On Friday, July 14, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and icon John Fogerty played RiverEdge Park in Aurora, IL near Chicago.

Rock legend John Fogerty performed for Chicagoland at the John C. Dunham Pavilion at RiverEdge Park in Aurora, IL on Friday, July 14, 2017.

Under an overcast sky with rain apparently looming, the show’s announcer updated the weather forecast for the thousands of outdoor concert goers on the park lawn just moments before Fogerty took the stage.

“Great weather for the rest of the night!”

And so the cheers and the show began as fans, myself included, situated ourselves with our bag chairs and our blankets in place.

Fogerty appeared minutes later and launched immediately into “Travelin’ Band,” one of the many near-miss chart-toppers he had with his band Creedence Clearwater Revival.  No frills, no long intros, just the band and its leader jamming in the dusk-lit park.  As the band began playing, many in the front part of the crowd rose to its feet in appreciation for the 72-year-old Fogerty who, at times, rocked his guitar and moved about the stage like a man one-third his age.

“Travelin’ Band” was the first of a 25-song jam session in which Fogerty told stories, played his lead guitar and sang in that old familiar twangy, high-pitched voice that’s made his songs classic-rock staples for nearly half a century.  He pranced around the stage as he morphed from “Travelin’ Band” to “Green River,” another CCR hit that gave the band a close-but-no-cigar chart ride in the late 1960s/ early ’70s as they watched five of their singles climb all the way to No. 2 only to stall there, denying them that elusive No. 1 experience on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart.

Next from Fogerty was “Born On The Bayou,” a rocker from CCR’s Bayou Country – one of three albums the band released in 1969 alone (seriously, who does that!?).  Of course, neither Fogerty nor his former CCR band mates hailed from the New Orleans bayou or any of its surrounding areas about which they sang so often, but their brand of roots and country rock was authentic enough to endear the California-based band and/or its former leader to millions of record buyers and concert attendees for the past nearly 50 years, ever since they made their chart début with 1968’s “Suzie Q.”

That song was next, followed by “Who’ll Stop The Rain” and a long funny lead-in story from Fogerty about his 1969 Woodstock experience. Interestingly enough, the then-up-and-coming CCR had been the first band to sign a contract committing them to perform at the famed music festival – and many other acts soon followed – 32 in all.  But CCR had the misfortune of following – according to Fogerty – an LSD-influenced Grateful Dead on stage (many hours after CCR’s contracted 9:00pm prime-time slot and much to the dismay of Fogerty and his band mates).  The bad experience inspired Fogerty to write “Who’ll Stop The Rain,” which became the B-side of the double-sided No. 2 hit single with “Travelin’ Band” in 1970.

More classics followed on this cool July night, including “Lookin’ Out My Back Door” (another No. 2 CCR smash from 1970), which featured an accordion solo intro by one of Fogerty’s band members, and “Ramble Tamble,” the first track on CCR’s first Number One album, Cosmo’s Factory.  That latter track included the tempo changes that made up the original, and it sounded even better live!

John Fogerty takes the stage at RiverEdge Park on July 14 near Chicago.

Fogerty’s famous anti-Vietnam war protest gems were included, including “Fortunate Son” and “Run Through The Jungle,” both CCR tunes from their fourth and fifth albums, Willy and the Poor Boys and Cosmo’s Factory, respectively. Fogerty also played a duet he recorded with country singer Brad Paisley, whose vocal was included by way of the song’s original video clip.  The tune, called “Love and War,” was a nod to veterans of all foreign wars and was released just this past April as the title track on Paisley’s latest album.

But the rock legend didn’t languish in serious topics too long.  He gave us several tunes inspired by happier moments – like the 26-year marriage to his wife and the song she inspired, “Joy of My Life,” which he wrote in 1997.  He kept it in the family when he introduced his son (and fellow guitarist) Shane Fogerty, who got a nice solo on CCR’s “Lodi.”

The elder Fogerty kept the fun rolling with CCR’s cover version of Little Richard’s “Good Golly Miss Molly” and the song “Keep On Chooglin’,” another CCR classic in which Fogerty (who coined the phrase “choogle” in 1969 as a word for just having fun) played a down-home harmonica part, which drummer Kenny Arena followed with a nice drum solo that made “Chooglin'” perhaps the best jam session of the night.

More crowd-pleaders included his remakes of the traditional folk song “The Midnight Special” and Motown’s “I Heard It Through The Grapevine,” the latter of which CCR made into an 11-minute version of the tune first made famous by Gladys Knight & the Pips and, most famously, Marvin Gaye in the two years before CCR covered it in 1969.  Thankfully, Fogerty spared us about three or four minutes of the lengthy CCR version, leaving room for more songs to follow.

The night ended with a mixture of CCR’s best and Fogerty’s own solo hits, including “Centerfield,” the title track from his solo 1984 No. 1 album, which received the biggest positive reaction from the crowd – much to my surprise.

My two CCR favorites, “Have You Ever Seen The Rain” and “Down On The Corner” also got the crowd involved, the first in a singalong; the latter in several impromptu dance-offs throughout the grassy venue.

But Fogerty saved perhaps the two most recognizable CCR hits for last during the encore.  They would be “Bad Moon Rising” and “Proud Mary.”  Both are huge classic tunes that gave CCR its best chances of having No. 1 singles during their heyday.  They were the first CCR songs to peak at – you guessed it – No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1969.

But Fogerty was no Number Two on this night.  He gave us twenty-five reasons why he is still considered one of the best rock and roll songwriters and performers of his and later generations.

And with a catalogue like his in tow, there’s no reason to think that Fogerty – a member of both the Rock and Roll and Songwriters Halls of Fame – won’t “keep on chooglin'” for years to come.


Aurora, IL RiverEdge Setlist (all tunes CCR songs unless otherwise indicated):
1. “Travelin’ Band”
2. “Green River”
3. “Born on the Bayou”
4. “Suzie Q”
5. “Who’ll Stop The Rain”
6. “Lookin’ Out My Back Door”
7. “Hot Rod Heart” (John Fogerty solo tune)
8. “Ramble Tamble”
9. “The Midnight Special”
10. “Run Through The Jungle”
11. “Love and War” (Brad Paisley ft. Fogerty)
12. “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” (CCR remake of Motown classic)
13. “Joy Of My Life” (Fogerty solo from the 1997 album Blue Moon Swamp)
14. “Hey Tonight”
15. “Lodi”
16. “Good Golly Miss Molly” (Little Richard song covered on CCR’s Bayou Country album)
17. “New Orleans”
18. “Keep On Chooglin'”
19. “Have You Ever Seen The Rain”
20. “Down On The Corner”
21. “Centerfield” (JF solo)
22. “The Old Man Down The Road” (JF solo)
23. “Fortunate Son”
24. “Bad Moon Rising” (encore)
25. “Proud Mary” (encore)

By DJ Rob

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