Monday, July 28, 2014

Keeping on Chooglin' in Chicago, John Fogerty Gives Creedence to His Legendary Stature -- Chicago Concert Review

Concert Review

John Fogerty
Chicago Theatre
July 27, 2014

I arrived at the Chicago Theatre on Sunday night with tremendous regard for the greatness of John Fogerty.

I left with even more.

While he may not retain quite the renown or continued drawing power of other legendary rock songwriters dating back to the 1960s--including Paul McCartney, Neil Young, Paul Simon and Barry Gibb, all of whom I've seen earlier this year--Fogerty's output as the primary force behind Creedence Clearwater Revival is among the most remarkable in pop music history, especially as it was all created within a 4-year span.

Though I think I only really came to know CCR after Fogerty's chart-topping 1985 comeback album, Centerfield, I have never not been an avid fan since becoming aware.

I have seen Fogerty in concert before, including 7 years ago at the same venue, and own a concert DVD.

So while my friend Paolo and I didn't buy tickets to Sunday's show until the middle last week--for just $38.50 per, albeit at the very top of the balcony--I was very much anticipating reveling as Fogerty rocked through a cavalcade of CCR classics, plus a couple solo hits.

And with "Traveling Band," "Green River," "Who'll Stop the Rain," "Born on the Bayou" and "Lodi" comprising the opening quintet, I certainly wasn't disappointed straight out of the gate.

At 69, Fogerty remains in great shape and his iconic voice is seemingly as powerful as ever.

Thus, many more gems were certainly joyful to hear, and the rather full crowd--I was worried it would be shamefully undersold--clearly enjoyed "Looking Out My Back Door," "Have You Ever Seen the Rain," "Down on the Corner," "Up Around the Bend" "Bad Moon Rising," "Proud Mary" and more. (See for full list of John Fogerty in Chicago.)

Yet while the string of greatest hits was glorious, if pretty much a given, I found myself newly impressed with just how terrific Fogerty is as a guitarist and overall musician.

His current touring band--including his son Shane on guitar, the great veteran drummer Kenny Aronoff, a demonstrably good keyboardist, plus another guitarist and a bassist--was outstanding, turning extended instrumental jams on "I Heard It Through the Grapevine," "Ramble Tamble" and "Keep On Choogling" into rather surprising highlights.

Beyond cover songs that were part of CCRs canon, like "I Heard It Through the Grapevine," "Susie Q" and "Midnight Special," Fogerty did pleasing versions of "Night Time is the Right Time" and "New Orleans," the latter a Gary U.S. Bonds song I didn't previously know.

Though I thought the longtime baseball fan missed a chance to salute the day's Hall of Fame inductees--including three with strong Chicago ties--he played his trademark baseball bat guitar on a romp through "Centerfield."

While I knew another 1985 hit, "The Old Man Down the Road," harkened back to CCR--Fogerty actually got sued for plagiarizing his own "Run Through the Jungle"--it was particularly pleasing to hear how good "Mystic Highway," a new song from 2013's Wrote a Song for Everyone (mostly a collection of duets on Creedence classics), held its own among towering tunes essentially as old as I am.

Like other highlights of the evening--which had no opening act and saw Fogerty taking the stage soon after the 7:30 ticketed start time--"Mystic Highway" included an extended instrumental interlude.

Other than some gracious appreciation for the reverent applause, Fogerty didn't do a lot of talking from the stage, but reminded that Creedence Clearwater Revival played at Woodstock 45 years ago--the exact anniversary is just a few weeks away--and noted that he wrote "Who'll Stop the Rain" based on his observations of others gathered there.

But while I went in thinking I'd be more than happy with a musical history lesson, or more so a rather thorough recap, the truth that some of Fogerty and his band's best performances came beyond the hits made the show even better than I anticipated.

Of course, seeing how good John Fogerty still is--and having it reiterated that "Fortunate Son" remains among the greatest protest songs ever written--only made me wistful that rock music this good may soon be a thing of the past, perhaps never to regenerate itself.

While this pessimism seem seems to have some Creedence, one can only hope there will sooner-than-later be a revival.

But until then, I'll keep rolling on the river any chance I get.

Here's a clip of "Fortunate Son" from Sunday's show uploaded to YouTube by joeypgh1:

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