WASHINGTON, July 1, 2015 – “Down on the Bayou” reverberates, the smoke parts and there, beneath a larger- than-life video image, John Fogerty emerges. And while he looks a little older, he is as energetic and his voice (nearly) as strong as it was in 1969.
This tour is about the rock statesman memories and memoir, John Fogerty’s “Fortunate Son: My Life, My Music,” which takes readers through more than 45 years of rock and roll. The band from which Fogerty emerged in 1969 was Creedence Clearwater Revival, and, while their time together was a scant three years, they created one of the most enduring legacies of Rock and Roll. .
During tonight’s nearly two-and-a-half-hour show Fogerty told numerous stories, creating an atmosphere that was part Las Vegas intimate and part rock extravaganza, complete with plenty of smoke, pyrotechnics and wildly gyrating light displays.
One story was that, when the band began getting airplay it was post-military service for Fogerty and bandmate Doug Clifford, who had been inducted into the Vietnam conflict in 1966. From their first eponymous album it was their cover, with Dale Hawkins’ “Suzie Q,” that brought them to the attention of a fan base growing rapidly out of the midwest. The band, from Southern California and with a strong following on the west coast, had a decidedly Southern sound – which Fogerty termed Swamp Rock – that resonated in the midwest.
From the stage Fogerty recalled they did not have a manager or publicist and that they were on a very tiny record label. His response to the challenge was to write the best music, and as much as he could, as quickly as he could. The result was the band’s releasing three albums in quick succession – “Bayou Country,” “Green River” and “Willy and the Poor Boys” – each of which reached multi-platinum, charting top 10 and resulting in six top 30 hits.
Fogerty ripped through the catalog he created over those three halcyon years of swamp rock and CCR with nothing short of verve and backed by noted drummer Kenny Aronoff (drums – John Cougar Mellancamp) and James LoMenzo (bass – Mega Death), Bob Malone (Keyboard), Shane Fogarty (guitar) and Devon Pangle (guitar) played 23 full songs, with a little bit of Rockin’ Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu and a Whole Lot of Shaking Going On before an encore of Bad Moon Rising and Proud Mary.
Going back to numbers, out of those 25 songs, 17 were instantly recognizable from those CCR days filled with protests, Woodstock and the toddler years of Rock and Roll.
Reaching back to Woodstock, Fogerty recounted how, stepping onto the Saturday night stage following the Grateful Dead, he saw an audience of people that looked like him – only they were naked and asleep. It was 2:30 a.m. and “The Grateful Dead had put a half-million people to sleep.”
Fogerty spoke of his boys, Shane and Tyler, offering a plug for their band Hearty Har. He also spoke of the journeys of his life, including taking the audience through a tour of his guitar closet, including a Fender Telecaster, Rickenbacker and Custom Gibson Les Paul.
A tender moment came as, sitting at the piano, he spoke of home before entering into CCR’s “Long as I Can See the Light,” or speaking of his daughter Kelsey and her love for rainbows before singing “Have You Ever Seen the Rain” or the roads on which he traveled, aka “Mystic Highway.”
Packed around the tender moments, the telling of tales and the sharing of warmth, Fogerty and the band rocked the Swamp Rock for which he is known, playing many songs fondly remembered but leaving us hungry for more.
The most impressive numbers of tonight are the band themselves. This is the new middle age powerhouse band, including Aronoff, who is 62 years old, looking and playing as hard, if not harder, then drummers half his age. James LoMenzo, long locked and laying impressive bass lines, is 56. Keyboardist Bob Malone is 50.
And John Fogerty, born May 29, 1945, is 70 years young.
Rock and Roll will never die. Long live Swamp Rock.
Set List: Wolf Trap June 30, 2015
Born on the Bayou (Creedence Clearwater Revival song)
Travelin’ Band (Creedence Clearwater Revival song)
Up Around the Bend (Creedence Clearwater Revival song)
Who’ll Stop the Rain (Creedence Clearwater Revival song)
Lookin’ Out My Back Door (Creedence Clearwater Revival song)
Sweet Hitch-Hiker (Creedence Clearwater Revival song)
Joy of My Life
Midnight Special (Lead Belly cover)
Keep On Chooglin’ (Creedence Clearwater Revival song)
Hey Tonight (Creedence Clearwater Revival song)
New Orleans (Gary “U.S.” Bonds cover)
Lodi (Creedence Clearwater Revival song)
Green River (Creedence Clearwater Revival song)
Good Golly Miss Molly (Little Richard cover)
Ramble Tamble (Creedence Clearwater Revival song)
Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On (Big Maybelle cover) (snippet)
Rockin’ Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu (snippet)
Long as I Can See the Light (Creedence Clearwater Revival song)
I Heard It Through the Grapevine (Smokey Robinson & The Miracles cover)
Have You Ever Seen the Rain? (Creedence Clearwater Revival song)
Down on the Corner (Creedence Clearwater Revival song)
The Old Man Down the Road
Fortunate Son (Creedence Clearwater Revival song)
Bad Moon Rising (Creedence Clearwater Revival song)
Proud Mary (Creedence Clearwater Revival song)