John Fogerty

October 10, 2013
Nokia Theatre
Los Angeles, CA

Review by Shawn Perry
Photos by Ron Lyon

So here it was — finally — my opportunity to see John Fogerty play the songs that made him famous. You see, for many years, the singer and songwriter didn’t perform any of the songs he wrote for Creedence Clearwater Revival. As it happened, the last (and only) time I saw him, he was touring behind the ominous Eye Of The Zombie and steering clear of anything from the CCR songbook. Tonight, it was a total 360 — all about CCR and more. It was, in fact, a history lesson about anything and everything John Fogerty.

Even before the show began, a slide show was spewing out Fogerty facts for the antsy audience still scrambling for their seats. I learned that he owns 300 guitars and got his first one at Sears. There was other trivia, like the little known tidbit about Creedence following the Grateful Dead at Woodstock (yet neither appeared in the movie). It all lead up to Wrote A Song For Everyone, Fogerty’s latest album featuring duets with Foo Fighters, Jennifer Hudson, Keith Urban and others.

The show, however, went in another direction. Every song from Cosmo’s Factory was pulled out, played out of order and mixed in with other Creedence and solo songs to create a regular Fogerty feast. For someone like me, who got a copy of Cosmo’s Factory for Christmas in 1970 (the year it was released) and never stopped playing it, well, you can only imagine…

Amidst rolling fog and video montages, a silhouette appeared on a pedestal at center stage and at once, it was John Fogerty ready to spend the next two hours covering the spectrum. And what better way to begin then with “Travelin’ Band.” The man’s voice is untainted, as crisp and sharp as ever. After a quick run through of “Lookin' Out My Back Door,” enhanced by Bob Malone’s accordion, Fogerty stepped up and reminded everyone he and his band were performing Cosmo’s Factory. It was easy to figure it was going to be done in a linear fashion, adding to the suspense of the setlist.

With that, it was on to “Ooby Dooby,” the song that got Roy Orbison signed to Sun Records, whose label adorned the screen overhead Hearing the epic “Ramble Tamble” live was something I never thought I’d experience, but here Fogerty was with his red-hot band, keying off drummer Kenny Aronoff and bassist James Lomenzo during the song’s extended jam. Really hard to imagine if Creedence in their heyday could have done it any better.

With no-holds-bar candor, Fogerty talked about he was sued in the 80s for “The Old Man Down the Road,” a song he wrote, because it sounded too much “Run Through The Jungle,” a song he also wrote (Fogerty’s woes with his label and his bad deals could fill a book). He played both tonight and they didn’t sound anything like each other.

He also spoke about Woodstock, remarking how CCR was originally scheduled to go on at 9:30 on Saturday, but didn’t hit the stage until 2:30 in the morning. And with that, footage from the fabled festival filled the screens and Fogerty, acoustic in hand, fell into “Who’ll Stop the Rain.” The release of half-dozen beach balls added to the mayhem as Fogerty changed out yet another guitar (he has arsenal with him) for a black Les Paul and slipped right into “I Heard It Through the Grapevine,” giving both Malone and Lomenzo solo time for what turned out to be one of the night’s coolest jams.

“Centerfield,” Fogerty’s anthem to baseball and the title track of his 1985 comeback album, broke the CCR streak without diminishing the mood. all oh his solo tracks, from “Almost Saturday Night” to the newer “Mystic Highway,” were in easy favor with the audience. Of course, those CCR nuggets — “Midnight Special,” “Born On The Bayou” and “Down On The Corner” — was what they came to hear, and Fogerty wasted no time knocking them out.

“Keep On Chooglin’” was a bit of a left curve that obviously sat well with the diehards, but it was “Have You Ever Seen The Rain” that evoked the most emotion. Devon Pangle and Shane Fogerty handled most of the rhythm guitar, allowing the flannel-shirted legend to randomly solo away. By the time the band got to the set closer, “Fortunate Son,” it was obvious the 68-year-old singing guitar slinger could have gone for another couple hours.

The encore included a slice of “Hey Tonight” into “Bad Mon Rising” (pretty sure I heard Fogerty sang, “Bathroom on the right” on one chorus), followed by — what else? — “Proud Mary.” Opening night, and it was everything and more for a Creedence Clearwater Revival fan. Other shows have followed, some bolstered by unexpected visitors, but to see John Fogerty and hear him sing these songs was really all that mattered tonight in Los Angeles.

 

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