In just two hours and ten minutes John Fogerty warped a packed Rod Laver Arena back to an era where music was peace, love and unrestrained copulation. It was a celebration of Americana, an occasion drenched in nostalgia and “remember when” sentimentality. Most of all, it was about the songs. At 66 Fogerty proved he still has the goods, running through Cosmo’s Factory in its entirety as well as an avalanche of Creedence Clearwater Revival hits and covers.
As an album, Cosmo’s Factory signified the peak of CCR’s crescendo. It substantiated their importance alongside the likes of The Band and Crosby, Stills & Nash. At the same time the LP brought about their demise, resulting in irrevocable damage that gave way to lawsuits and eventually Fogerty’s exile from the band.
Regardless of the aftermath, all of the songs hold up forty years on. ‘Travelin’ Band’ and ‘Lookin’ Out My Back Door’ are a staple of AOR rock, a slice of southern American culture. Then there’s arguably three of the finest tracks to ever close an album; ‘Who’ll Stop The Rain’, Marvin Gaye’s ‘I Heard It Through The Grapevine’ and ‘Long As I Can See The Light’.
Fogerty treats them with the respect and delivery the audience expects. His voice, though less forceful than it once was, carries the songs and conveys each of their haunting narratives with purpose. He is also in top form on lead and has lost none of his nous on the harmonica.
Adding to the sense of nostalgia is the screens behind the band that flash imagery of Woodstock and Vietnam. Fogerty also supplies some background on each track before it is played, providing a vast contrast to the same artist who refused to perform any of CCR’s catalogue in the late eighties.
Following the conclusion of Cosmo’s Factory, Fogerty expands the setlist to include nearly every CCR and solo hit with the only notable exception being ‘Bad Moon Rising’. These are songs that need no further elaboration; ‘Down On The Corner’, ‘Have You Ever Seen The Rain?’, ‘Hey, Tonight’ and ‘The Old Man Down The Road’. He also throws in some crowd-pleasing covers, such as Roy Orbison’s ‘Pretty Woman’ and Robert Palmer’s ‘Bad Case Of Loving You’.
If anyone required further convincing of CCR’s relevance they need look no further than ‘Fortunate Son’. “It ain’t me / it ain’t me / I ain’t no Senator’s son / it ain’t me / it ain’t me / I ain’t no fortunate one’ spits with as much venom as it did in the summer of 1969. ‘Proud Mary’ follows soon after, prompting a deserved standing ovation for the 66-year-old.
Given that so much has been written about Fogerty, it is nigh-on impossible to shed any further light on his body of work. All we can continue to do is promote that he is one of America’s greatest living songwriters. Last night provided a powerful reminder of that fact.
- Paul Bonadio