The appeal of John Fogerty's concert Sunday night at Mystic Lake Casino Amphitheater in Prior Lake was (take your pick):
A) To see an ageless Rock & Roll Hall of Famer live.
B) To watch the post-concert July 4th fireworks.
C) To experience the first big-name rock concert during the pandemic.
D) All of the above.
C'mon, you know the answer.
To witness the jubilant burst of the opening tune, "Travelin' Band," the explosive "Hey Tonight" and the corrosive "Fortunate Son" were reminders of the urgency and exhilaration of rock 'n' roll. To feel the boom of Kenny Aronoff's kick drum reverberating in your stomach was a reminder of the thrilling jolt of live music. To peel off solos on air guitar as you sang along, sweat dripping down your face, was a reminder that you never lose the love for the songs you grew up on.
Damn, we miss live rock 'n' roll on giant speakers, with a screaming singer, a kick-butt drummer and guitars cranked to 10 and sometimes 11.
And it was obvious that Fogerty missed it, too. He seemed unstoppably ecstatic to be back on stage with a live audience and a high-octane band. Fogerty's singing was so relentlessly exuberant that his tenor voice seemed to rise higher as he sang. At 76 but looking half his age, the high-energy rock star paraded around the stage like it was holy ground, singing hymns to anyone who ever attended the Church of Classic Rock.
Fogerty's 90-minute concert was packed with hits from Creedence Clearwater Revival, his late '60s/early '70s band that landed him in the Rock Hall of Fame. He also delivered two favorites from his post-CCR solo career, the yearning 1985 smash "Centerfield" and the dark and swampy "The Old Man Down the Road."
To change the tone, tempo and texture of the show, Fogerty did a sit-down, two-tune acoustic set accompanied by just his three children, Shane, Tyler and Kelsy. He covered "Lean on Me" and "City of New Orleans," proving he can turn it down and serenade with the folkie earnestness of a John Denver.
Fogerty clearly relished rocking with his three adult children, with whom he has played stripped-down performances during the pandemic on the internet. Guitarist Shane Fogerty is the only one who has toured previously with him. On Sunday, Dad got so excited about Shane's guitar work on "The Old Man Down the Road" that he let the youngster extend his lone featured solo of the night over and over again.
In true Creedence tradition, though, many of the songs were short and snappy, clocking in at about 3 minutes, usually including a brief Fogerty guitar passage. Yet, "Fortunate Son," a heady mix of angst, fear and vitriol, couldn't have been more galvanizing at 2 minutes and 20 seconds, especially on Independence Day.
Also having special resonance on the holiday was Fogerty's first new original in eight years, "Weeping in the Promised Land," which he introduced by saying it was inspired by the murder of George Floyd "right here in Minneapolis. If any good comes out of it, it forces us to have social dialogue about equality. C'mon, we can do better."
The crowd cheered and then Fogerty, with his rudimentary piano skills and a recorded gospel choir joining on the chorus, offered arguably his most powerful lyric in a long career of social commentary songs. "All the people are crying your last words, 'I can't breathe,' " he sang. "And a white judge say, 'There been no crime here today.' "
Then, after a pregnant pause, he crooned the final chorus as the crowd of maybe 5,000 listened as reverently as you'll probably ever see at a big-time rock concert.
The rest of the night was the spirited Fogerty in the spirit of the occasion. After shouting "Happy birthday, America," the veteran California rocker, dressed in a Western shirt festooned with sparkly red and blue stars, encored with some fireworks of his own, namely "Bad Moon Rising" and "Proud Mary," before Mystic Lake Casino's pyrotechnics filled the July 4th skies.
Twitter: @JonBream • 612-673-1719