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Concert Reviews:
John Fogerty, ZZ Top hits combat the rain at DTE

By Gary Graff
ggraff@digitalfirstmedia.com, @GraffonMusic on Twi

Posted: Thursday, June 28, 2018

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INDEPENDENCE TOWNSHIP -- John Fogerty’s the guy who sings that it “looks like we’re in for nasty weather” -- and that’s exactly what he and ZZ Top encountered Monday night, June 27, when their tour rolled into the DTE Energy Music Theatre.

But both acts still delivered the “rockin’ good time” that Fogerty promised near the start of his portion of the stormy evening.

That should be no surprise, of course. Although the pairing looks a bit odd on paper, the two acts are of a similar vintage and share a wealth of influences from blues, R&B and early rock. They also have a ton of hits between them, which made it well worth it for the 6,000 or so fans who braved the rain that tapered off just as ZZ Top was hitting the stage.

And there was a welcome variety as the two offered decidedly different performances. Fogerty’s 90-minute set, a version of the residency concerts he puts on in Las Vegas, was a tour-de-force, celebrating 50 years since his first albums with Creedence Clearwater Revival with a bit of scripted narration and historical footage on the large video screen at the rear of the stage. Sporting a jacket embroidered with planets, a denim shirt and blue neckerchief and brandishing the modified Rickenbacker guitar and amplifier he played at the first Woodstock festival -- which was returned to him two years ago as Christmas gift from his wife/manager Julie after a 44-year absence -- Fogerty’s Southern-flavored voice was in good form and his guitar-playing spot-on throughout a briskly paced 24-song performance.

The you want it/you got it parade of favorites started with high-octane renditions of CCR’s “Travelin’ Band” and “Hey Tonight” and visited the high points of that band’s catalog (including the appropriate “Who’ll Stop the Rain” and “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?) as well as Fogerty solo hits such as “Centerfield” and “Rock and Roll Girls.” He was backed by an eight-piece band that included his son Shane on guitar (trading solos on “The Old Man Down the Road” and first-call drummer Kenny Aronoff, along with a three-piece horn section that paraded through the DTE pavilion during a rendition of Gary U.S. Bonds’ “New Orleans.”

Another Fogerty son, red-suited Tyler, joined the party to duet on covers of Little Richard’s “Good Golly Miss Molly” and the Sonics’ “Psycho,” while the Motown staple “I Heard it Through the Grapevine” was laced with expansive guitar solos. ZZ Top’s Billy F. Gibbons played on the new single “Holy Grail” and CCR’s “Green River,” while Fogerty gave a shout-out to country star Brad Paisley’s Thursday, June 28, show at DTE before playing their collaboration “Love and War,” which calls for better treatment for U.S. military veterans.

Fogerty ended with “Bad Moon Rising” and a confetti-laced “Proud Mary,” the latter accented with a horn arrangement patterned after the famed Ike & Tina Turner cover of the song -- and fan singalongs that continued as they rolled into the DTE parking lot.

ZZ Top was, by contrast, more restrained and straightforward -- but still packed plenty of sonic punch thanks to Gibbons’ guitar heroics (despite a broken finger on his right hand) and a particularly loud sound mix. The Texas trio is marking the 35th anniversary of its multi-platinum “Eliminator” album and opened, appropriately, with its “Got Me Under Pressure,” starting a 65-minute set that shifted between hard rock and heavy blues, nodding to its own roots with covers of Sam & Dave’s “I Thank You” and Merle Travis’ “Sixteen Tons.”

ZZ Top sprinted through its set with little interruption and only occasional words from Gibbons, with an assortment of video images blending with live footage on the screen. The group stretched out on the pairing of “Waitin’ For the Bus” and “Jesus Just Left Chicago,” while a punky “Pearl Necklace” gave way to the hard groove of “I’m Bad, I’m Nationwide.” Gibbons and bassist Dusty Hill engaged in a bit of the group’s trademark two-step choreography, and during a playful finale of “Tush” a crew member came on to light Gibbons’ cigar as he played a solo.

The weather had cleared by the end of the night, though the bad (actually strawberry) moon hadn’t risen out of the clouds above DTE. But all those hits certainly elevated the night above weather that could have otherwise led to a serious wash-out.

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