John Fogerty dispensed with the notion of an opening act before he took the stage Tuesday night, and by the time it was over, the reason why became clear: he needed all that stage time for himself so he could perform every last one of his string of rock and rolls hits, both from his time fronting Creedence Clearwater Revival and from his subsequent solo career. Fogerty delivered that hit parade with gusto at the Hard Rock Live at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, taking the better part of three hours reminding the audience of his role in rock and roll history.
It’s a theme which Fogerty has been focused on this year, having released the new record Wrote A Song For Everyone which consists mostly of new versions of his classic songs aided by prominent guest artists ranging from Foo Fighters to Jennifer Hudson. But rather than trotting out guest performers and attempting to replicate the new versions on stage, he instead performed more or less straight up renditions of the originals. That meant faithful versions of Born On The Bayou, Bad Moon Rising, Proud Mary, Fortunate Son, Up Around the Bend, Centerfield, Green River, and more.
The energy level for the night started high, with Fogerty appearing under a shower of sparks on a raised central platform for the opening number. But even as he descended the staircase and spent most of the evening down at stage level, the energy level grew even greater. And just when you thought the veteran rocker might be looking to catch his breath, he would instead punctuate certain songs by introducing them with the stories of how they came to be.
There was the humorous tale of how an overlong and psychedelically motivated set at Woodstock by the Grateful Dead pushed his own CCR set into the middle of the night and left him charged with the task of waking up a naked and sleeping audience, a rain soaked experience which led him to go home afterwards and write Who’ll Stop The Rain. That was later contrasted with the story of how the song Have You Ever Seen The Rain was written about his band breaking up, but that in his mind the song has since turned into one of inspiration and hope.
Somewhere in there he slipped in the word “transmogrify” which revealed a vocabulary rather far removed from the stereotypical rock and roll mindset. But then John Fogerty never has quite fit the stereotype. He was never the druggie, never the partier. And during the various stretches when he wasn’t feeling it, he’s ignored any commercial pressures by simply not making any new music at all. In amongst the hit parade was a newly written song called Mystic Highway, which explores his advancing stages of life. It’s one of the better songs he’s ever crafted, which is saying something in his case, and it’s enough to hope that Fogerty gets around to making at least one more album of all-new material at some point.
But in the mean time, anyone with an affinity for pioneering rock music would do well to go see John Fogerty perform his hours-long collection of defining rock and roll hits live in concert. It’s a slice of history delivered with the knobs turned up just as much as they ever were.
photo credit: Julie Fogerty