Review: ‘John Fogerty’

John Fogerty (House of Blues; 1,000 capacity; $ 35) Presented inhouse. Band: Fogerty, Johnny Lee Schell, Kenny Aronoff, Bob Glaub, Michael Canipe. Opened and reviewed May 21, 1997; continues May 23 and 24. The John Fogerty that fans have been clamoring for in the 25 years since Creedence Clearwater Revival broke up has finally arrived. Energized by a new album that relies on CCR riffs and his unique moonlight-in-the-bayou howl, Fogerty rolls out credible, straightforward renditions of virtually every well-known Creedence number and peppers the show with enough new material for the older fans --- and there are plenty of those --- to draw a connection between worthwhile new material and the old. Fogerty's plan in the month following Tuesday's release of the new Warners disc, "Blue Moon Swamp," is to hit small venues in select cities --- San Francisco was first , followed by three nights in L.A., then Chi, Toronto, New York, Nashville and Atlanta. Word will certainly get out that the CCR classics have returned to the repertoire, despite all the previously expressed anger, lawsuits and dismissal of the earlier material, and will pave the way for a considerably larger tour of 5,000-10,000-seaters. This could easily be the biggest surprise of the summer. Best of all, Fogerty wasted no time in showing his p.o.v.: a straight half-hour of CCR numbers opened the show ("Born on the Bayou," "Lodi," "Green River" set the boat rolling) and after 80 minutes, only three new tunes had made it into the set list. But within that time, Fogerty was an ace study in dynamics: He moved from upbeat vintage hits to stirring renditions --- backed by the gospel quintet the Fairfield Four --- of the new swamp ballad "A Hundred and Ten in the Shade" and the traditional "Midnight Special"; turned to a softer session with the Dobro on "Workin' on a Building" (the lone tune from his classic Blue Ridge Rangers disc) and "Joy of My Life," the first love song he has ever written; and bounded with a fury into his biggest solo hit, "Centerfield," performed on a baseball bat-shaped guitar. Fogerty's still-gritty voice, working overtime on those enunciations that are equal parts Bay Area, bayou and Bayonne, is still the focal point along with the songs, but he seems much more assured as a guitarist. Granted some solos have a carbon-copy feel, elsewhere he's more pinpoint in his articulation or relaxed in the overall feel; the war horses "Suzie Q" and "I Put a Spell on You" had a more easily deciphered gruffness. He cut through the muddied psychedelia of CCR's renditions of '68 and made them simultaneously weighty and modern. What hasn't been calculated well enough is how to better mesh the new material and hasten the changing of guitars. (Fogerty must travel with a good dozen.) At two hours and 10 minutes, he's logging some serious stage time and there isn't enough oomph in the final 45 minutes to sustain interest. His chattiness with particular audience members, usually about a guitar's age, broke down some of his button-down image, but it grew a bit wearisome for those in the back of the hall literally singing along on every song. The half-dozen numbers culled from the new disc in Wednesday's show, all of which got a dose of overdrive from drummer Kenny Aronoff and his almost too-perfect band, lack the across-the-board appeal of "Centerfield," and Warners certainly has a challenge trying to find a pop single on this disc. (Early sales returns suggest "Blue Moon Swamp" should land in next week's top 10.) Fogerty, who turns 52 this month, may find his breakthrough on country radio this time around, but then again, the public might finally respond to a well-made gospel tune like "Hundred and Ten in the Shade." ---Phil Gallo

John Fogerty (House of Blues; 1,000 capacity; $ 35) Presented inhouse. Band: Fogerty, Johnny Lee Schell, Kenny Aronoff, Bob Glaub, Michael Canipe. Opened and reviewed May 21, 1997; continues May 23 and 24. The John Fogerty that fans have been clamoring for in the 25 years since Creedence Clearwater Revival broke up has finally arrived. Energized by a new album that relies on CCR riffs and his unique moonlight-in-the-bayou howl, Fogerty rolls out credible, straightforward renditions of virtually every well-known Creedence number and peppers the show with enough new material for the older fans — and there are plenty of those — to draw a connection between worthwhile new material and the old. Fogerty’s plan in the month following Tuesday’s release of the new Warners disc, “Blue Moon Swamp,” is to hit small venues in select cities — San Francisco was first , followed by three nights in L.A., then Chi, Toronto, New York, Nashville and Atlanta. Word will certainly get out that the CCR classics have returned to the repertoire, despite all the previously expressed anger, lawsuits and dismissal of the earlier material, and will pave the way for a considerably larger tour of 5,000-10,000-seaters. This could easily be the biggest surprise of the summer. Best of all, Fogerty wasted no time in showing his p.o.v.: a straight half-hour of CCR numbers opened the show (“Born on the Bayou,” “Lodi,” “Green River” set the boat rolling) and after 80 minutes, only three new tunes had made it into the set list. But within that time, Fogerty was an ace study in dynamics: He moved from upbeat vintage hits to stirring renditions — backed by the gospel quintet the Fairfield Four — of the new swamp ballad “A Hundred and Ten in the Shade” and the traditional “Midnight Special”; turned to a softer session with the Dobro on “Workin’ on a Building” (the lone tune from his classic Blue Ridge Rangers disc) and “Joy of My Life,” the first love song he has ever written; and bounded with a fury into his biggest solo hit, “Centerfield,” performed on a baseball bat-shaped guitar. Fogerty’s still-gritty voice, working overtime on those enunciations that are equal parts Bay Area, bayou and Bayonne, is still the focal point along with the songs, but he seems much more assured as a guitarist. Granted some solos have a carbon-copy feel, elsewhere he’s more pinpoint in his articulation or relaxed in the overall feel; the war horses “Suzie Q” and “I Put a Spell on You” had a more easily deciphered gruffness. He cut through the muddied psychedelia of CCR’s renditions of ’68 and made them simultaneously weighty and modern. What hasn’t been calculated well enough is how to better mesh the new material and hasten the changing of guitars. (Fogerty must travel with a good dozen.) At two hours and 10 minutes, he’s logging some serious stage time and there isn’t enough oomph in the final 45 minutes to sustain interest. His chattiness with particular audience members, usually about a guitar’s age, broke down some of his button-down image, but it grew a bit wearisome for those in the back of the hall literally singing along on every song. The half-dozen numbers culled from the new disc in Wednesday’s show, all of which got a dose of overdrive from drummer Kenny Aronoff and his almost too-perfect band, lack the across-the-board appeal of “Centerfield,” and Warners certainly has a challenge trying to find a pop single on this disc. (Early sales returns suggest “Blue Moon Swamp” should land in next week’s top 10.) Fogerty, who turns 52 this month, may find his breakthrough on country radio this time around, but then again, the public might finally respond to a well-made gospel tune like “Hundred and Ten in the Shade.” —Phil Gallo

John Fogerty

House of Blues; 1,000 capacity; $35; Opened and reviewed May 21, 1997; continues May 23 and 24.

Production

Presented inhouse.

Cast

Band: Fogerty, Johnny Lee Schell, Kenny Aronoff, Bob Glaub, Michael Canipe.
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