When John Fogerty and Creedence Clearwater Revival stepped on stage at Woodstock in the summer of 1969 for their first big break, they followed a little band called the Grateful Dead.
“We went onstage at 12:30 that night,” said Mr. Fogerty. “I looked down in front of the stage and there were a bunch of naked people… and they were asleep!”
No one was asleep — or naked — Saturday night at the Meadows Casino and Racetrack to see the Fortunate Son himself on the “Rollin’ On The River” tour.
The 71-year-old Mr. Fogerty is a long way away from his days playing in front of sleeping hippies but you wouldn’t know that by listening to him.
He ran onstage just after 8 p.m. and joined his band for a rocking version of “Travelin’ Band” to kick off a night that would be jam-packed with classic rock anthems.
Creedence Clearwater Revival, Mr. Fogerty’s former group, may not have gotten the recognition it deserved for producing some of the ‘70s best, most enduring, rock songs. That was demonstrated when Mr. Fogerty strummed the opening notes to “Born On The Bayou.”
Any doubts about Mr. Fogerty’s guitar playing were put to rest as he casually broke into solos that could’ve come from a bootlegged 1971 CCR tape. His guitar playing is swirled into an ever-young stage presence. Mr. Fogerty still runs across the stage, guitar in hand, belting out his lyrics in that signature raspy, southern fried voice with the vigor of a much younger man.
Of course, Mr. Fogerty was never known as a rock n’ roll bad boy, preferring the calm solitude of the outdoors and married life to the fast living of his contemporaries.
In fact, after “Heart Rod Heart,” and “Susie Q” Mr. Fogerty mentioned that he and his wife had recently celebrated 25 years of marriage. “This the first love song I’ve ever written, and I wrote it for her,” Mr. Fogerty said before a beautiful version of “Joy Of My Life.”
The band that played behind him wasn’t overshadowed by the rock legend’s skills. After all, Mr. Fogerty’s son, Shane Fogerty, plays guitar right next to his father onstage. Keyboardist Bob Malone may have been the best musician on the stage outside of Mr. Fogerty himself. Mr. Malone not only broke out a piano solo, but a crowd pleasing accordion solo, too.
The show continued with a cover of the Leadbelly tune “Midnight Special.” The band then played a rearranged version of “Lodi,” that featured a back and forth guitar solo featuring the father/son combo of Fogertys.
“I Heard It Through the Grapevine” got the older crowd moving and Mr. Fogerty capitalized by playing the classic “Have You Ever Seen The Rain,” dedicated to his daughter.
The hits weren’t over as he reached further into the Creedence library with another classic, “Down on the Corner.” After, Mr. Fogerty picked up a baseball bat-shaped guitar and everyone knew what was coming next: a stirring rendition of “Centerfield.” If fans weren’t singing along before, they all were now.
“Fortunate Son” followed and the crowd roared for the anti-war anthem while a montage of 1970s war protests and footage of soldiers played behind the band.
The band returned for an encore that began when Fogerty played the opening riff of “Bad Moon Rising.” “Proud Mary” closed the show as the entire crowd sang along.
You can never turn back time, but Mr. Fogerty doesn’t need to. His “glory days” of music aren’t behind him; he’s still living them into his ’70s. He certainly still has all the skills and the band that accompanied him complemented those skills masterfully. A lot has changed for Mr. Fogerty since that late night at Woodstock, but his classic sound certainly hasn’t.
Anthony Mendicino: email@example.com.