Stu Cook and Doug Clifford have been playing in a band together for the better part of 50 years.
They started as the Golliwogs, a band that would go on to become Creedence Clearwater Revival. Along with brothers John and Tom Forgery, they all would earn a spot at Woodstock and later the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
“We were there at the beginning. We’d be done by now, but they keep moving the goal posts on us every night,” Cook said Thursday night from the stage at The Big Fresno Fair, while playing with the pair’s current band, Creedence Clearwater Revisited.
This was a show of greatest hits.
The 75-minute set was pretty much a rundown of CCR’s classic “Chronicle” album.
As a fan, it’s utterly satisfying (and fairly rare, truthfully) to be at a concert where you know every song down to the guitar solos and can sing along to every word, and not just on the choruses.
The band doesn’t pretend to be the original CCR, but it does work to hold to the band’s original sound.
Singer Dan McGuinness manages to convincingly capture John Fogerty’s vocal inflections. On songs like “Midnight Special” and “Fortune Son,” McGuiness fairly nails Fogerty’s sometimes twang and verse-ending screams.
From the stage, he also bears a more-than-passing resemblance to the singer.
Guitarist Kurt Griffey likewise recreates Tom Fogerty’s nuanced, countrified picking leads on songs like “Bad Moon Rising” and “Cotton Fields.” It’s note-for-note, or close enough to fool anyone but a professional.
If anything, the band suffers from being too good, a bit too polished for the material. The added keyboards on “I Put a Spell on You,” distract from the bluesy grit that made the original so powerful. Several songs — “Born on the Bayou,” for one — seem to drag along, without he energetic pop that marked the originals.
This is a reviewer’s nitpicking, of course. The crowd didn’t seem to notice or care and mostly, the Revisited Creedence did the songs justice and then some.
This was especially true of the band’s “country and or western” tunes, as Cook called them.
“Looking out My Back Door” was a standout.
Heard it Through the Grapevine
CCR was known for its extended cuts. The original recorded version of “I Heard it through the Grapevine” clocked in at 11 minutes. Certainly the revisited band is technically sound enough to pull off that kind of long-form jamming.
And it did.
But given CCR’s catalog of hits, one wonders if rather than hearing Cook do wah-pedal versions of classic rock riffs on his bass, the fans would rather have had an add another song added to the set.
“Run Through the Jungle,” Traveling Band,” and “Suzie Q” all come to mind..
Ray Appleton’s classic-rock cover band opened the night with half-hour set of good old-fashioned rock and roll. Think late ’60s guitar-God radio rock, but just the deep cuts.
Appleton seems to know his audience and started the show with a sly poke at their (and his own) age.
“We’ve come for your Geritol,” he said.