John Fogerty introduced “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?” at the Times Union Center on Sunday by noting how it originally mourned the breakup of Creedence Clearwater Revival but now signifies his joy in his family, which he said healed his heart and allowed him to revisit Creedence songs.
Always defiantly out of step, CCR rocked against the psychedelic sprawl of fellow Bay Area bands — Fogerty’s longest tale Sunday was a complaint that the Grateful Dead delayed CCR’s Woodstock set to 2:30 a.m., when many were asleep — and made concise radio-rock, compressing the whole, wide spectrum of American roots music into three-minute singles. They took over the radio for four dazzling years (1968-72), then broke up.
Fogerty always claimed he’d written, arranged, produced and played all the CCR albums alone, and he continued his one-man-band ways in a solo career richer in recordings than tours. Legal disputes with his record label steered Fogerty away from CCR songs for decades, but he enthusiastically embraced them on his new “Wrote a Song for Everyone” album and the tour that touched down at the Times Union Center on Sunday.
Fogerty’s songs have stayed short, strong and sweet — in the expert hands of drummer Kenny Aronoff, keyboardist Bob Malone, bassist James Lomenzo and guitarist Devon Pangle. “Travelin’ Band” was both mission statement and road map: Fogerty sang nearly all of CCR’s “Cosmo’s Factory,” where “Travelin’ Band” appeared in 1970, plus such late “musts” as “Born on the Bayou,” “Proud Mary,” “Down on the Corner” “Midnight Special,” “Keep on Chooglin’ ” — and many more, because they were so crisp and concise.
Most clocked in around three minutes, but Fogerty’s songwriting talent created complete rock ‘n’ roll worlds in each. “Down the Road I Go” stretched out early, with no frills or fat, while “I Heard it Through the Grapevine,’ “Chooglin’,” Susie Q” and “Hot Rod Heart” also stretched but packed the vintage punch of 4/4 pulse-pounders, with few slower love songs to let off the gas.
Fogerty’s booming, swampy voice — he favored New Orleans inflections even in non-New Orleans songs — showed a few cracks, but his even swampier guitar playing was seamless — strong, subtle and inventive.
He worked every song hard, as if — at age 68 and a member of every hall of fame possible — he still has something to prove. He reached back to his roots in blues, R&B, rockabilly and swamp pop by playing some of his inspirations: Bo Diddley’s “Before You Accuse Me” was the best of these — maybe Fogerty wanted to reclaim it from Eric Clapton. If so, it worked. But he made his own songs stand just as tall and rock just as deep.
Sunday’s concert is available for download at www.johnfogerty.com.