Wednesday, June 24, 2015

John Fogerty at Radio City Music Hall

John Fogerty and his older brother Tom Fogerty began playing guitars together in the late 1950s when they were in high school in El Cerrito, California. With fellow schoolmates Stu Cook on bass and Doug Clifford on drums, Tommy Fogerty & the Blue Velvets became The Golliwogs until in 1967 John took his brother's place as lead singer and the band became Creedence Clearwater Revival. In its four year career, Creedence Clearwater Revival had seven gold albums and 10 gold singles. Internal rifts doomed the band by 1972, and since then John Fogerty has started and stopped his solo career several times, winning a Grammy Award for best album in 1997. Fogerty's ninth and most recent album is 2013's Wrote a Song for Everyone.

Hearty Har, a Los Angeles-based rock quintet led by two of Fogerty's guitar-playing sons, Tyler Fogerty and Shane Fogerty, opened the night at Radio City Music Hall with an unadvertised 20-minute set. Shane would reappear after intermission as a member of his dad's band. For many years John Fogerty would not perform Creedence songs, but this tour was nearly entirely about Creedence songs. Fogerty titled the current tour as "One Extraordinary Year: John Fogerty Performs the Songs of Creedence Clearwater Revival, 1969," themed on the year when youth culture changed the world with Woodstock and Creedence enjoyed three Top 10 albums. A Broadway-styled production, the show began with a documentary video about 1969, with a soundtrack by several hard rock artists of the time; several similar videos would appear later in the show. The show was very much unlike 1969, however, a time when Creedence was a simple quartet playing a raw, swampy revival of old rock and roll structures. The new presentation was uber-slick, with a large band, LED light shows, fireworks, smoke and confetti. Nineteen of the show’s 26 songs were smoothly modernized reinterpretations of Creedence songs, and between many of these songs Fogerty shared extended and amusing memories of the band's early days, including the Woodstock appearance. Curiously, he never once named his former band mates and hardly ever the name of his previous band. The show went off-track several times, like when he brought out a rack of guitars and talked about his obsession for guitars and his wife's obsession with shoes, and when he played several new unlike-1969 songs. The saving grace of the performance was that most of the songs were rocking classics and Fogerty sang and played guitar super well. Despite the uneven mainstream-schlockiness of the production, one could never belittle John Fogerty's unique and extraordinary musical talents. Keep on choogling!

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