Thursday, June 21, 2018
Youngstown was the center of the Pittsburgh-to-Cleveland concert scene for one night, when John Fogerty and ZZ Top brought their tour to Covelli Centre on Tuesday.
The two legendary acts are on a summer co-headlining tour, with Youngstown as the only regional stop. Memorable moments punctuated the evening, including a stint in which Fogerty – the singer, guitarist and songwriter for Creedence Clearwater Revival – and his ZZ Top counterpart Billy Gibbons played together. The two teamed up on “Holy Grail,” which they co-wrote for the tour, and “Green River.”
There were other pieces of history on stage. Fogerty wielded a guitar that he played at Woodstock that, he explained, went missing in 1972. His wife tracked it down, bought it back, and presented it to Fogerty as a Christmas gift a couple of years ago.
Fogerty, at age 73, was nothing short of amazing, spitting out one classic hit after another in rapid succession, true to the recording and full of the original flair.
His band included his son, Shane, on rhythm guitar, and also a three-piece horn section, clad in plaid flannel shirts. On “Rock and Roll Girls,” the sax player wailed like Clarence Clemons.
Fogerty’s trademark “shout-singing” vocal style was very much intact, as witnessed on “Down on the Corner” and many other songs.
He strapped on an acoustic for some power strumming on “Have You Ever Seen the Rain” and also played a powerful “Love and War,” a song he co-wrote with Brad Paisley that stands up for U.S. veterans.
For a California kid, Fogerty has always been musically mired in the backwaters of Louisiana, and his excellent band had no trouble recreating that sound at Covelli.
“Heard It Through the Grapevine” throbbed and swayed, while “Born on the Bayou” shimmered like rippling blackwater on a moonlit night. The big screen showed what looked like a velvet blacklight painting of a bayou scene with lazy fireflies flickering about.
Things got downright Mardi Gras with a cover of zydeco classic “Toot-Toot” with some washboard, squeezebox and horns, and then a sizzling cover of “New Orleans.” The arena became Bourbon Street at this point, with the horns and a crewe leader in a spangled get-up parading through the confetti-covered crowd.
Fogerty wound down with “Old Man Down the Road,” in which he traded guitar riffs with his son. On the intro to latter-day hit “Centerfield,” amazing drummer Kenny Aronoff whacked on something to make that baseball-park handclap sound, while Fogerty played a guitar shaped like a Louisville Slugger.
The evening ended with an encore of “Bad Moon Rising” and “Proud Mary.”
ZZ Top – those OGs of the pre-hipster beard era – went on first and delivered a 75-minute set that touched on the storied band’s long career, including “Waitin’ for the Bus/Jesus Just Left Chicago” from the landmark “Tres Hombres” album.
While beardless drummer Frank Beard labored with his head down the whole set, Gibbons and bassist Dusty Hill once again proved that no band gets more out of a minimal bit of choreography than ZZ Top.
The two brought out the furry guitars for “Legs” before an encore of “La Grange” and “Tush.”
Guy D’Astolfo covers entertainment for The Vindicator. Follow him on Twitter at @VindyVibe.