By Adrian Peel
Tonight’s gig from John Fogerty, the legendary singer, songwriter and driving force behind Creedence Clearwater Revival, began with a short video showing an interview with the musician, responsible for many of the most instantly-familiar tunes in rock, revealing how he first started writing songs.
He also expressed his delight at owning CCR‘s back catalogue once more after years of trying to get the songs back from the record company – a theme he would return to later in the evening. The video ended with the titles of many of these songs that we all know and love flashing up on the screen.
After he came out from the back of the stage, to an enthusiastic welcome from a not-quite-full O2, Fogerty instructed his son Shane Fogerty (his sons Shane and Tyler were both part of his band and also opened the show with their group, Hearty Har) to play Up Around the Bend off Creedence‘s acclaimed 1970 album, Cosmo’s Factory.
This was followed by the equally brilliant classic rock standards Green River and Born on the Bayou. The animated Fogerty constantly moved around the stage like a man half his age (he had turned 78 the day before, and there were a few cries of “Happy Birthday!” from the crowd but he didn’t seem to hear them), and also exclaimed how good he felt and how happy he was to be here, announcing that the last time he was at the O2 it was to watch Ed Sheeran.
Bringing out a beautiful Rickenbacker guitar, Fogerty revealed that he purchased it in “the first week of 1969” and that he put a Gibson guitar pickup on it, inspired by three guys in England: “Jimmy [Page], Jeff [Beck] and Eric [Clapton]” who plugged their Gibson guitars into Marshall amplifiers and made “the coolest sound ever made in rock ‘n roll”. Fogerty also noted that he played that particular guitar at Woodstock.
He recalled how he had given it away to a young fan who asked him for a guitar, and then how his wife Julie had managed to get it back for him 44 years later and gave it to him for Christmas (cue a photograph on the video screen of John in front of the Christmas tree in his pyjamas with the newly-returned instrument).
He also stated that he used it to write Who’ll Stop the Rain, which he then played. It was a stunning rendition, the singer’s unique and soulful voice still shining as brightly as it ever did, and that was definitely the case throughout the gig. The infectious groove that is Lookin’ Out My Back Door was another real highlight.
I also really enjoyed one CCR song with which I was less familiar, Run Through the Jungle, which included Fogerty playing a mean harmonica (is there anything he can’t do?), though I felt Joy of My Life, a song from his solo career about his wife, while enjoyable, lacked that gritty CCR feel and drifted more into mawkish AOR territory.
Have You Ever Seen the Rain drew a euphoric response, bringing much of the auditorium to their feet as we all passionately sang along. Those who were standing remained so for a breathtaking ‘triple whammy’ of Bad Moon Rising, Travelin’ Band and Down on the Corner, before Forgety got us all singing once again on the timeless Cotton Fields. The powerful Fortunate Son, a track forever associated with the Vietnam War, was the ideal way to bring the main set to a close.
Coming back out for the encore, the band played Rockin’ All Over the World first, a song made famous in this country, of course, by Status Quo – it’s one of those ones that you’d be forgiven for forgetting that Fogerty wrote, such has been his output over the years.
There was one song left and before singing it, the star spoke of the late Tina Turner, the “Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll” and how Proud Mary (yet another John Fogerty composition) had become her signature song. Understandably, he dedicated it to her.
This concert was everything a fan of CCR could want and, although it was nice to hear a couple of tunes from John Fogerty‘s somewhat lesser-known solo career, the evening was proof that the old songs really are the best.
Photos by Maria Escobedo