Photo by Jacob Zinn
If there was an empty seat in the Abbotsford Entertainment & Sports Centre before John Fogerty started his staggering 29-song set Friday night, it wasn’t empty for long. The swamp rocker sold out the 8,000-seat arena for what was an unforgettable night of “Peace, Love and Creedence.”
Lukas Nelson – the son of Willie Nelson – and his band Promise of the Real gave a country-rock opening filled with high jumps and odes to Jimi Hendrix, particularly when Nelson picked the strings with his teeth. The band’s set included an electric rendition of “Amazing Grace” and an almost Latin-infused cover of The Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil”.
Then, like a 737 comin’ outta the sky, Fogerty roared onstage with “Travelin’ Band” and kept the Creedence Clearwater Revival hits comin’ with “Lookin’ Out My Back Door”, “Who’ll Stop the Rain” and “Run Through the Jungle”. The tour promotes his upcoming album, Wrote a Song for Everyone, a collaborative effort with such guests as Bob Seger, the Foo Fighters and Kid Rock lending their talents to re-recordings of CCR classics.
Fogerty gave the fans exactly what they wanted to hear: Cajun-flavoured southern rock. He threw in a few solo hits like “Centerfield”, “Hot Rod Heart” and “The Old Man Down the Road”, but didn’t shy away from filling the set mostly with Revival tunes. 45 minutes in, he performed “Up Around the Bend” – and he hadn’t yet broken a sweat. Other notables like “Born on the Bayou”, “Lodi”, and “Down on the Corner”, all of which kept the crowd standing long before the guaranteed ovation he would get at the night’s end.
The 67-year-old went non-stop for a solid two hours – even the break between the main set and the encore wasn’t more than two minutes. And his voice, unlike other rockstars his age, is in tremendous shape. His live show sounded better than the original studio recordings.
When 10:30 rolled around and he still wasn’t on the encore, fans were surely delighted and praying it would never end. Not one person in the arena wasn’t singing the lyrics to “Fortunate Son” after Fogerty strummed the signature intro. He and his bandmates left the stage only for a moment, returning with “Hey Tonight” and “Bad Moon Rising”, and rounding out the set with “Rollin’ on the River”.
While a Creedence Clearwater Revival reunion would be amazing, Fogerty himself stands on his own. His lengthy setlists, going 29 songs straight, puts him in Bruce Springsteen territory in terms of onstage endurance and bang for your buck. This was, quite possibly, the greatest show to come through Abbotsford. If you missed it, I suggest getting on the next ferry to Vancouver Island for his show tonight in Victoria – even if you show halfway through, you’ll still get more than your money’s worth.