After a couple of festival appearances in September, the legendary John Fogerty began his 2013 U.S. Fall tour in the 7,100-seat Nokia Theatre at L.A. Live with a rollicking 2 ½ set that offered little let up as Fogerty and his band performed hits and classic-rock staples from both his solo career and his Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band, Creedence Clearwater Revival.
The highlight for fans of CCR’s deep tracks was Fogerty’s announcement that Cosmo’s Factory was going to be played in its entirety this evening. However, opening the show with “Travelin’ Band,” a song that epitomizes life for a traveling group of musicians, revealed the album’s eleven tracks wouldn’t be played in order.
Speaking of musicians, Fogerty is touring with a talented group, drummer Kenny Aronoff, rhythm guitarist/son Shane Fogerty, bassist James Lomenzo, keyboardist Bob Malone, and multi-instrumentalist Devon Pangle. Though it takes six to recreate the music of four, the band plays like a well-oiled machine, and their precision doesn’t diminish the passion, which Fogerty delivers in spades.
While well known as singer and songwriter, seeing Fogerty live allows the opportunity to appreciate what a talent he is on guitar. He shined with some stellar licks during “Ramble Tamble,” an all-time personal favorite and one of the few instances from the CCR library where the music evokes what were then modern-day rock sounds as opposed to the roots music they typically emulated.
Fogerty joked about getting sued for sounding like himself before “Run Through the Jungle.” Green lights and smoke helped escort the audience into the swamp. Fogerty also blew harmonica. Stools were then brought out for the guitarists to sit on during a couple of driving blues covers, Bo Diddley’s “Before You Accuse Me” and Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup’s “My Baby Left Me.” During the former, Malone had some nice piano runs through the wall of guitars.
Fogerty shared an amusing story about playing Woodstock. Scheduled to perform at 9:30 pm after the Grateful Dead, they ended up finally going on at 2:30 am. “Who’ll Stop the Rain” derived from his experience at the festival. Beach balls fell from a catwalk, and it was awesome to see one knock the phone out of some dope’s hand. “I Heard It Though the Grapevine” provided an opportunity for the entire band to solo. The performance of Cosmo’s Factory concluded with “Long As I Can See the Light,” a soft, slow jam that allowed Fogerty to showcase the power of his voice, which sounds great at 68.
The selection from Fogerty’s solo material began to appear in the set, starting with “Centerfield.” On the video screens, he appears in pictures alongside his beloved Oakland A’s. During “Green River,” old 8mm footage of a much younger Fogerty was shown fishing. After an arrangement of “Lodi,” more raucous than the album track, the band played two new songs off Wrote a Song for Everyone, which gave the majority of the older folks in the audience a chance to catch their breath.
Just from the opening riff, the crowd went wild for “The Midnight Special,” and a little later, feedback alerted everyone to “Born on the Bayou.” Fogerty’s playing on the foot-stomper “Keep on Chooglin'” brought to mind Eddie Van Halen. He also played harmonica, and Aronoff got a drum solo. Fogerty grabbed an acoustic guitar for “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?” He introduced it saying it was originally a sad song about the band’s impending break-up, but he now finds it happy and optimistic. The crowd again accompanied on vocals when he pointed the microphone at them.
The main set ended with “Fortunate Son,” one of the best rock ‘n’ roll songs that gives the finger to the powers that be. With the government shut down at the time, Fogerty could have easily have made mention of the folks currently in Washington, but he wisely chose to let the song speak for itself. The band was barely gone for a minute when they returned to the stage, encoring with “Hey, Tonight,” and two of CCR’s biggest songs, “Bad Moon Rising” and “Proud Mary.”
As John Fogerty and his band keep rollin’ across the country, fans should definitely seek them out. If the Nokia was any indication, they deliver a great evening of rock music, and as a bonus, might be playing your favorite CCR album.