I got into my car with great trepidation early Sunday afternoon because of the strong possibility of bad weather that would dampen the enjoyment of seeing Creedence Clearwater Revisited and George Thorogood and the Destroyers. Although it rained heavily on the way up to Hinckley from the Twin Cities and on the way back, the weather gods cooperated and kept things dry throughout the entire show. The Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe welcomed all the concert goers with free plastic rain ponchos as they entered. Fortunately for every one at the Grand Casino Amphitheater, in spite of classic Creedence hits like "Who'll Stop The Rain" and "Have You Ever Seen The Rain," the weather stayed dry until 30 minutes after George Thorogood finished rocking the house. Even better was the fact that despite the earlier rain, the padded seats in the outside amphitheater were dry and comfortable.
While Creedence Clearwater Revisited could easily be dismissed as a nostalgia act, they played their old Creedence hits capably and with tremendous enthusiasm. Like all great music, Creedence tunes have a timeless quality. The band heated up their swamp rock sound right away as they slammed into "Born on the Bayou." They then proceeded to work their way through most of their big hits, stopping here and there so original Creedence Clearwater Revival members Stu Cook (bass) and Doug "Cosmo" Clifford (drums) could offer fond memories of the "good old days" and thank the fans for keeping the memory of the band and their music alive.
Johnny "Knucklehead" Tessio, a beefy biker in Harley boots, black jeans, and biker kerchief, played rhythm guitar on his Fender Stratocaster with its custom orange and yellow flames. Tessio did a solid job of recreating the sound and feel of original Creedence vocalist John Fogarty. Elliot Easton, former lead guitarist for The Cars provided excellent guitar licks. The crowd was on their feet dancing and singing along to hits like "Looking Out My Backdoor," and "Bad Moon Rising." Stu and Doug have been playing these songs again since forming Creedence Clearwater Revisited in 1995. Still, they both looked and sounded great, exhibiting their enjoyment playing music and interacting with the fans. Stu, Knucklehead and Elliot joined together several times at the front of the stage to move and play in unison. All the while Twin Citian Steven Michael Gouvner alternately played keyboards, harmonica, acoustic guitar and percussion steadily on the right side of the stage.
The songs were like old, familiar friends for everyone that enjoyed Creedence Clearwater Revival back in the 60's and 70's. The band closed things up with a rocking encore that included "Travelling Band," "Run Through the Jungle," and "Up Around the Bend." There was nothing new offered during the show, but the fans got exactly what they wanted to hear and responded enthusiastically to the energetic and talented performance by the band.
Following the show put on by Creedence Clearwater Revisited filled with classic hits from the band's heyday, the crowd collectively prepared itself for the signature power-slide of "Lonesome" George Thorogood and The Destroyers. As expected, George and the band came out in a thunder of sound, opening with a classic of their own, "Long Gone." George immediately proved that he was on fire powering his way through familiar tunes like "Who Do You Love" and "Night Time." Along with George's power slide guitar, the show also included numerous burning sax solos. George maintained a good rapport with the crowd, promising to do everything in his power to "get arrested tonight." Throughout the show, the powerful bass drove the beat of the songs as George held court, strutting back and forth across the stage, posing and posturing for the audience. This was the case during "I Drink Alone," as George continued to stalk the stage; strutting, swaying and playing the crowd.
As George continued to perform during what he referred to as the "Sunday Night Jamboree and Hootenany," he demonstrated time and time again that he really knows how to boogie. On his version of John Lee Hooker's "House Rent Boogie," George opted to perform with only guitar and drum accompaniment. Later on Willie Dixon's classic, "I'm Ready," George shed his guitar and only did the vocals. After indicating to the audience that there were just two kinds of music, "The blues and that s- they play on MTV," George finally got into some serious slide guitar on "Get A Haircut" and "Bad To The Bone," offering some particularly vicious slide guitar. Powering on through "Gearjammer" and "Move It On Over, George found another level powering up even further on the slide.
After leaving the stage briefly, the band returned for an encore that included "Treat Her Right" and "Rockin' My Life Away." At the very end of the show, George collapsed in a symbolic heap on the stage, allowing himself to be lifted back to his feet by the other members of the band. It was clear that George had given it up big time for the appreciative crowd, leaving them wanting more but satisfied with what they had been given. The Grand Casino again proved that it is an excellent, fan friendly, outdoor venue with a great sound system. It's an easy drive from the Twin Cities so be sure to consider heading up that way to hear some of the great music they offer on a regular basis.
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