The godfather of swamp rock brought his famous Bayou Sunday sounds to accompany the southern heat and humidity that made Winnipeg a huge sweat puddle.
John Fogerty, a rock ‘n’ roll king even as a solo artist thanks to frontman Creedence Clearwater Revival and his own hits, took the stage at Canada Life Center in front of around 9,000 fans who wanted to hear classics like Up Around the Bend again, which he was with Set directed.
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Canada Life Center
Sunday 17 July
4 stars out of five
His signature swamp rock sound came through on both his songs, “Green River,” which featured an excellent Fogerty solo, and the equally famous “Born on the Bayou.”
He introduced Who’ll Stop The Rain? with a story about his Sunburst Rickenbacker guitar, which he said was part of many of CCR’s hits.
When the band broke up in 1973, he thoughtlessly gave the guitar away to a boy.
44 years later his wife found and bought back his guitar “at an exorbitant price for my guitar”.
It’s a guitar reunion story not dissimilar to another guitar great of the ’60s and ’70s, Randy Bachman. The orange Gretsch from the Guess Who greats, which he bought not far from what is now Canada Life Center in the early 1960s, was stolen in 1976. Earlier this month, Bachman and his guitar were reunited in Tokyo, where a guitarist bought it about a decade ago.
Fogerty has played downtown Winnipeg five times in the past 15 years, but not since 2014. He headlined Dauphin’s Countryfest in 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the event, among many others over the past two years.
Back to Fogerty. The 77-year-old was strong, especially on one of his solo songs, joy of my lifewhich included a soaring saxophone solo.
The song was given new life earlier this year when country great Chris Stapleton recorded it, but his version doesn’t have Fogerty’s slinky slide guitar.
Country and country rock have borrowed liberally from CCR’s template over the years, and while many have made millions from Fogerty’s inspiration, there’s nothing quite like hearing classics like this Look out my back door or Lodi from the master himself.
lucky childhis politically driven song came towards the end of his set, which continued as of press time.
lucky child is also the title of his autobiography, which often looked back bitterly on his CCR years, thanks to many legal battles between him and his record company and his old bandmates, one of which went all the way to the US Supreme Court.
He wrote that the experience took away any incentive to play CCR tunes, but only started playing them again at Bob Dylan’s urging.
It was a wise suggestion. While bands around the world can perform CCR songs, no one sings them quite like Fogerty, nor can guitarists emulate that swampy guitar sound that is Fogerty’s trademark.
During the spring and summer of 2020 pandemic lockdown, Fogerty put together a family band with his sons Tyler and Shane, and daughter Kelsy, and took to social media with their versions of CCR and Fogerty’s hits.
His pride showed in the YouTube videos and the footage became part of a 2021 record, Fogerty’s Factory.
Tyler and Shane, both singers and guitarists like their old man, joined their band Hearty Har to support the older Fogerty during his set.
It was a double duty as Hearty Har opened Sunday’s concert with a rousing mix of psychedelic and garage rock – with all the enthusiasm and guitar playing that her old man would have had in the 1960s but less of the catchy tunes.
The media was denied accreditation for the concert, hence no photos like this free press would normally supplement concert coverage,
Didn’t stop legions of fans on the floor and better seats in the arena’s lower bowl streaming the show directly to their social media contacts, who enjoyed Fogerty’s performance for free.
The concert got going when Fogerty sang Have you ever seen the rainand then two solo favorites midfield and Old man on the streetfrom 1985, which introduced him to a new generation of fans.
On the latter, Fogarty and his family jammed for a long parade of solos that showed Fogerty was an inspiration to them as he was to millions of fans.
Fogerty played two more mega hits, Bad moonrise and Proud Maryduring his encore that had fans across the arena getting out of their seats, pocketing their phones for a few moments and dancing to famous grooves.
Alan Small has been a journalist with the Free Press for more than 22 years in various capacities, most recently as an arts and life reporter.
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