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REVIEW: John Fogerty Rocks the 4th of July (Mystic Lake)

John Fogerty (photo by Myriam Santos) performed at the Mystic Lake Casino & Hotel on July 4, 2021.

Music fans of a certain age know John Fogerty’s story starts as the lead singer of Creedence Clearwater Revival. For two years, at the end of the 1960s, CCR dominated the American scene.  Then came the breakup of the band, the feuding with former bandmates and the record label, the long periods without recording or performing, then performing but refusing to play CCR songs. Later, Fogerty returned to regular recording and performing, and eventually started to include CCR songs – and had a number of hits as a solo artist in the 1980s and 1990s. 

Fogerty last came to Minnesota three years ago, appearing with ZZ Top over at Treasure Island. He came back for Independence Day 2021, playing Mystic Lake’s outdoor amphitheater in a thrilling solo show.

A promotional photo of John Fogerty with his electric guitar. Photo by Lee Cherry.

Fogerty may be 76, but his voice is still very good. His great joy in playing his music for his fans, too, comes through very clearly.  Of course, as he mentioned more than once, this tour is particularly special: the return to live music after a year-and-a-half spent staying at home, enjoying music only remotely or by shared videos. 

During that hiatus, Fogerty found ways to keep busy, including an album (Fogerty’s Factory) with his children as his band (that’s Tyler, Shane, and Kelsy Fogerty), playing old hits and other favorites, and dropping a new song on his own, “Weeping in the Promised Land”.  That song was a commentary on the mismanaged pandemic and police killings of African Americans.  Before playing that song last night, Fogerty mentioned George Floyd and the need for “honest dialogue about social equality”. “We can do better”, he said.

Mostly, though, the concert was a spirited run through CCR’s greatest hits and Fogerty’s solo work:  starting with “Travelin’ Band” and going through “Proud Mary” as the last encore song. 

There were many highlights familiar to those who have seen past Fogerty performances. For “Have You Ever Seen the Rain,” Fogerty played the same guitar he used in 1969 – no small feat, given that he gave away after CCR broke up, only for his wife to track it down and re-purchased it 44 years later. For “Centerfield,” he played a guitar shaped like a Louisville Slugger bat, crafted by Philip Kubicki. 

Fogerty was well supported by his band, especially the amazing Kenny Aronoff – still offering a reliable and distinctive beat at 68 – and his son Tyler on guitar.  Shane and Kelsy Fogerty were also on stage, and the four family members played guitar together, without backup, for two songs from the Fogerty Factory album: “Lean on Me” and “City of New Orleans”.

A promotional photo collage of John Fogerty in concert.

Near the end of the concert, Fogerty played the CCR hit “Fortunate Son.”  The song criticizes the hypocrisy of powerful people imposing taxes and military duties on others, while they themselves avoid them (the singer “ain’t no” millionaire’s son or senator’s son – “ain’t no fortunate one”).  However, Fogerty seems now to have adopted the label, “Fortunate Son,” without irony – it appears on the Aronoff’s drum kit. 

Fogerty clearly exuded real gratitude to still be playing his music 50+ years after he started, to be playing with his family, and to be playing to his fans – once again in person.

Brian Bix