by Julian Spivey
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame legend John Fogerty put on one helluva show at the WinStar Casino in Thackerville, Okla. on Saturday, Oct. 28.
Fogerty, the songwriter, vocalist and lead guitarist for the iconic late ‘60s rock group Creedence Clearwater Revival, performed a set of CCR’s greatest hits along with some of his finest solo work. It was truly the perfect set list you’d want to see from a man of Fogerty’s legendary status.
The great thing about seeing Fogerty in concert is that even at the age of 72 he sounds and performs just as great as ever. He truly sounds like he did 50 years ago when he recorded many of his classics. Not only that, but his energy on stage is quite ridiculous for his age with him bouncing around while performing exceptional guitar solos that remind you just how great (and underrated) of a guitarist he is. The crazy thing is that at times during his show on Saturday night Fogerty seemed like he was going to tire his college aged son Shane who plays guitar in his band out instead of the other way around.
Fogerty began his nearly perfect set on Saturday night with the rockin’ “Travelin’ Band,” from CCR’s 1970 album Cosmo’s Factory. The performance instantaneously got the jam-packed WinStar Casino crowd up on their feet and rocking. The nostalgia of the evening kept right on going from that point with performances of CCR classics like “Green River,” “Susie Q” and “Born on the Bayou.”
Before performing 1970’s No. 2 hit “Who’ll Stop the Rain?” Fogerty told a great story about CCR’s unfortunate Woodstock performance where the famed festival lineup was pushed back so badly that his band didn’t go on until about two in the morning when most in attendance were sleeping, except for one guy out in the crowd who yelled, “We’re with you John!” Fogerty wrote “Who’ll Stop the Rain?” about the experience.
One of the remarkable things about seeing Fogerty perform these classic CCR songs live is it reminds you just how legendary the band was despite only being an act for essentially three or four years and Fogerty’s output as a songwriter in those short years rivals anybody in the history of the rock genre.
“Have You Ever Seen the Rain?,” “Down on the Corner,” “Lookin’ Out My Back Door” and so forth were all on display on Saturday night one after another much to the happiness of the audience. There were some surprises along the way too like a spirited cover of Gary U.S. Bonds’ “New Orleans” and the Leadbelly classic “Midnight Special,” which CCR famously covered, and Fogerty said he was taught as a child upon meeting folk legend Pete Seeger.
One of my favorite CCR songs has always been the down-trodden “Lodi,” about a performer essentially trapped in a down spiraling career and going nowhere. A few years ago, for the collaborative album Wrote a Song for Everyone Fogerty re-tuned the song with his son Shane and turned it into more of a rocker than the country-ish song it originally was. This was the performance Fogerty and his son performed on Saturday night. I probably would’ve liked to have heard the original, but it was fantastic to see how much fun Fogerty and his son were having together on stage.
While the main focus of the evening was on Fogerty’s timeless hits with CCR, and rightfully so, he did have the opportunity to showcase some of his solo classics like “Centerfield,” equipped with his baseball bat designed guitar that’s become a favorite during the performance, “Hot Rod Heart” and “The Old Man Down the Road.”
Fogerty would finish his set with a rocking performance of “Fortunate Son,” the anti-war hit from 1969 that showed the hypocrisy of the military draft during the height of the Vietnam War.
Fogerty would leave the stage briefly before returning for an epic two-song encore that featured what many would likely consider to be CCR’s two most famous songs: “Bad Moon Rising” (a great performance just days before Halloween) and “Proud Mary,” which had the entire audience singing along in unison.
Seeing Fogerty in concert is something I’ve wanted to do for many years. He was incredibly high on my concert bucket list and it’s a show I know I will never forget. It honestly surpassed any expectations that I had for it.