Creedence Clearwater Revisited Live in Oklahoma

Creedence Clearwater Revisited
First Council Casino
Newkirk, Oklahoma
March 7, 2013

By Jeb Wright

Set List:
Born on the Bayou | Green River | Lodi | Locomotion | Who’ll Stop the Rain | Susie Q | Hey Tonight | Long as I Can See the Light | I Put a Spell on You | Down on the Corner | Lookin’ Out My Back Door | Heard It Through the Grapevine | The Midnight Special | Bad Moon Risin | Proud Mary | Fortunate Son

Have You Ever Seen the Rain | Travelin’ Band | Up Around the Bend defines ‘timeless’ as “referring or restricted to no particular time: the timeless beauty of great music.”  On this night, in tiny little Newkirk, Oklahoma, at the First Council Casino, those in attendance were treated to an entire set of music that had no spatial limitations.  The music cascading from the stage, on this evening, was as fresh, exciting and emotional as it was forty plus years ago.

Just think what has happened in the world since Creedence Clearwater Revival first released their debut album in 1968.  Man has walked on the moon, Woodstock came and went, the Vietnam War ended, Watergate saw Nixon step down as President, the Iran Hostage crisis happened, President Reagan was shot, the Cold War ended, two Bush’s became Commander in Chief, the Berlin Wall fell, 9/11 shook us to our core, the Iraq War took place, a black man was elected to the Presidency, gay marriage has become commonplace…and this is just scratching the surface.  Our world has been through vast technological advances, numerous revolutions and countless episodes of both horror and hope. To fathom the fact that, after all the world has been through since the 1960’s, these songs are still vibrant and powerful is a testament to the true spiritual essence of music. 

Sure, every rock and roll fanatic worth his salt knows the story behind CCR and how John Fogerty and the two remaining original members, Doug Clifford and Stu Cook, had a falling out.  Sure, Fogerty wrote the music and it is understandable that without him a huge part of the original band is missing.  That said, Cook and Clifford were there from the beginning, in 7th grade when they met and in the 8th grade when they first met two fellows named John and Tom Fogerty.  Clifford and Cook were a part of the creative process of these songs coming together as part of the band, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and, because of that, these songs are part of their musical DNA. 

The above set list contains nothing but iconic classic rock songs.  From “Born on the Bayou” through “Up Around the Bend” this concert featured many of the most important songs from their generation, yet, as stated earlier, they fit comfortably in 2013 without coming off as oldies or retro. 

“Proud Mary,” “Heard It Through the Grapevine,” “Susie Q,” “Green River,” and “Fortunate Son” are all powerful songs that bring out something special in people.  “Have You Ever Seen the Rain,” “Who’ll Stop the Rain,” “The Midnight Special,” “Lodi”  and “Long as I Can See the Light” wash over the crowd and evoke feelings that make people sing along in earnest to these classic songs.

Clifford and Cook not only still perform these tunes flawlessly; they understand that the live role of John Fogerty must be taken seriously.  It really took two guys to fill that role, as John was the lead vocalist and lead guitarist while Tom played rhythm. 

Enter John “Bulldog” Tristao, who handles the vocals and rhythm guitar duties, and Kurt Griffey on lead guitar.  Bulldog not only sounds as good as Fogerty, he has a fun way of performing that mixes rock and roll showmanship with vaudeville humor. 

Griffey is one hell of a guitar player.  He is note perfect on every classic lick, yet the elongated live versions of “Susie Q” and “Heard It Through the Grapevine” allow him to add tons of flavor and guitar heroics, breathing fresh air into these musical passages.  Elsewhere, Steve Gunner is the jack of all trades playing keyboards, acoustic guitar, harmonica and percussion.

The naysayer has claimed Creedence Clearwater Revisited is nothing but a tribute band.  After witnessing tonight’s performance that is simply not the case.  Again, John Fogerty is a musical icon and his creativity is the reason these great songs exist.  There is no arguing his importance in CCR’s history.  However, Clifford and Cook do more than just pay tribute to these tunes.  They pour their hearts and souls into them.  A tribute band is simply paying homage to the music they love; this band is in love with the music they perform. 

The true test of any concert is how the music makes you feel.  On this night, this writer walked away with a wonderful feeling, having just witnessed timeless, historical music, performed to perfection. Creedence Clearwater Revisited not only looks to the past, performing these icon songs, they bring them to the modern day, reminding us all of the true importance of music.