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Creedence Clearwater at Billy Bob's, March 22, 2008

Creedence Clearwater at Billy Bob's - click to view the entire galleryFans of the original Creedence Clearwater Revival will not be disappointed with the band’s current incarnation (Creedence Clearwater Revisited). Purists may find this sacrilegious, but Saturday night at Billy Bob’s, replacement lead singer John Tristao proved he’s plenty capable of filling John Fogerty’s shoes, providing all of the dynamic vocal range of his predecessor without bordering on screeching.

After a somewhat clumsy entrance (they were announced by 92.5’s Bo and Jim, but then unceremoniously appeared several awkward minutes later), they got right down to the business of laying down some solid rock and roll. CCR played a string of audience favorites including Born on the Bayou, The Old Man Down the Road, Lodi, our photographer's favorite: Who’ll Stop the Rain, and Down on the Corner. The lead guitar work on Susie Q was particularly good, as Tal Morris made effective use of extensive feedback in the song’s intro and later did an extended, screaming solo that could almost be described as Satrianic (or maybe Johnsonesque?).

Most aspects of the show worked very well, as the transition between songs was smooth and the band was tight. I would have liked to hear more lead vocal and less low end in the sound mix, but the lights set the perfect mood for a rock concert, with intelligent lighting sweeping the stage, providing an additional element of excitement without being intrusive. One of band’s strong points is their background vocalization. Original bassist Stu Cook has perfected the art of harmonizing, blending seamlessly with Tristao’s lead vocals without overpowering them. The band was animated and clearly having a good time, and this resonated with the audience. Although original drummer Doug “Cosmo” Clifford’s tempo was not entirely consistent (he slowed down on Lodi and sped up on Susie Q), the band’s overall performance was very powerful and faithful to the original recordings we all know and love.

The only time the show slowed down was when Clifford came out from behind the drums to address the audience, giving a history lesson of the band which although relatively brief, was still long enough to drain most of the energy from the room. While he’s certainly earned the right to do whatever he wants onstage (having been a band member for forty years), Creedence Clearwater Revisited’s strength is in their music-making.

Do yourself a favor and make sure to catch Creedence Clearwater Revisited the next time they come around. They remain faithful to the original songs just as you remember them, but they perform with renewed energy and enthusiasm. It’s an unbeatable combination!

Review by Kent Matthew, staff writer

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