Breaking the South Florida record for most flannel shirts under one roof -- long held by a K-Mart off of US1 -- was not the only impressive feat that took place at Tuesday night's John Fogerty concert. Even more remarkable was that the 68-year-old singer and guitarist could command the stage for a 28 (yes 28!) song set at Hard Rock Live.
If you weren't familiar with the one time frontman and songwriter of Creedence Clearwater Revival heading into the concert, there was a powerpoint presentation of facts and tidbits about Fogerty on the massive overhead screens before he took the stage. Did you know John Fogerty owns 300 guitars and takes 25 of them on tour? How about that the Oakland A's are his favorite team? Or that Creedence Clearwater Revival have sold 140 million albums? You know now. But if you're reading a music blog, you were probably already aware of CCR's unmistakable honkey tonk faux southern proto-punk rock and roll blues.
If not, there was a short movie showing Fogerty and CCR throughout the years. Then sparklers and smoke, and wham, bam, what do you know: Fogerty and his four-piece backing band were already on stage. On their second song, "Born on the Bayou," with the smoke machines creating the effect of a heavy fog, the crowd was at rapt attention. But then, the audience started playing Sudoku on their phones as the band went through a four song stretch of non-Creedence songs. When Fogerty fiddled around with distortion and feedback during a guitar solo that preceded "Keep on Chooglin'," apps were closed and the phones became video cameras.
Before this show, I never held Fogerty's guitar playing in high esteem. CCR songs are generally three chord affairs that novices are taught when they first pick up the guitar. On this evening, Fogerty was noodling with the best of them. If you were paying attention to the PowerPoint, you would know he plays the guitar four hours a day, as well as runs six miles. Fortunately, he picked a band that was able to keep up with a fitness nut. Of particular note was Bob Malone's psychedelic keyboard solo on "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" and then immediately following, an accordion intro for "Looking Out My Backdoor."
Coming two days after Lou Reed's death, it was nice to see a musical legend from the 1960s still going strong. Though Fogerty might be Reed's antithesis, unfailingly polite as Reed was rude. Country optimism to Reed's urbane cynicism. But they both wrote timeless songs and Reed's passing is a reminder our favorite troubadours won't be here forever.
So it was nice that between songs Fogerty occasionally gave us a history lesson, as he did when he shared a story about how CCR were invited to play Woodstock. They were to play Saturday night at 9:30, but things kept getting delayed. And with the Grateful Dead playing before them, it wasn't until 2:30 in the morning that they took the stage. John Fogerty was so excited. He looked out to see thousands of hippies just like him, but they were all naked, and worse, they were sleeping. The Grateful Dead had put them to sleep. Still CCR played and he could hear one voice in the distance. "Keep doing it John. I'm with you." And he realized that they were playing this whole set for that one person.
Laughs from the Hard Rock crowd.
"And right after that, I wrote this song for that one guy."
And then came that familiar tune, "Who'll Stop The Rain." And we were all with him.
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