John Fogerty – The Mann Center for the Performing Arts – Philadelphia, PA – June 27, 2015
1969 was a huge year for John Fogerty. His old band Creedence Clearwater Revival exploded that year, releasing three albums with eight top forty hits, performing on The Ed Sullivan Show and at Woodstock, touring the world and becoming superstars. Therefore, it is no real surprise that on his latest tour Fogerty decided that he wanted to celebrate that seminal year.
The 1969 Tour shows start with a 20-minute long introductory film, featuring a history of the year, other artists’ hit singles from the era, film and photos of Creedence and the world in the hippie age. At the end, there is a vintage film of Fogerty and Creedence launching into the first verse of the early single “Born on the Bayou.” As that song plays, Fogerty’s current band slips onto the darkened stage and as the first verse ends Fogerty appears center stage and does a duet with his younger self.
Not that it is that much of a change. The 70-year-old rocker is abnormally youthful looking. He could easily pass for his 40s or 50s. His strong rock voice shows no age as well, nor does his guitar playing. The only time you are reminded that this is a younger man is when you notice his stage jumps and gyrations are not quite as animated as the younger members of his band, sons, Tyler and look-alike Shane.
After “Bayou” Fogerty and band ripped into a generous helping of five straight Creedence classics from the year: “Traveling Band,” “Up Around the Bend,” “Who’ll Stop the Rain?,” “Looking Out My Back Door” and “Sweet Hitch-hiker.” It was a good half hour into the show before he hit upon his first newer solo song, and even that was special, “Joy of My Life,” the sweet love song to his long-time wife Julie.
Fogerty was also a good-natured and funny host, telling stories from his career and life to preview his upcoming autobiography. Probably the best was the funny story of Creedence’s legendary botched appearance at Woodstock, when they were supposed to go onstage at 9:00 Saturday night and due to lax scheduling by the time they actually hit the stage at 2:30 in the morning the entire crowd of half a million had been put to sleep by the Grateful Dead.
“You may have noticed that not all of these songs are from 1969. Don’t worry about it,” Fogerty said before launching into a lengthy jam of “Ramble Tamble” from the 1970 album Cosmo’s Factory. He slipped between album tracks and fan favorites before riding the night out with another brace of stone cold classics: “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?,” “Down On the Corner,” his 80s comeback singles “Centerfield” and “The Old Man Down the Road,” “Fortunate Son” and a three-song encore which included “Bad Moon Rising” before inevitably finishing off with “Proud Mary.”
The only song I can even think of that they skipped over was their first hit single, a cover of Dale Hawkins’ “Suzie Q” that was recorded in 1968 but did not become a hit until early 1969. Before you speculate that it was because it was not an original song, the new band did do other Creedence hit covers of Leadbelly’s “The Midnight Special” and their extended rocking up of Marvin Gaye’s “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” (which was not a hit until 1971) as well as little snippets of Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” and Huey “Piano” Smith’s “Rockin’ Pneumonia (and the Boogie Woogie Flu).”
For decades Fogerty refused to play his own Creedence hits due to a feud over songwriting rights with his old label boss Saul Zaentz. It has only been in the last decade or so that he has started playing these songs again, after the Fantasy Records songbook was bought by jazz label Concord and Fogerty’s songwriting rights were restored.
It’s sad, the decades of great shows that were missed due to a legal fight, but finally, decades after the year that is celebrated in this tour, a true John Fogerty concert is possible. Don’t miss it.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2015 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: June 30, 2015.
Photos copyright ©2015 Steve Furco. Courtesy of Mad Ink PR. All rights reserved.