It was billed as John Fogarty’s 50-year trip. It lived up to its billing.
Since April the former Creedence Clearwater Revival frontman has been criss-crossing America, sharing his memories and his music. The Woodstock Festival was 50 years ago this month. CCR were headliners. Nostalgia is in full bloom.
One thing you didn’t see at a rock concert in 1969 were people with canes and walkers. The music of youthful rebellion is now embraced by senior citizens. Seems a little strange, but as the Grateful Dead remind us, “what a long strange trip it’s been.”
At 74 Fogarty is still a powerful singer who puts on an energetic show. He gives the audience what they want: the hits. More than that, he takes them on a musical voyage into the past, allowing them to revisit their youth.
I last saw Fogarty perform at the 2016 Ottawa Bluefest, and wasn’t expecting anything different – a greatest hits from his CCR career and a smattering of his solo tunes. For this tour though, there were some additions. The man who performed at Woodstock played some cover tunes, hits by bands who were also at that festival. He dazzled with Jimi Hendrix’s arrangement of “The Star Spangled Banner” and covered tunes from Sly and the Family Stone (Everyday People/Dance To The Music), Joe Cocker (who was himself covering The Beatles back in 1969). No, he doesn’t sound like those people, but somehow it didn’t matter.
I do wonder what it is like for a musician, one of the more creative occupations, to have to live in the past. There were no new tunes in the set. The few solo hits he played are themselves almost 40 years old. Does Fogarty still write songs? I wonder what the sound like? Would audiences today embrace them?
How would you feel if you knew your best work was behind you? That no matter what you created, it was the older material people were interested in. What does that say to an artist? Does it eat at your soul?
There were a couple of tunes I was hoping for that didn’t happen. Not surprising really – you can only squeeze so many songs into a set, and John Fogarty has a lot of songs. I thought he might start the show with “Travelling Band,” which seems to me to be an appropriate opening number, but that didn’t happen.
I came away from the show feeling good. My arthritic knees told me I had been sitting too long. My brain though felt like it was 1969 all over again. I think that was John Fogarty’s intention.