A rainstorm set in as John Fogerty and band came back on stage with Bad Moon Rising and Proud Mary on Saturday night, all fitting encores after an unbroken 21/2-hour set of CCR.
Hundreds of fans got thoroughly wet heading off into the night, but had to be content with the whole package. This is what can happen when 2,000 people sing the chorus of Have You Ever Seen The Rain? They’d spent an intimate evening with one of the greatest unsung contributors to the American popular songbook, and they gave him his due with roars of applause.
With a powerhouse band revving up the hits, including his son Shane on guitar, Fogerty was in his domain for this, his second Kamloops show in six years. The power balladeer went full force, non-stop. He turned 70 in May. I want to know what’s in the water down there in SoCal.
“We’re celebrating the songs of ’69 because that year my band put out three hit albums,” he told a sold-out arena after the band opened with Born on the Bayou and Travellin’ Band.
The show began with a 15-minute mood-setting video that recalled those years and the amazing musical legacy they left behind.
Remember when every jukebox had at least one Creedence hit and usually three or four?
CCR burst onto the radio charts with Suzie Q in ’68, but that was just a warm-up act. Fogerty didn’t want to lapse into the conventional one-hit wonder, which the chart-making machinery produced with great frequency in those years. Like the Beatles, he wanted hits on both sides of the 45. He redoubled his songwriting efforts and the stars aligned the following year as CCR unleashed Bayou Country, Green River and Willy and the Poor Boys, all laden with hits, an infusion of Rock ’N Roll, rockabilly, blues and country.
Fogerty was for years prevented from playing the memorable hits that propelled the band to the top of the charts in the late 1960s and early 70s. There are lots of sad legal sagas in the rock business, but few as bitter, unrelenting and restrictive as that of CCR. He had the demoralizing experience of getting sued for using his own work (a copyright suit was launched against him as recently as late last year).
The experience cost Fogerty his songwriting mojo and after going solo he slipped into a bad place, a period he mentioned as he shared memories and reflections from centre stage throughout the show. The front man credited his wife Julie for getting him back on track in the 1980s. He is a changed man, a proud father who beamed as he spoke between songs of his son’s 4.0 grade average and his young daughter.
Got to be something in that water.
With about 10 different guitars set on racks behind him, Fogerty pledged to play every one before the night was over. Each one gave a signature lick for a song instantly recognized and applauded by the crowd. It was more than the hits faithfully replayed, though.
With his son at his side, Fogerty blazed into an uptempo version of Lodi. To vary the tempo, they rolled out a grand piano and Fogerty senior played the inspirational Long As I Can See The Light, which he composed on his parent’s modest piano.
“Thanks, Mom,” he said.
They included solo career hits such as Old Man Down The Road, Mystic Highway and Centre Field, all of which proved Fogerty hadn’t lost his songwriting touch. They finished up with a fiery rendition of Fortunate Son, including pyro effects hot enough to singe the silver off your whiskers. Fortunate Son is also the title of Fogerty’s memoir to be published this fall.
In all it was a rock-solid performance, a “wondrous apparition, provided by musician,” as the song goes.
CCR’s enduring appeal is firmly rooted in the watershed era of the late 60s, early ’70s, when the postwar generation was coming of age and music became its most powerful if not most effective voice. At the same time, their music is rooted in older, more traditional forms of Americana — blues, country and rockabilly — that give it a timeless, transcendent quality. Then there’s Fogerty’s distinctive vocal style, which demands to be heard no matter what emotion he’s singing.
As much as anything, though, the hits are dance tunes that send people to the floor (even when there is no dance floor, as a few demonstrated Saturday night). That was always a big part of their early appeal and the only aspect of this show that was missing a beat.