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Concert review: John Fogerty at Deer Valley

by on June 22, 2012

One tends to forget just how many great rock ‘n’ roll songs John Fogerty is responsible for; even a fan can find some forgotten gems when the former Creedence Clearwater Revival leader takes the stage and lights into his catalog of bluesy, Southern-tinged swamp-rock.

At Fogerty’s near-capacity show at Deer Valley Thursday night, those gems kept popping up among the tried-and-true old favorites that filled his set. For every “Hey Tonight” and “Green River”–the two songs that opened the show–there were tunes I hadn’t thought of in years, like “Lodi” or “Long As I Can See the Light.”

Right from the start just after 8 p.m. on a stunningly perfect summer night on the hillside, Fogerty and his top-notch band delivered stellar takes on hit after hit. The man just turned 67 at the end of May, but Fogerty’s voice, and especially his guitar chops, have not seemed to age at all. He always had that distinct Southern drawl even when he was young, and it’s still there in his older years; Fogerty punctuated many a song with a drawn-out “Thank Ewwwww!”

Fogerty didn’t spend a lot of time chatting up the crowd between songs. Even when he claimed he was going to tell a story, it was usually something quick. Early on, introducing “Who’ll Stop the Rain?,” he pronounced, “Many years ago, I was at a  place called Woodstock. It was kind of like this. Except you all are way better looking, and I’m SURE you all have a lot more money.”

Well, yeah. But if his stage patter left something to be desired, his music didn’t. With powerhouse drummer Kenny Aronoff leading an excellent batch of backing musicians, Fogerty ripped through songs like “Looking Out My Back Door,” “Born on a Bayou” and “Rambunctious Boy.” The opening notes of “The Midnight Special” caused the crowd to roar, and “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?” turned into a massive singalong.

Playing upwards of two hours and more than 20 songs, Fogerty’s energy never flagged; he and his band worked out some monster instrumental interludes at various points during the show that would have floored much younger bands, but these guys would just chug right into the next song.

A cover of Roy Orbison’s “Pretty Woman” was a pleasant surprise, “Heard It Through the Grapevine” was sublime, “The Night Time is the Right Time” gave the band a chance to work out a traditional blues sound, and “Down on the Corner” was a joyful romp.

That pretty much goes for the whole night. It’s hard to beat an American master, leading an ace band, delivering a greatest-hits set, especially when the hits still sound so relevant. A lot of classic rock artists have had their songs worn out by too many spins on the radio and too many tours, but Fogerty’s songs don’t seem stale in the least.

Just honestly, truly, classic.

From → Concert reviews

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