John Fogerty treated the Hollywood Bowl to CCR hits and gems from his own solo catalog on July 15.
Spending a midsummer’s night at the Hollywood Bowl surrounded by the picturesque landscape and people who share a common love for the music set to be played that night is always a good thing. When the artist is an American rock legend John Fogerty, the evening can be magical.
The theme for July 15’s programming was 1969, the year that Fogerty released three multi-platinum albums (Bayou Country, Green River, Willy and the Poor Boys) with Creedence Clearwater Revival. It was a time of great cultural and political unrest, but it was also a monumental period for music. The Bay Area foursome performed at Woodstock that year, as well as the Hollywood Bowl.
After an energetic performance by Hearty Har – featuring Fogerty’s sons (Shane and Tyler) on guitars and vocals – to a sold-out Bowl last night, a video presented images from the era that ended with footage of a live performance of “Born on the Bayou.” As the guitar intro to CCR’s signature song emitted from the speakers, Fogerty appeared on the stage under a curtain of smoke and sparkling fireworks to start singing, “Now when I was just a little boy standing’ to my daddy’s knee.”
Familiar CCR tunes continued with “Travelin’ Band” and “Up Around the Bend” before Fogerty recalled a story from their Woodstock performance of having to follow the Grateful Dead at 4:30 a.m. Then he began playing “Who’ll Stop the Rain,” which he wrote after the festival as a reflection to his experiences there.
After playing the first love song he ever wrote, “Joy of My Life,” for his wife Julie, he carted out his entire collection of guitars, admitting that it was a lot of guitars but nothing in comparison to Julie’s shoe collection. Fogerty sampled a few bars on several of the instruments, from a bright red Fender Telecaster and a Rickenbacker (on which he teased a bit of “Susie Q,” the song’s only appearance in the set) to a custom Les Paul – designed to match his trademark blue plaid shirt – that he used to transition into “The Midnight Special.”
Throughout the night, the audience swayed and sang along to CCR tunes like “Looking’ Out My Back Door,” “Ramble Tamble” and “Lodi,” their covers (“I Heard It Through the Grapevine”) and Fogerty’s solo material (“Hey Tonight” and “Mystic Highway”). The loudest cheers, however, came at the end of the night when he started to play “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?” which was just the first in a string of super recognizable songs to be played.
“Down on the Corner,” “Centerfield” (for which Fogerty fittingly played on a baseball bat-shaped guitar) and “Fortunate Son” all came in quick succession, as the band tried to fit everything in before their set time was up. Although the space in between each song was rushed, the performances were not. Each of Fogerty’s musicians were given a chance to shine: drummer Kenny Aronoff pounded out some tremendous solos, Shane Fogerty wowed the audience with guitar chops that were on par with his father’s, bassist James LoMenzo got the crowd’s hearts thumping and Bob Malone commanded on the keyboards.
After a very brief break, they all returned to the stage for an encore of two CCR songs that were released in 1969 – the lead single from Green River, “Bad Moon Rising,” and “Proud Mary” from Bayou Country. Not only are these two of the most popular songs that Fogerty has ever written, they are my personal favorites. Needless to say, they were the perfect end to what most definitely turned out to be a magical night.