Fogerty brings audience to its feet

Ken Simmons
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John Fogerty. Say the name and the impact will be different, depending on your musical tastes, your knowledge of (or interest in) pop culture politics and, of course, your age.

For most of us, Fogerty means Creedence Clearwater Revival, the band he fronted with brother Tom, Stu Cook and Doug Clifford for an amazingly short five years, ending in 1972. Those five years were pivotal not only to the band but to popular music in general.

Look at the songs the group is best known for “Born on the Bayou,” “Bad Moon Rising,” “Lodi” and “Travellin’ Band”; these California boys blended the rhythms and structures of country with the energy and soul of the blues and added a rock-hard edge.

Today, we don’t think twice when some new country hat twangs out an old rocker, but in 1967, man, this shook the foundations.

Alas, the partnership was doomed. Bad feelings drove Tom from the group in ’71, and blew it completely apart just one year later. This far from the swamp, fans of that sound made due with classic radio and tribute bands — they are legion — until Fogerty re-emerged in 1985 with “Centerfield,” and its pair of radio-friendly tunes, the title track and “The Old Man Down the Road.”

In spite of critical acclaim, award recognition and strong sales, only the most dedicated local fans have been able to keep track of his career since then, his freshest music hardly burning up the local charts.

Ongoing bitterness and frustrating legal wranglings kept Fogerty from performing the old tunes during the “Centerfield” days, and that made as much press at the time as the new material. Thankfully for two sold-out audiences at Mile One Centre this weekend, those days are long behind him.

Fogerty promoted the Canadian leg of his tour with promises of full CCR albums, along with his solo hits and “some surprises.” If the reaction of Friday’s crowd was any indication, it was a promise he kept.

Once they managed to get in, that is. Reportedly, the pyrotechnics were mis-shipped, and arrived barely in time for this first show of the tour. Let’s call it opening night jitters.

No matter. Promise of the Real opened with a 30-minute set so blistering any annoyance at the wait was quickly forgotten. The packed house gave the quartet (congas are a nice throwback touch) a deservedly rousing ovation.

A big-screen infomercial filled the time while the crew worked to set up the main event, a touch of history and, it has to be said, what played like pettiness. All the hits, almost no mention of Creedence. We love ya, John. You don’t have to try so hard and, at 67, it’s probably time to get over past insults, wot?

Once those pesky pyro displays burst and the man himself took the stage. The love was easily felt, especially by the eardrums.

He opened with the full “Bayou Country” album, capping the set off with “Proud Mary.” That got them on their feet and singing along.

Fogerty took advantage of the happy voices many times through the night. Through “Midnight Special,” “Lookin’ Out My Back Door” and most effectively, “Have You Ever Seen the Rain,” he encouraged the 5,000-strong choir, and cheered their efforts each time.

Not that he needed the help. Fogerty’s voice was strong and dead on every note, even those trademark whoops and glass-rattling highs.

The excellent band (after “Ramble Tamble,” Fogerty called drummer Kenny Aronoff the best rock and roll drummer in the world. At that point he would have received little argument) kept up the break-neck pace, enriching the sound and filling the stadium with resonating background vocals. During “Heard it Through the Grapevine,” you would have sworn those four white boys were a deep-south gospel chorus.

For two hours, Fogerty ran the stage, wailed the hits and schooled every guitar player in the house, wringing the neck of a good selection of the 25 instruments he is said to carry on tour. And when it was all said and done, the three-song encore punctuated by dry ice, fire balls and confetti cannon shots, left everyone wanting more, but too spent to make the demand.

At this writing there is another sold-out show on Saturday. One can only hope the lucky folk who managed to get tickets for that one were ready for one of the best concerts they will see this year.

Maybe any year.


Ken Simmons is The Telegram's Features/New Media editor

Organizations: New Media

Geographic location: California, Bayou Country

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Recent comments

  • Rebel
    September 11, 2012 - 15:58

    As a fan of John Fogerty and CCR since their very first recording in 1968 I was thrilled to get the opportunity to see him in concert. If there was any apprehension that maybe he may have lost a step, as I have seen in some other entertainers, it was quickly put to rest as soon as I heard the opening riffs of Born on the Bayou. He is still the Boss, the title he had before Springsteen fans appropiated it. What a show. He still has the pipes and there is a reason he is in the Hall of Fame as a rock guitarist. I have been fortunate to see a few concerts of some of the biggest names in the entertainment field and until Friday night I use to rank Neil Diamond as my favorite concert, now Neil is in second place. Also, I agree with the comments already made in reference to CCR not being mentioned. There was no attempt to hide the fact that John was a part of CCR, the albums and awards that he recieved as part of the group as well as his solo work were all listed. However, it was John Fogerty that was in concert and not CCR so the promo, including the ad for his new album, was entirely justifed. I am just glad I had the opportunity to see it in person, even if it did take me three days to get my voice back.

  • Aubrey Rose
    September 10, 2012 - 09:58

    CCR 'rocked the foundations' from 1967 to 1972 and John Fogerty, at age 67, 'rocked the foundations ' of Mile One Centre on Sept. 7 and 8, 2012. His concert was, without a doubt, the best I've ever seen and one that I will always remember. Fogerty's strong, distinctive voice and mastery of the guitar have not diminished in the slightest, over the years, and he showed why he's truly one of the greatest rock 'n roll icons. Keep rockin', John Fogerty !!!.

  • Elizabeth
    September 10, 2012 - 09:15

    I was at the show on Saturday night, and he put on a great performance. Very well directed and could sing along to every song.

  • Steve Mornat
    September 10, 2012 - 08:25

    John Fogerty's show was hands down the best show I have ever seen. I thought the production was brilliant. The the pre-show opening clips were fantastic. I don't know what the reviewer is talking about seems he has to say something negative.... Some folks like that..The little clips and story were something really cool. Rather than just sit and watch crew set up stage we got a glimpse into John and his personal journey. WONDERFUL!!! No negative what so ever.. What a wonderful experience. I will never forget this night. Never has a show and performer given so much. Thank you John and crew!