John Fogerty had a triple-header of a celebratory concert Tuesday at the El Rey Theater. The event, broadcast live on AXS TV, commemorated his 68th birthday, the 45th anniversary of the first Credence Clearwater Revival album and the first day of release of his new album "Wrote a Song for Everyone."
Rather than limit the music-making to the latest release, Fogerty turned the night into a full-length overview of his lifetime, starting with a video documentary of his pre-CCR life in the East Bay of Northern California and the Army; segueing into a two-hour concert that included jams with his sons; and the premiere of a music video for his new song "Mystic Highway."
The new album, which Fogerty said was inspired by an idea his wife Julie proposed, finds Fogerty collaborating with 13 established rock, country and R&B artists, ranging from Bob Seger to Jennifer Hudson to Brad Paisley, on songs mostly from his CCR catalog. Vanguard Records, which did elaborate Q&A/listening sessions in New York and L.A. with Fogerty, released the album. A tour in support of the release is being eyed for the fall.
There were no guests Tuesday at the El Rey save for his sons Shane and Tyler joining on guitar and his wife and daughter, Kelsey, singing "Happy Birthday to You" midway through the 23-song set. He said he thought Dave Grohl would be joining for the show opener "Fortunate Son," "but he's with his wife -- it's her birthday, too."
Instead of presenting the songs as molded on the album -- Seger transforms "Who'll Stop the Rain," Dawes pushes "Someday Never Comes" into uncharted territory to cite two examples -- Fogerty opted for hard-edged renditions of his material, many of them speeded up by the virile drumming of Kenny Aronoff. The sound mix made Fogerty's assortment of Gibsons and Fenders sound more concrete and steel than the marshy swamp sound for which he is known.
His still-effective voice continues to echo the rural South -- no change there -- but he took opportunities at the El Rey show to demonstrate guitar skills that he often keeps in check at larger shows. "Ramble Tamble," a two-chord burner from "Cosmos's Factory," was reimagined with shifts in tempo and a lengthy, lyrical Fogerty solo; "I Heard it Through the Grapevine" was tightened up on Fogerty's end and expanded via Bob Malone's keyboards; and "Lodi" was a platform for Fogerty to engage in a guitar duel with son Shane while Tyler kept up the pace on rhythm.
"Looking Out My Back Door"
"Who'll Stop the Rain"
"Born on the Bayou"
"Somebody Help Me"
"Blue Moon Nights"
"Train of Fools"
"Hot Rod Heart"
"Joy of My Life"
"Almost Saturday Night"
"I Heard it Through the Grapevine"
"Keep on Chooglin'"
"Have You Ever Seen Rain"
"Oh, Pretty Woman"
"Old Man Down the Road"
"Bad Mon Rising"