Creedence Clearwater Inspired Featuring Proud Mary
QPAC, Concert Hall
Friday was a night of contrasts at QPAC; while Lyric Theatre audiences were being drawn into the graceful fairy-tale world of Queensland Ballet’s “The Sleeping Beauty”, next door in The Concert Hall, attendees were rocking back to a time when Creedence Clearwater Revival was the soundtrack of a generation. For two hours, “Creedence Clearwater Inspired Featuring Proud Mary” pays tribute to the prolific American band and its six platinum album contribution to the cannon of popular music in a manner that is infectious in its appeal from its very first number.
Beginning with the gravelly ode to the New Orleans area, ‘Born on the Bayou’, CCR’s 1969 Woodstock set opener, audience expectations are immediate met, both musically and thematically. Things blast along from here, though the quartet’s cover of ‘Suzie Q’ from the band’s self-assured self-titled debut album and hits such as the playful ‘Lookin’ Our My Back Door’, the jaunty ‘Bad Moon Rising’ and the funky ‘Down On The Corner’, crescendoing in energy and volume in a charging ‘Molina’, erupting the balcony audience in particular into full party mode.
The show, which features a line-up of extraordinary Australian rock musicians, is high-energy in its faithful recreation of the sound and feel of CCR at the height of their fame. Indeed, they not only effectively rework some of CCR’s longer arrangements into versions that work in a live show, but they maintain the integrity of the swampy sounds of John Fogerty, Tom Fogerty, Stu Cook and Doug Clifford, throughout. Depth is also added to the grass-roots anthems though the Concert Hall’s lush lighting accompaniment, which bathes the venue appropriately for ‘Green River’, while the tempo changes and dramatic instrumentation of ‘Ramble Tamble’ are signposted by in-sync lighting throughout the stalls, making for an even more dynamic experience.
“Creedence Clearwater Inspired Featuring Proud Mary” may have a running time of 2 hours 20 minutes (including interval), but it appears to be over in what seems like the shortest of times, so engaging is its appreciation of the magnificence that is the entire Creedence Clearwater Revival catalogue. Highlights include an intense ‘Fortunate Son’ late in Act Two and quintessential and signature CCR song, the melodic ‘Proud Mary’, as part of a rousing encore, drawing audience members appropriately to their feet.
W.A. based Creedence Clearwater Revival Tribute band Proud Mary features the internationally renowned founding members of five-time ARIA Award winning ‘90s rock icons Baby Animals (bass guitarist Eddie Parise and drummer Frank Celeza), along with frontman Ryan Rafferty and lead guitarist Paul Cushing. And rather than focussing on costuming and choreography in recreation, Proud Mary is all about the music, making it impressive to both true fans and casual listeners alike. Their musicianship is superb throughout. In particular, Rafferty’s gritty voice layers numbers with emotive power while Cushing is formidable in fierce guitar solos such as in lick of ‘I Heard it Through the Grapevine’.
“Creedence Clearwater Inspired Featuring Proud Mary” is the first full-scale concert in Australia dedicated to celebrating the music of Creedence Clearwater Revival and appropriately, the celebration of the hugely influential band is an unforgettable live music experience. It’s authentic re-creation and first-rate musicianship in and of itself, make the brand new concert a huge and hugely-entertaining night out, that you don’t have to be a fan or of baby-boomer vintage to feel. Indeed, Fogerty’s song lyric commentaries about Woodstock, Vietnam and youthful rebellion may have captured the era’s mood, but they are simple and direct enough to resonate across the ages. And the inclusion of his more whimsical ‘Rock and Roll Girls’ along with Status Quo’s poppy ‘Rockin’ All Over the World’ (written by Fogerty) along with CCR’s iconic numbers only add additional interest and reasons to do yourself a favour and get a ticket.
Photos c/o – Justine Walpole