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Old 08.07.2006, 14:36
johnfoyle johnfoyle is offline
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The Independent, July 3 '06

In the late l960s and early 1970s, John Fogerty’s abrasive voice and growling guitar kept simple, loud rock‘n’roll, such as the huge hits “Proud Mary”, “Bad Moon Rising” and “Up Around the Bend”, in the charts. When The Beatles split up, his band, Creedence Clearwater Revival, became the biggest in the world. But they were disintegrating.

During the decades of litigation that followed, Fogerty was unwilling or unable to play his hits. There were new records, such as 1985’s well-received Centerfield, and new classics (“Rocking All over the World”), but it took a personal crossroads at the grave of Robert Johnson to free him from his past. A compilation of CCR and Fogerty classics, The Long Road Home, came out in 2005, a DVD this year, and now this first UK gig in three and a half decades. To a thunderous reception, he launches into “Travelin’ Band”, “Green River”, “Have You Ever Seen the Rain” and more. But the sound is awful: Fogerty’.. voice is too far back and the drums are inaudible. The man himself, clad in a dark-blue shirt and pressed blue flares, scampers, smiling, across the stage as he coaxes riff after lick after classic intro from a succession of guitars, yet his musicians seem paralysed by the problems. A let-down threatens.

Then, in “Commotion”, something changes and, by “Long As I Can See the Light”, the drums are thundering and Fogerty’s voice is in the right place. The crowd responds deliriously, dancing despite the efforts of the Apollo’s entertainment police, in the aisles.
Now it is glorious, life-affirming rock’n’roll, a celebration of the guitar (some times there are four six-strings and one bass in play) and of some of the best songs ever written. He plays for near1y twohours. Every number is a rip-snorting take on a classic. Only once does he change mood, in an acoustic rendition of 2004’s “D?j? Vu All Over Again”, in front of overlapping images of Vietnam and Iraq.

“I Heard It Through the Grapevine” features a classic guitar duel, “Sweet
Little Hitchhiker” is a screamer, and he also does.. well, he does everything the Eighties comeback hits, even the Creedence wig-out “Keep on Chooglin’ “.

He encores with the antiestablishment “Fortunate Son” in front of a Stars and Stripes decked with guitars, and finishes with “Proud Mary” ag~1inst the backdrop of a moonlit swamp. It has been a testament to the power, the genius, of one of the greatest songwriters and rock’n’roll guitarists, but, more than that, it has been fabulous fun. Look on his works, ye supposed mighty, and despair.

Simon Hardeman
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