It’s pretty rare, these days, to find a pair of jumbo working lava lamps glowing on the stage before a concert. As if they were slow-bubbling flux capacitors, a lucky crowd at New York’s Capitol Theatre were transported back in time via the feel-good grooves of Creedence Clearwater Revival. John Fogerty, the legend behind the hits, performed with rollicking rock & roll flair, getting a wide range of ages hopping out of their seats. Mixed in with the older generation were plenty of kids with exactly this expression: “Oh, he wrote that song too!” And even hip adults flashed that face pretty often. Delightfully indicating that he’s aware of his own badassery, Fogerty’s merch makes a funny understatement about his prolific songwriting career. One tee sarcastically states, “John Fogerty wrote a song for Creedence” on the front and then, on the back, lists twenty-six well-known songs that he penned.
John Fogerty’s far out setlist stays pretty consistent from date to date, varying slightly in length by a few elective jams. NY was definitely treated to a longer edition with twenty-two of his energetic chart-toppers. Maybe it was Port Chester’s enduring hippie scene that brought out the bonus tracks. After all, one can still find those old bearded dudes in envious vintage Dead tees harmlessly hanging outside, and a tasty steal-your-face taco shop, Taqueria La Picardia, across the street from the rock sanctuary that is the Cap. If you want to feel like you’re visiting year 1970, this is already the place to be. The yesteryear atmosphere is uncanny, even more so with Fogerty’s triple-threat intro of “Up Around the Bend,” “Green River,” and “Born on the Bayou.” It was thrilling to hear how Fogerty’s voice still sounds like high-quality studio work etched into heavy vinyl.
It was so impressive to witness in person; the seventy-six-year-old icon was working his strings in a riff-laden fit of sonic prowess. In an exciting pause between the first two songs, Fogerty declared, “We’re all here to have a good rockin’ time. Look at us. We’re doing this again. Come on!” It was especially neat that he was performing with his sons, Shane and Tyler Fogerty, both of whom are blessed with their dad’s blues intensity. Fogerty joked proudly, “Perhaps you all notice some faint resemblances up here on this stage.” Announcing his insanely precise and powerful drummer, Kenny Aronoff, Fogerty sweetly rhapsodized, “Thank ya so much! I do want you to know that you are watching something veerrryy special, and I know you know. I know you know, because that guy – I mean that guy up there behind the drums. He is the prince of the paradiddle. He is the Tzar of syncopation. He is the bambino of boom! The world’s greatest rock and roll drummer, mister Kennnnnnethhhhh Aronoff!”
He and his band performed with such authentic swamp rock flavor, you could picture tie-dye and grass whenever you closed your eyes. In addition to hit after CCR hit – including “Who’ll Stop the Rain,” “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?” and “Fortunate Son” – we got some rich covers too; fiery takes on “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” by Gladys Knight & the Pips, “New Orleans” by Gary “U.S.” Bonds, “Cotton Fields” by Lead Belly, and “Good Golly Miss Molly” by Little Richard. The Rock & Roll Hall of Famer operated with a caffeinated and contagious grin – whether head-bopping to the cowbell on “Down on the Corner” or whipping out his baseball bat guitar on “Centerfield.” Notably, Fogerty is the only musician who’s been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame for that classic, a staple at U.S. stadiums.
The Capitol Theatre got a sweet bit of gear history when Fogerty paused to share an endearing tale. “Well, I should tell you a little bit about this guitar. I bought this Rickenbacker guitar back in the first week of 1969. Unusual story – you know, in 1968, me and my band, Creedence, had done a record called Susie Q. And it was a little bit of a novelty, kind of a psychedelic raver, you might say. And we found ourselves in the end of that year, in that enviable position, like a million other people, a ONE HIT WONDER!” For the record, only Fogerty can suddenly comic-book shriek like that amid each anecdote and still sound completely relaxed. “And that scared the heck out of me. So I said, ‘Man, maybe I’d better do something to increase my odds.’ So I got this guitar and I made a whole bunch of modifications to it, which I won’t bore you with, except for one: I put a humbucker pickup right here in the bridge position, ‘cause I’d heard about these fellas over in England named Jeff, Jimmy, and Eric.”
“Anyway, they were all plugging their Les Paul guitars into a Marshall amp and making an extraordinary rock and roll sound. So I got a Les Paul pickup and I put it right here on my guitar. That was about a decade before Eddie Van Halen did the same thing with his guitar. Well then, lo and behold, you know, about 1972; my band breaks up, my marriage breaks up, my career breaks up. And some little kid comes by the factory and says, ‘Hey John.’ ‘Yeah, what ya doing here buddy?’ ‘Can I have one of your guitars?’ And I looked at this one and said, ‘Sure.’ Don’t ask me why. I’ve made a few bad decisions. But anyway, I didn’t see that guitar for a lonnnnnng time, until my beautiful wife Julie went out into the meadowlands or whatever they call it, hinterlands, and forty-four years later, I got my guitar back! And I’ll tell you what: I played this guitar at Wooooodstoooock! Oh yeah. That’s another story. Come back tomorrow night and I’ll tell you all about Woodstock.”
In his ever-chill Bob Ross-y speaking voice, Fogerty prefaced the two-song encore with radio spot charm. “Thank-ya-thank-ya-thank-ya! Thank you so much for that. It means a lot. You know, I got the best job in the whole world. I get to play music for people who are havin’ a good time, like YOUUU! Thanks for having us back up here. We love playing for ya. We got a couple more for ya, right now!” He dipped into a “Bad Moon Rising” that was nearly buried in squeals, then a bright finale of “Proud Mary” that jazzed up the crowd once more. The high-pitched “woo!”s at each impact crackled like popcorn around the Cap as Fogerty showed us the art of getting feet stomping and making a full room feel mighty fine.
Article: Olivia Isenhart