Fogerty’s revival in full throttle

John Fogerty (pictured in 2007) got the crowd into it with a blast of Creedence Clearwater Revival songs. He is touring behind a new album of country covers. John Fogerty (pictured in 2007) got the crowd into it with a blast of Creedence Clearwater Revival songs. He is touring behind a new album of country covers. (Robert E. Klein/Associated Press/File 2007)
By James Reed
Globe Staff / December 1, 2009

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John Fogerty knows exactly how to puff up a sold-out house. He could do it a number of ways, from the opening guitar riffs of “Bad Moon Rising’’ to the simple utterance of “Left a good job in the city.’’

As its former frontman, he’s got Creedence Clearwater Revival’s indelible catalog at his disposal, but Sunday night at the Orpheum was more than just a nostalgia trip. It was a showcase for a heritage artist who’s still exploring the roots of his own sound.

Fogerty is touring behind the new “The Blue Ridge Rangers Rides Again,’’ a collection of mostly country covers that’s ostensibly a follow-up to his solo debut from 1973, “The Blue Ridge Rangers.’’ The stage curtains, decorated with an image of a fiddle and banjo, held the promise of a rollicking country-rock jam session. It was to a certain degree, but the Orpheum didn’t exactly feel like the Ryman and Fogerty was also aware of what the audience wanted: singalongs, lots and lots of singalongs to what probably felt like the soundtrack of the ’60s.

They got plenty of them - “Lookin’ Out My Back Door,’’ “Green River,’’ “Fortunate Son,’’ “Centerfield’’ (with Fogerty on a baseball bat-shaped guitar) - but sometimes the CCR songs felt like obligatory fare for the band. Likewise, there was a noticeable dip in the audience’s enthusiasm when Fogerty played superb stuff from his recent albums.

Still, it was hard to quibble with a two-hour juggernaut that raged so hard, especially in the final stretch. Fogerty sounded revitalized with a full backing band of young guns, many of whom probably grew up listening to CCR - on the oldies station. Fogerty needs a band like this behind him, and he obviously relished the dueling interplay. On an extended “Big Train From Memphis,’’ fiddle player Dan Hochhalter locked into a stealth give-and-take with Fogerty until Hochhalter playfully upstaged him. But it was still no match for Fogerty’s guitar prowess, which was notably confident and commanding, if occasionally ostentatious.

Even more surprising was how juiced Fogerty sounded on incendiary covers that have been part of his repertoire for four decades. He and the band dirtied up the traditional gospel tune “Working on a Building,’’ burrowed deep into blues-rock on “Midnight Special,’’ and brought a stately elegance to Rick Nelson’s “Garden Party’’ from his new album.

Just like that, though, “Proud Mary’’ came and went, the house lights went on, and the crowd went home knowing it just sang along with a familiar voice that defined its generation.

James Reed can be reached at


At: Orpheum Theatre, Sunday

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