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Live review: John Fogerty at the Lyric

November 7, 2013

00112In an interview with The Washington Post last week, John Fogerty said this of his days at the helm of the pioneering ’60s and ’70s swamp rock band Creedence Clearwater Revival: “I was sort of an unstoppable force.” He was talking about the CCR’s creative efficiency in its six-year stretch. But seeing him work through the band’s material some four decades later, at the age of 68, it’s clear his live show bears a similar energy. On Wednesday night at the Lyric, Fogerty and a backing band of four musicians played all of Creedence’s second album, Bayou Country, and a slew of other hits, and at no point did Fogerty, the frontman and lead guitarist, show any signs of slowing up.

Though his voice has inevitably changed as he’s gotten older, Fogerty’s singing still have that signature grit and Louisiana-by-way-of-Berkeley twang that were hallmarks in Creedence’s material –  those unique-to-Fogerty affectations like “hoyd it through the grapevine” or “keep on chOOglin’.” He sounded just as good as ever.

Perhaps more impressive was his work on the guitar. Plenty of guitarists in Fogerty’s age range require additional support to mask deteriorating skills. With only one other guitarist, who mostly played rhythm parts, on stage, the sexagenarian aced pretty much every solo, drawing heavenly squeals from the instrument during the spacey breakdown of “Ramble Tamble” or squalls of feedback during “Born On the Bayou.”

The album-in-a-show trope is old hat by now, but this set was different in that the order of Bayou Country was shuffled up quite a bit — “Proud Mary,” the most well-known song on the album, for example, didn’t come until the encore. Still, there was little doubt this was  a nostalgia trip for the performer and his mostly Baby Boomer audience. Before the show even started, there was an introductory video with old concert footage and interview clips, a highlight reel of Fogerty’s own greatness. Certain songs were paired with clips from the past; most hilariously, the baseball-themed solo career hit “Centerfield” included shots of Fogerty suiting up in an Oakland Athletics uniform and pulling a guitar from the bat rack. In a less corny touch, Fogerty would sometimes take time in between songs to share stories or talk about a song’s origins or meanings, a la VH1 Storytellers.

Even so, with a songbook as good as Creedence’s and a performer who still has the showmanship flair and skills of Fogerty, a victory lap was more than welcome.

Click here for more photos of the show by Dave Roberts.

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