John Fogerty muscles through his hits at birthday gig: Concert Review
John Fogerty turned Los Angeles’ stately, chandeliered El Rey Theater into a gritty roadhouse bar Tuesday night.
The 2-hour concert, which aired live on AXS TV, celebrated Fogerty’s 68th birthday and the release of his new album, “Wrote A Song For Everyone,” which features the Creedence Clearwater Revival rocker performing his greatest hits with artists ranging from the Foo Fighters to Miranda Lambert. As poster boards in the venue reminded patrons, May 28 also marked the 45th anniversary of the release of the first CCR album. (Read our review of "Wrote A Song For Everyone" here).
While it would have been totally understandable to expect a number of the guests on “Wrote A Song For Everyone” to show up for the album’s release party, other than Fogerty’s sons, who appear on “Lodi,” there were no such surprises. No one was stealing the show from the birthday boy. Early on, Fogerty explained that the Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl was celebrating his wife’s birthday as he launched into “Fortunate Son” and teased that Bob Seger might show up for “Who’ll Stop The Rain” before admitting that Seger was home in Detroit.
While it’s tempting to remark on Fogerty’s relentless energy for someone eligible for social security, the fact is his passion is laudable for an entertainer of any age. It’s clear he still relishes nothing more than ripping off a good guitar solo or going for an extended jam on such numbers as “Ramble Tamble,” a time-shifting, key-changing track from 1970’s “Cosmo’s Factory.” His many guitars got as good a work out as he did.
Fogerty front loaded the show with hits, including “Fortunate Son,” “Green River,” “Looking Out My Back Door” and “Born On The Bayou.” The middle section was devoted to swampy, long jams that were played with verve, but brought the energy level down from the opening, well-known tunes. Yes, he was the birthday boy and it was his party and his rules, but it sometimes felt like he was streamrolling through tunes such as “Somebody Help Me” and “Blue Moon Nights,” albeit with sterling accompaniment from the always reliable powerhouse Kenny Aronoff on drums.
The hit parade came back for the show’s latter portion with the non-stop roll of “Heard It Through The Grapevine,” “Keep on Chooglin,” “Have You Ever Seen The Rain,” “Oh, Pretty Woman,” “Centerfield,” “Old Man Down The Road” and then “Bad Moon Rising” and “Proud Mary” for encores. (The set list alone suggests that there could definitely be a “Wrote A Song For Everyone Vol. 2” given the number of hits left off the first edition).
“I love playing rock and roll for y’all and seeing the smiles on your faces,” Fogerty said to the audience toward the end. Perhaps that was the best birthday present of all.