The litmus-paper test of a memorable concert? For me, a show only really works if I make the walk home afterwards with a tune from it lodged firmly in my head. It hasn’t happened for a while now, but tonight I was truly spoilt for choice. How could you choose between two Rock classics like ‘Bad Moon Rising’ and ‘Proud Mary’? Plans for a support slot were dropped, and truthfully, anyone would have just been a distraction. This was a trip firmly focussed on the past – 50 years to be approximate, August 1969 to be precise. History was made, iconic moments captured on film forever, an era captured on videotape – excepting one particular performance. Here at Kunstrasen, we have the chance to enjoy what landed on the cutting room floor – the best songs of CCR Front-man John Fogerty.
In the early hours of the morning, as John Fogerty recalls at the start of today’s show, The Grateful Dead finally finished a massively over-timed set. Creedence Clearwater Revival took the stage “warming-up for Janis Joplin” as Fogerty later described the set. It was Fogerty himself who vetoed use of film footage from the later Woodstock cinema epic. As a result, CCR doomed themselves to become the band that no-one remembers from Woodstock. Funny how time changes things then. The very same John Fogerty is now mentioning this classic Festival in pretty well every between-song break. Pictures from it are everywhere in the pre-show film on the backscreen. It’s been 50 years after all. CCR’s Woodstock appearance has recently (finally) been released too. A coincidence? I think not.
Whatever you might think of the sudden rediscovery of John Fogerty’s links to Woodstock though, there is no denying that the Man himself is an enigma. Here he is, aged 74, stepping onto the stage in Bonn at the start of an epic two-hour set. He looks, at most, 54. He runs about the stage like you should cut that age in half again. But here he is talking about a Rickenbacker guitar he bought in the late 60’s – and yes, that he “played at THAT Festival!” The guitar has its own fascinating story too which you can read HERE
I was only 13 years old When CCR split up so it’s not quite my musical era. I was also born on the wrong side of the Ocean. Vietnam to me means the TV programme MASH and, outside of the Moon landing and Richard Nixon’s Watergate escapades, it’s a sketchy time period. I can imagine though that songs like ‘Fortunate Son’ and ‘Run Through the Jungle’ must have resonated deeply with the youth of the day.
Seeing a tiny khaki painted helicopter fly into view on the screen behind Fogerty makes me shiver a little it’s true, but the songs in 2019 now have to stand on their own musically, and for the most part, they do. A good rock song remains just that. Numbers like ‘Keep on Chooglin’ and ‘Susie Q’ seem like museum pieces to me, but others, like ‘Have You Seen The Rain’ and ‘Rocking All Over The World’ (yes, the Quo classic stems from a 1975 Fogerty disc!) Prove that class really is timeless.
Talking of timeless classics, Fogerty takes a space in the evening’s entertainment to play a few classic numbers from others. ‘Heard it Through the Grapevine’ was hard-hitting thanks to the literal hard-hitting of drummer Kenny Aronoff (John Mellencamp Band) and Fogerty’s vocal on Joe Cocker’s ‘Little Help from my Friends’ would have met with approval by Cocker himself – in fact, Fogerty’s vocals all evening were spot-on.
There was also plenty of room given to the very fortunate sons of John Fogerty. Shane and Tyler, who get to play in their father’s magnificent band, both have a band of their own too, but playing shows worldwide to huge audiences must be gold dust where experience is concerned. Guitarist Shane Fogerty comes across as rather shy but launches into a Hendrixesque ‘Star-Spangled Banner’ that shows he isn’t one to stay in the shadows. A chip off of the old block since father John added a humbucker to his Rickenbacker a good ten years before Eddie Van Halen introduced us to the beauty of guitar distorted histrionics. In short, Shane very much earns his place in dad’s band with some fine guitar playing. Tyler gets up for an entertaining vocal on ‘Good Golly Miss Molly’ too. It’s not enough to truly measure his vocal talents, but it’s family fun that we all get to enjoy.
By the time a barrage of ticker-tape engulfs the stage at shows end no reasonable music-goer could complain. Great classic Rock tunes, played by a very capable band and led by a legend who clearly enjoys playing music and has come to terms with the disenchantment that ripped apart one of America’s premier early 70’s Rock bands. I head for home with ‘Bad Moon Rising‘ and ‘Proud Mary’ vying for attention in my brain. They really don’t write ’em like that anymore. Long may John Fogerty love playing music and long may we benefit from his pleasure in doing so.