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John Fogerty comes ready to play

Reprinted from late editions of yesterday's Globe.

You knew the moment would come. Near the end of his sold-out show, John Fogerty jumped out with a customized guitar in the shape of a Louisville Slugger for his baseball anthem, ''Centerfield." The song is regularly played at nearly every ballpark in the country these days, but this being the Year of the Red Sox, the crowd went extra wild. Some fans waved Sox shirts and jackets, and Fogerty put on a Sox cap.

After the tune, it was speech time -- and Fogerty complied. ''The glow is worth it," he said of Red Sox joy. ''And it's the first time I can remember that the Yankees got to shut up!"

Fogerty, the consensus Rock and Roll Hall of Famer who first made his mark with Creedence Clearwater Revival, was in an upbeat mood -- and one has to credit the intimacy of the Orpheum for that. He was in much better spirits and form than at his late-'90s shows at the larger Tweeter Center and FleetBoston Pavilion.

Fronting a five-piece, guitar-heavy unit, Fogerty set the tone with turbo-charged opener ''Travelin' Band," a Creedence classic that Bruce Springsteen often covers in concert. The strutting Fogerty even indulged in a bit of braggadocio at the completion of it: ''Man, if that's the way to start, watch out!"

He was indeed being prophetic. He quickly whipped into CCR nuggets ''Who'll Stop the Rain" and ''Green River," before hitting his Ramones-like solo tune ''She's Got Baggage." The night was launched -- and while the overall feeling was that the tracks from his solo CDs weren't up to the tight genius of his CCR output, Fogerty mixed them in a way that the momentum kept building until this became easily one of the best shows of the year.

He kicked hard like the reborn 59-year-old rocker that he is but also had some astonishingly tender moments. His new ''Deja Vu (All Over Again)" not only suggested parallels between the Vietnam War and the Iraq conflict, but the accompanying video produced some teary eyes in the house. It showed '60s antiwar demonstrators and Vietnamese refugees -- and climaxed with Fogerty holding his 3-year-old daughter tightly in his arms in his garden in California. (He made no reference, though, to the Vote for Change tour he just completed with Springsteen and other artists.)

Fogerty displayed all the precise craft for which he's known, from the swamp-rock of ''Born on the Bayou" and ''The Old Man Down the Road" to his country influence on the twangy, Johnny Cash-evoking ''Blue Moon Nights" and acoustic ''Sugar-Sugar (In My Life)." Fogerty has been taking guitar lessons in Nashville -- and it came across.

His band also rose up with him, especially drummer John Molo (an original member of Bruce Hornsby's band) and guitarist Bob Britt (who has played with the Dixie Chicks). Fogerty put them through their paces by ripping through ''I Heard It Through the Grapevine" and ''Tombstone Shadow" before blowing everyone away with ''Fortunate Son" and encores of ''Bad Moon Rising" and ''Proud Mary." If you weren't there, you really missed a gem.

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