Fogerty vs. Willie

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IN THE FLESH

John Fogerty with Willie Nelson

Aug. 18, 2006

DTE Energy Music Theatre

It was a nostalgia trip for both of them, but as it turned out, Willie Nelson handled it better than John Fogerty. Opening the evening with a headline-worthy set, Nelson indulged with a gentle retelling of “Always on My Mind,” brought feet to tapping with a few Nashville two-step chestnuts, and even rolled out two new songs, just to prove that, at 73, he’s still got a few tricks up his sleeve. “You Don’t Think I’m Funny Anymore” was the better of the two, a wry heartbreaker about a relationship grown long in the tooth. It was cool to watch Nelson earn his legendary status one wink, joke, and melody at a time, and without ever seeming to work harder than necessary. His set unfolded at a gentle, front porch pace, but had a grizzled charm that gave weight to what could have easily been a nostalgic sleepwalk.

While he wasn’t sleepwalking, and in fact tore off a few guitar solos that were pretty crazed, John Fogerty presented what amounted to a highlight reel. Hamstrung by a boring backing band that hit every note with precision and zero soul, and taking the stage only after a taped intro played snippets of nearly every CCR hit, Fogerty’s set was sanitized classic rock, about three steps from a PBS special. Where Nelson was wizened but sly, and could probably start a club tour in a rusty old RV tomorrow if he wanted to, Fogerty was coasting on fumes of memory.

JTL

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