It Was A Family Affair For John Fogerty At The Hollywood Bowl REVIEW: John Fogerty at Hollywood Bowl 7/30/22
LOS ANGELES, CA- After missing the past few seasons, I headed back to the Hollywood Bowl at last to see legendary Creedence Clearwater Revival frontman John Fogerty. The Bowl remains one of my favorite places in Los Angeles, and there is no time to be there quite like this year’s season-long celebration of the iconic venue’s 100th anniversary. Singing along to incredible music under the stars – what more could you want?
The show opened with blues guitarist Cedric Burnside. Backed by just a drummer, Burnside played a brief but excellent set. While my own musical taste tends to be a pretty narrowly-focused Top 40 playlist, I would have happily listened to a much longer show. Performing powerful music from the heart, he demonstrated why he has won awards ranging from a Grammy to the National Endowment for the Arts’ National Heritage Fellowship.
John Fogerty then came on stage accompanied by a montage of images from CCR’s heyday, including photos of the band as well as of the social unrest of the era. Images of anti- Vietnam War protests unfurled as flames shot through the air. He was not the guy I expected to have pyrotechnics, but yet there they were from the beginning of the show on through to the end. Most of the concerts I’ve seen in the pandemic era have been fairly stripped down, with minimal staging and not much in the way of special effects. 2022, however, seems to have marked the return of full-bore extravaganzas. Flamethrowers and fireworks are back in force.
Throughout the show, Fogerty reflected on his life as a musician. He explained his origins, stating that he “loved music [his] whole life” and that he was “destined to be a rocker” as far back as his enthusiastic in-utero attendance at a performance of Beethoven.
I was a bit confused as his accent slipped in and out as he told his stories. Since I’d come to love the band in a pre-Google era, I’d somehow never realized that the man who spoke so deeply about being “born on the bayou” was born in… Berkeley. While the Bay Area isn’t exactly known for its swamps, Fogerty largely stays in character as he performs.
The story of his journey wound all the way to the recent lockdown era, as he described the creation of the family band he started with his children to pass the time during quarantines. With millions of views on YouTube, Fogerty’s Factory played CCR’s hits while highlighting Fogerty’s children Shane, Tyler, and Kelsy. The younger generation came on stage in various combinations throughout the evening, both to back their father’s hits and then, in a turnabout, to have him support his sons’ band Hearty Har.
Dressed in his trademark plaid and seeming to love every minute he was on stage, he radiated the joy of music. Credence songs like “Fortunate Son” retain their urgency, feeling as powerful now as they did in the days of Woodstock. Yet this is an older Fogerty, clearly softened with age and focused on his children.
A highlight of the show was Fogerty’s tale of being reunited with his long-lost guitar, which he had used for many of the band’s iconic moments. He described giving it away to a child during a low point in his life in the aftermath of CCR’s famously acrimonious break-up, then regretting later his decision. Decades later, his wife Julie was able to track it down and give it to him for Christmas. In front of a background of a candid photo of himself, pajama-clad and holding the guitar triumphantly beside the Christmas tree, Fogerty pulled out the guitar and used it to rock out in a joyous performance.
The biggest scene stealer of the night, however, was another special member of the family band: their dog Creedie – short for Creedence, of course. The golden retriever trotted in with the rest of the group, then wandered around their feet before resting on stage throughout their performance of “Lean on Me.” Seemingly unfazed by the noise and the thousands of spectators, he drew the spotlight and also emphasized how much a Fogerty performance is a family affair.
While I would love to have seen the surviving members of CCR together on stage, Fogerty and his former bandmates have made it very clear that is not in the cards. Under the circumstances, this was as perfect as an evening of Creedence Clearwater Revival music can be.
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