John Fogerty dubbed his tour that made it to Hard Rock Live on Sunday night the Celebration Tour. In the short film that preceded the concert, he explained why. While peers like Bob Dylan and Neil Young are selling off the copyrights to their great songs, Fogerty bought back the copyrights for the Creedence Clearwater Revival hits he wrote half a century ago. And a few minutes into his 18-song set, he told the audience how much it meant to him: "We are here to rock 'n' roll. I just got my songs back, so we're going to play them all."
While fans of "Susie Q" and "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" might have been disappointed Fogerty and his band didn't take a stab at any of their famous covers, this was a show and tour meant for the songs Fogerty wrote.
From the opener "Bad Moon Rising," Fogerty ripped through eight of the nine top ten hits he wrote for Creedence Clearwater Revival from 1968 through 1972. Clad in a blue flannel shirt, jeans, and a bandana tied around his neck that I'd only seen cowboys and a teenager trying to hide a hickey wear, Fogerty was backed by a five-member band. The band included two of the star's sons, guitarists Shane and Tyler Fogerty. The brothers started the evening with an opening set by their band Hearty Har, which played 1960s garage rock.
For the most part, the band did a passable job of replicating the recordings. Fogerty's voice is now less wild, more wholesome than on the albums. But even at 78, he still has the energy and charisma to capture attention.
Unfortunately, while he was moving around the stage spryly, the crowd was dead. It was a little jarring to hear all these fast-paced, catchy ditties surrounded by a silent and seated audience that was more reminiscent of a dinner theater than a rock show. Still, they were attentive and laughing when Fogerty told stories, especially the one about his red Rickenbacker guitar.
"I purchased this guitar back in the first week of 1969. I played this guitar at Woodstock," he told the crowd. He spoke about the adjustments he made to have it sound more like Jimmy Page or Eric Clapton. "And then in 1972, my band had broken up, my wife and I broke up, and my dog bit me. A 12-year-old kid asked for a guitar, and I gave him this one. Forty-four years later, my wife found it. Forty-four years later, I got my baby back." He then strummed the guitar for a rendition of "Who'll Stop the Rain."
The highlight of the night was in the longest song, "Keep on Chooglin'," which Fogerty started by noodling with a blistering guitar solo. As the band went into psychedelic territory, Fogerty seemed to struggle with some technical difficulties with his harmonica, but he finally got the acoustics to work and choogled some amazing sounds into the microphone before slamming the harmonica to the stage floor for emphasis.
Also of interest was "Fight Fire," a song by his band before Creedence Clearwater Revival, known as the Golliwogs. It sounded less like the Southern rock jamboree sound CCR is known for and more like a band influenced by the Sixties British Invasion.
After an uneven version of "Fortunate Son," Fogerty poured himself some champagne and toasted his good fortune. All these years later, he finally owned his writing again. "I outlived those sons of bitches," he said as he sipped from the champagne flute.
- "Bad Moon Rising"
- "Up Around the Bend"
- "Green River"
- "Born on the Bayou"
- "Who'll Stop the Rain"
- "Lookin' Out My Back Door"
- "Rock and Roll Girls"
- "Fight Fire"
- "Run Through the Jungle"
- "Joy of My Life"
- "Keep On Chooglin'"
- "Have You Ever Seen the Rain?"
- "Down on the Corner"
- "The Old Man Down the Road"
- "Fortunate Son"
- "Proud Mary"