Fortunate Son Revisited 

Former CCR frontman revives spirit of protest without stooping to nostalgia

Former CCR frontman revives spirit of protest without stooping to nostalgia

John Fogerty stepped onto the Ryman stage last Monday and ripped into "Travelin' Band," one of the greatest rock vocals not delivered by Little Richard. More than three decades after he first sang it, Fogerty could still nail the song. Watching him, you had to wish that, nearing 60, you'll be in as good a shape as he is. The master of the under-three-minute Americana rock saga would get in more than 30 songs over the next two hours, most of them unwithered Creedence hits, plus a few from his new CD Deja Vu All Over Again.

This was an energetic, enthusiastic yet fully adult ride into Fogerty's riffs, hooks, lines and Southern metaphors. The show chugged along song to song with little banter, the crack band matching Fogerty's rarely reached roots-rock level, with help on Dobro from surprise opener Jerry Douglas. The show raised a lot of questions about time, repetition, nostalgia and, ever so gingerly, tragedy—it was meant to. It did not take nostalgia for "Born on the Bayou" and "Centerfield" and "Bad Moon Rising" to bring the crowd to a uniform stand, boogieing, clapping and singing along. The old material is that sturdy, the excitement it created of this moment.

There was maybe less appreciation for Fogerty's new songs, which often seemed to rehash, sonically, his older ones—or for the wonderfully simple Jackie Wilson-style "Sugar-Sugar," which surely would have been a hit in '67, but is genre preservation now. The audience's response was noticeably guarded to the pointed title track of Deja Vu, which was accompanied by video images that paired the relentless death toll in Vietnam with that of the war in Iraq. The same crowd punched their fists to "Fortunate Son," with its safely aged and agreed-to grievances.

Then again, maybe "Fortunate Son" was just a stronger song; maybe nostalgia counted, after all. For many, the new didn't seem to have the explosive power of the timeless renewed.

—Barry Mazor

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