Concert Review: British Creedence tribute band graying but still rocking

Aging baby boomer nostalgia for the music of its youth and the disappearance of the groups that created it left a vacuum filled by the phenomenon of “tribute acts.”

June 3, 2019 20:45
3 minute read.
Concert Review: British Creedence tribute band graying but still rocking

Creedence Clearwater Revival. (photo credit: Courtesy)

Charles Bronfman Auditorium, 
Tel Aviv 
June 2

Creedence Clearwater Revival shone as bright as a nova on the American rock scene beginning in 1968. The four-man band seasoned Southern, soul, blues, Cajun, folk, country, and psychedelic sounds with a swampy “choogling” beat that brewed a gumbo of infectious music. Leader John Fogerty’s simple and direct lyrics about Woodstock, Vietnam and youthful rebellion captured the era’s mood. The combination resulted in a string of hit songs and albums, including “Proud Mary,” “Who’ll Stop the Rain” and “Fortunate Son.”
But as with a nova that quickly burns out, the band disintegrated in rancor, lawsuits and weariness after a four-year trip in the stratosphere. CCR’s music became ingrained in American consciousness through continued airplay and use in movies and popular culture, but the musicians disappeared. Fogerty didn’t release an album of his own for more than a decade. His older brother Tom, the band’s second guitarist, died in 1990. The rhythm section tussled with John Fogerty over performance and copyright issues.
In their absence, a new generation took CCR’s three-chord magic and created “roots rock,” a genre that wouldn’t have existed without Creedence’s creativity. Fogerty eventually resurfaced as a solo artist who eventually came to terms with his legacy. His current tour, billed as “My Fifty Years,” blends his Creedence music with the 50s and 60s era hits that inspired him.
Aging baby boomer nostalgia for the music of its youth and the disappearance of the groups that created it left a vacuum filled by the phenomenon of “tribute acts,” groups that go beyond being “cover acts” that play a variety of other bands’ music. Tribute acts recreate the music and magic of a specific band through note-for-note reproductions, as well as adopting their look and feel, to create a simulacrum of the original.
Which brings us to Clearwater Creedence Revival (note the first two words are reversed from the original), a British foursome that rocked a nearly full Charles Bronfman Auditorium in Tel Aviv Sunday night. CC Revival didn’t show us videos or slides of Woodstock crowds and hippie vans. The light show didn’t swirl in psychedelic designs developed at the fabled Fillmore Auditoriums. The guitarists didn’t brandish the candy apple red Rickenbacker that Fogerty used at Woodstock, unlike Beatles tribute bands, which almost always use copies of Paul McCartney’s signature Hofner “Violin” bass.
CC Revival offered us a vision of what Fogerty’s band would look and sound like today – graying, paunchy and unadorned, rather than go for exact reproduction of their scruffy, youthful, 1970 heyday.
Lead singer Peter Barton, barefoot, bearded, and wearing a fringed leather jacket, didn’t recreate Fogerty’s swampy tenor drawl. Instead, he belted out the iconic tunes in a gravely growl that showcased their durability after being sung countless times by Fogerty and scores of pretenders in the last 50 years.
Lead guitarist Graham Pollock, like the others a veteran of numerous British rock groups large and small, didn’t recreate Fogerty’s snarling solos as much as he nodded to them. He retained the emblematic elements and, rather than ending there, he took them in original directions.
Bassist Alan Sagar and drummer Geoff Hammond offered pumped-up versions of Creedence’s shuffling beat.
The 90-minute set included virtually every CCR hit. The band evoked the Vietnam era’s mystery and danger with “Fortunate Son,” “Run Through the Jungle” and “Born on the Bayou.” CCR’s twin “rain” songs, “Have You Ever Seen the Rain” and “Who’ll Stop the Rain,” evoked Woodstock and drew call-and-response singing from the delighted crowd. “Bad Moon Rising,” “Lodi,” “Long as I See the Light” and “Cotton Fields” showed off CCR’s playful and reflective sides. 
Two of CCR’s notable cover versions, “I Put a Spell on You” and “Suzie Q,” suffered from excising Fogerty’s psychedelic solos. “I Heard it Through the Grapevine” devolved into showcase bass and drum solos that thrilled the crowd, if not this reviewer. “Travelin’ Band” and “Proud Mary” provided rousing encores (“Mary” also opened the show) that drew the audience to its feet and to a 60s-era cluster by the stage.
The crowd’s thrilled response,which included a postshow cluster around the band for selfies and autographs in the lobby, gave evidence that CCR’s music was honored in the right way.

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