Elvis Presley may have been the king of rock 'n' roll, but John Fogerty is surely the sultan of songwriters.
Close your eyes when the former Creedence Clearwater Revival frontman bellows out one of his seemingly countless hit songs and you're easily transported to a swamp in the bayou or a lively street corner. If you let your mind drift even deeper, you're suddenly running through a war-torn jungle in Vietnam.
As Fogerty took the stage at the MTS Centre on Thursday night in front of more than 8,000 mostly middle-aged fans who knew his songs by heart but couldn't wait to hear them again, he didn't have much to say before he got down to business. "Come on, let's have a good time," he announced to the crowd with a vibrant voice that defies his 67-year-old vocal cords.
He jumped out of the gate with Lookin' Out My Back Door and in short order it became apparent Fogerty can still hit the high notes he's famous for. Unlike many artists of his generation who have run out of gas and seem to prefer talking us through their songs, Fogerty has admirably maintained a fresh-sounding voice that continues to not only showcase his vocal range but also seems to keep his songs sounding relevant.
He moved quickly into Ooby Dooby, a bluesy version of a somewhat obscure Roy Orbison song, but it worked nicely to show off Fogerty's legendary guitar chops. Before breaking into Who'll Stop the Rain, he reminisced about CCR's performance at Woodstock way back in 1969. Yeah, Fogerty was at Woodstock.
Things got swampy when Run Through the Jungle arrived flanked by some creepy green lights and enough fake fog to blanket the first 10 rows. I've seen better smoke shows in my neighbour's garage but hey, nobody was expecting a huge stage show at a Fogerty concert. The man up front was the attraction and he kept it simple with a plaid shirt and blue jeans, and so did most of the crowd come to think of it, while the rest all seemed to be wearing Harley-Davidson T-shirts.
He moved through the night with a quick step and never really took a break, laying out both CCR and solo hits alongside covers like Before You Accuse Me by Bo Diddley and possibly the most famous cover song of all time, CCR's version of the Miracles' I Heard it Through the Grapevine.
By press time he was belting out Midnight Special and the local yahoos were shaking up the arena as if at a good old barn dance. It was a sure bet he would finish with hits such as Bad Moon Rising, Down on the Corner and Proud Mary, as the hits just seemed to keep on rolling.
A night with Fogerty reminds us, love him or hate him, just how much his music has been a soundtrack to our lives. He has been there with us from high school dances to weddings, divorces, grimy bars and the radio of every single car that has taken us there.
Thanks to his distinct voice and the questions his songs ask, the encouragement they deliver and the words of warning they resound, there's no denying John Fogerty has left an indelible mark on the face of music. He proved that Thursday night with one terrific song after another.... as if the 140 million records sold worldwide hadn't already done that for him.
Thursday, September 20, 2012
Attendance: 8,000 according to security (not confirmed by MTS PR)
HHHH OUT OF HHHHH 4 out of 5