fake starlight backdrop with a half moon crossing through his name, the light show was fairly average, perhaps allowing viewers to concentrate on the singing and music.
Had I seen him on tour in the mid-1980s, I would have missed out on hearing his hits from his Creedence days, since, at the time, he was boycotting the tunes in a legal move against Fantasy Records, with whom he was entangled in court.
Since about 1987, his boycott has been dormant, as tonight's setlist did confirm. After "Born On The Bayou" and "Green River", John told a story about CCR's often-forgotten appearance at Woodstock, and he dedicated "Suzie Q" to one of the concertgoers at the 1969 Festival.
He introduced the catchy "Bring It Down To The Jelly Roll" as his favorite song off of his 1997 Grammy-winning album, Blue Moon Swamp.
Next came "Up Around The Bend", on a bright burst-colored Les Paul. I counted no less than ten electric guitars in Fogerty's inventory for this tour, each connected to a wireless system. Later came "Lodi", "Commotion", "Midnight Special", and "Cotton Fields", in a virtual barrage of his impressive back catalog.
John performed with four other musicians, most notably Billy Burnette on rhythm guitar, throughout the entire performance, including John's acoustic mid-set. Interestingly, while playing acoustic guitar, John used guitar cables, but attached a headset wireless microphone for vocals. I had trouble hearing his voice from his headset, perhaps because he didn't have the microphone centered in front of his mouth.
His audio monitor malfunctioned a couple times as well, prompting a roadie to swap out a wireless device attached to the back of Fogerty's belt. This delay prompted Fogerty to comment on the strange visuals of the repair work.
The acoustic set included "Lookin' Out My Back Door", "Have You Ever Seen The Rain", "Jambalaya", and a new anti-war song, "Deja Vu (All Over Again)", almost a latter day "Who'll Stop The Rain" (which John also performed tonight).
Centerfield songs included the title track on a baseball-bat-shaped three pickup electric, and "The Old Man Down The Road", but no "Rock And Roll Girls". No "Rockin' All Over The World", either.
John told a story about how, one day, he had four dollars, and had to choose between buying new guitar strings or a new album. He chose to buy a record by Bo Didley, whom he praised with his rendition of "Before You Accuse Me".
Throughout the evening, the former Berkeley student, now 59 years old, was jumping around like he was 29, in good spirits, and good humor.
The set ended with "Fortunate Son" and "Bad Moon Rising", during which John lightheartedly mocked a lyric "There's a bad moon on the rise", commonly misheard as "There's a bathroom on the right".
The obligatory encore included "Travelin' Band" and "Proud Mary".
As I mentioned in my 02 May 2003 Review, on one hand you could say that CCR was all about John Fogerty, but on the other you can also claim that John Fogerty's solo tours lack the unique sound of the CCR rhythm section, and both arguments would be fair ones.
But, that being said, John Fogerty can still pick, still sing, and still rock like nobody else, as he reinforces his imprint on rock and roll history each and every time he goes on tour.
[***1/2] - Steven T.
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