Creedence Clearwater Revival August 31, 2007
By Glen Creason
One of the sweet annual treats at the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts is a visit from Creedence Clearwater Revisited. From four decades back in the foggy rear view mirror comes nostalgic greatness that guarantees as lively a concert as you will ever hear in the great hall. In their fourth visit to Cerritos CCR continues to steam straight ahead, laying out one hundred minutes of pure musical endorphins that wash over those crusty synapses from back in the salad days of boomers filling the audience. There are few repertoires that can match the Creedence treasure chest and the shows are plain and simple rocked out mini-festivals of time-tested jewels. These concerts are not showy, pretty, fancy or filled with bells and whistles. The band is dressed simply in t-shirts and jeans on a bare stage but the sound comes in pounding waves of rhythm while twisting and turning the classic songs into a fresh forays into the rock form, allowing the superbly skilled guitarist Tal Morris to strut his face-melting solos amidst the aged in oak platform of bass and drums from Creedence Clearwater Revival originals Cosmo Clifford and Stu Cook. This ingrained ability to move an audience in their seats seems to be in the DNA of these guys who look great for gents even older than me. If I had arms like Cosmo Clifford, I would wear tank tops too.
Blasting off like it was 1969 again Creedence roared through “Born on the Bayou,” Green River,” “Lodi,” “Commotion,” “Who’ll Stop the Rain,” “Suzy-Q,” and “Hey Tonight” without seeming to take of gulp of air along the way. Lead singer John “Bulldog” Tristao is essential to re-creating the Creedence sound and spicing up the proceedings with some beefy stage presence. His gravelly but potent voice can reach all of the notes and allows the songs to be appreciated in a pure rock form. Another veteran, keyboardist Steve Gunner keeps the sound tight and on point, making each song album sounding perfect. If there is any beef that the irascible John Fogerty in not part of the band, that is forgotten quickly when the music starts and Tristao lets loose his growl. The band does Fogerty’s songs honor and most certainly gives the fans their money’s worth. As the show progressed, audience muscle-memories loosened and the years melted away in this glow of rock and roll. In front of me, a father with knowledge of the Summer of Love sat next to his stoic, unmoving son gyrating like a guy who could assume a cross-legged yoga pose, just like he did back in the day. Yet, this was a performance that reached out to those unborn when Creedence first put vinyl in stores and “youngsters” in their 30’s and 40’s got up and shook a tail feather to more fine wine from the hot wax days including “I Heard It Through the Grapevine,” “Midnight Special,” “Bad Moon Rising,” an extended, rollicking “Proud Mary,” and “Fortunate Son.” A four bagger of encores including “Have You Ever Seen the Rain,” “Travelin’ Band,” “Run Through the Jungle” and “Up Around the Bend” sent the exhausted and delighted crowd back home to their copies of “Cosmo’s Factory” with the knowledge that some things do get better with age.