Being an extra on John Fogerty's Live at the Albert Hall DVD

Martin Belam  by Martin Belam, 30 June 2008

I went to see John Fogerty at the Royal Albert Hall on Tuesday. I've been a big fan of Creedence Clearwater Revival ever since listening to my dad's tapes in the car in the 1970s - as you'll be finding out in a series of articles about music nostalgia I've got coming up in July - and so it was an ambition fulfilled to finally see him live.

John Fogerty Royal Albert Hall poster

John Fogerty was also fulfilling an ambition as well. 37 years ago, Creedence Clearwater Revival played at the same venue, and thereafter there followed one of the most legally complicated and acrimonious band break-ups in rock history. John wasn't on speaking terms with his brother Tom when he died in the 1990s, and even when the surviving members were inducted into the Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame in 1993, Fogerty still couldn't bury the hatchet and refused to let Stu Cook and Doug Clifford play on stage.

Creedence Clearwater Revival

The evening was being recorded for a DVD release later this year. I know this, because it was one of the most intrusive film recordings at a show I have ever had the misfortune to witness. I've been to several shows that have made it onto commercial DVD release (Erasure at the Royal Albert Hall, Depeche Mode in Milan, Happy Mondays on SNUB-TV with a big slo-mo close-up of my seemingly drug-addled face) but I'd never seen anything like this.

First of all, before the band started, we were introduced to the director. Lights were then put onto the crowd, and we were asked to jump and down and give our best enthusiasm so they could get some good 'audience reaction' shots. They then ferried various groups of fans down to the front of the stage in order to do some close-up reaction shots and some pans across the crowd. Then the producer of the DVD came on stage to explain to us that the DVD was going to be great, they were so glad to be making it, and they would try not to disrupt the evening too much.

Which was a lie...

The show started with a couple of storming numbers - "Comin' Down The Road" and Creedence classic "Born On The Bayou". The crowd was up and dancing, and it looked set to be a great night.

And then they had to pause so that Fogerty's make-up could be re-touched.

Then a few more numbers, then another lengthy pause as a costume adjustment was made.

And so on...and so on. It was more like being at the filming of a TV show than a gig.

Eventually the crowd started booing during one of the interruptions, and so Fogerty's backing band filled in to play a couple of rock'n'roll cover numbers as the complicated business of getting 6 stools placed in the right spot on stage was accomplished.

Any momentum that was built up during the set-list was destroyed by the frequent pauses to meet the demands of the DVD filming. It felt like being extras on a set, rather than being thousands of fans who had paid £40+ in order to see the show.

Late on, John Fogerty rescued the night for me by playing a closing run of CCR hits like 'Proud Mary', 'Fortunate Son' and 'Down On The Corner', but at times earlier in the evening the atmosphere in the Albert Hall had been rendered completely flat. It will be interesting to see how that translates to DVD...

27 Comments

Sorry the concert got ruined. Maybe that DVD will make it all better. I bet it will be better than the show itself!
Jim
Spokane WA
Please help a rock star by visiting my personal fan site:
http://LetHerIn.org

I was there too.
I was so disgusted that I got my ticket refunded.
I still feel used though.

I've been a Fogerty fan since god knows when. My first two LP's were CCR, I've seen him in concert before and it was brilliant but the RAH was rubbish. A spoilt evening. We (6 of us) walked out while the second hand clap was on - and there were others walking out as well. I still listen to his music but never again will I go to one of his concerts. A waste for £500 for the 6 of us.

I was also at this concert, visiting from Toronto, and I totally agree with everything that's been said here. I have never seen such contempt for a (high) paying audience, including having this aforementioned producer turning his back and making 'kiss-my-ass' gestures to us even as he was in the act of supposedly apologising. Meanwhile his totally undisciplined crew were standing around on stage taking souvenir group snapshots of themselves, people were tuning up (they've never heard of silent tuners?), noodling around tunelessly on the drums and guitars, performing sound checks, lighting checks and the thousand other little things that a professional outfit would already have taken care of long before the first of the audience showed up. We eventually had to abandon our seats and sit behind the stage (terrible sound) because we were forced out by the paid extras or hired fans, or whatever they were, who were parachuted in to stand in front of us and dance and shout, making it impossible for us to enjoy the show. It was really quite pathetic and strange to see, from the performers' viewpoint, this large, hostile and sullen audience dotted with pools of film lighting populated with paid actors going berserk. The entire genuine audience was utterly hostile before very long but the editors will no doubt cheat it on the DVD using their phoney audience shots. The whole think reeked of fakery. I'll be fascinated to see what they turn it into ... a triumph , no doubt. I certainly won't buy this DVD - I also resent the very thought of paying a rental fee to get to see it. I already feel as if I've had my pocket picked.

I think all of the above comments came from the same person, or his friends. Believe me, we were there too and the concert was just GREAT. I already heard a recording (made by a friend) and it sounds just terrific. I don't understand what the above people really want to achieve and why they are writing lies like this... they certainly are NO John Fogerty fans. Also they probably ruined it for the UK fans forever; after reading this John will probably never show up over there anymore... a pity, cause he's one of the greatest Rock and Rollers EVER !
Robert

I don't understand all this negative writing about the RAH concert!
I was there too, with a friend and coming from the Netherlands. And we had a great time! I've seen 2 other concerts during the latest tour (Bonn in Germany and Rotterdam in the Netherlands) and I knew he was going to record the RAH concert, which is why he played some mostly never played live songs every night. He changed these every night, so he and the band built up quite a collection on rarely played songs, which eventually would be played at the RAH (and that the dvd wouldn't be almost equal to the previous two dvd's.

I believe you are exaggarating about the numerous stops for the filming. It only happened three (3!) times: twice for doing his make-up and the third time for changing his shirt, while the band played two great and almost forgotten rock & roll songs. After that: no more stops but a rousing rock & roll show!

We had great seats at Stalls J, row 6. So we were NOT in the arena part of the RAH and so we were not frontstage. I know quite a few of the people who were (I've met them at John Fogerty concerts over the last 10 years), and they are very nice people! That some of them visit all or most concerts during his European tour is just because they are crazy about him and his music.

And yes, I saw people leaving early. Most of them checking their watches, so I'm pretty sure that they left early because of tube- or train connections. We just managed to catch the last tube to our hotel, but we saw the complete concert.

It would have been better that there wasn't a supporting act and that John started at 8 o'clock. But he didn't, so that's it.

I consider myself a loyal John Fogerty/CCR-fan, but that doesn't mean that I like everything he's ever done. But none of these were played at the RAH! I'm glad he didn't do Bad Moon Rising and to me he could have decided not to play Proud Mary as well. We've heard all these songs during all his concerts in the last 10 years. I'm glad he played that many rarely performed songs, like Ramble Tamble and Comin' Down The Road (thanks to some fans from Finland!).

So people, please stop moaning about the RAH concert and get on with your life!

Harry

P.S.
Alan: I hope you'll be a good sport and publish this entirely! Thanks in advance.

P.S. Alan: I hope you'll be a good sport and publish this entirely! Thanks in advance.

Erm, well, I don't know who Alan is, but I'm happy to oblige...

I don't understand what the above people really want to achieve and why they are writing lies like this... they certainly are NO John Fogerty fans.

I first started playing my dad's CCR 7" singles in the mid-seventies when I was six or seven, which means I consider I've been a fan for thirty years. But, hey, what do I know?

Robert - Please don't say I'm not a fan. Buying all the records - and 2 DVD's over the past 35 years is, in my book, being a fan. Throw your rose-tinted glasses away! If he'd sung baa-baa-black sheep you would have raved about it! Get real, it was a crap concert. Loads of the audience left - and that really says it all. It was a spoilt eveing. It might have been good for you - but compared to Wembley and the Apolloa - it COULD HAVE BEEN SO-O-O-O MUCH BETTER! And that's the point.

hi all
this was the 1st time i have seen john. i am a big boss fan so john had to really impress me. and he did i thought the show was outstanding. would love to be able to get a boot of it

regards bruce

I never bother to write reviews but I was so incensed by the RAH rip off that I posted one on a site saying what a rubbish concert this one was. I've been a fan of CCR since they started and thought John Fogerty was really great at Wembley last year-playing non stop with great enthusiasm. So I was looking forward to RAH--and then was so disappointed-- I totally agree with all the comments about how the DVD filmers (and JF?) took the audience for suckers --charging full price for a very sub standard show. If you want to make a DVD then charge 1/2 prices for those who want to go. I also talked to others in the break who'd been roped in by the filmers to 'go mad' at the front--they had even been asked 'do you know any of the words?' How pathetic! Next time John give the fans value for money and dump the arrogant DVD fool producer.

Just to wade in (belatedly) to the debate so kindly posted by Martin: it was a substandard gig particularly by Fogerty's standards. There were some great moments: the Creedence stuff particularly 'Hey Tonight' superb, the Blue Ridge material welcome too - but if I'd never seen Fogerty before I'd have been sorely disappointed. The problem wasn't only the material choice, replacing Bad Moon with that dodgy Elvis cover for instance, but 1.) the frustrating loss of momentum due to the forced breaks and 2.) the fact that so many of the audience felt used. Let's not beat around the bush: this is Fogerty's fault not his DVD director's or record company's, and I say this as his most loyal fan (c.f. my Amazon.co.uk reviews). A man who has been so screwed by the industry needs to realise that pleasing his real fans comes before producing corporate product. To give him the benefit of doubt - possibly he didn't realise how intrusive the staging of this DVD would be - but he could have apologised once he did realise - they could edit it out! If they film again in that manner they should at least tell the audience beforehand - then no one can have any cause for complaint. That said, a substandard Fogerty gig is still way better than anyone else's. I will buy the DVD to see how they made it look and I'll definitely see him again.

John come back soon and blow us all away properly!

Hi Martin - I was there too and couldn't agree more. I don't know a lot of CCR stuff, but what I know, I love.

When it started the atmosphere was amazing. I'd never seen a crowd so up for it. As you say the constant stopping and starting quickly ruined this.

As did the band to be honest. I'm trying to remember now, but there was something like five guitarists on stage and it was all too heavy.

Don't get me wrong, I *love* to rock out, but for me the best CCR stuff is subtle, the over emphasis on guitar, the OTT drums et al, meant that it sounded more like a pub gig than a celebration of a late 60s icon with an awesome back catalogue...

I was at the RAH, and also at the Wembley concert last year and I completely agree with everything Martin has posted on what a huge disappointment the RAH concert was. In fact, I emailed the RAH within days to complain and finally got a reply back this week saying my tickets will be refunded in full.I paid £100 for 2 seats in the boxes, which I bought within 5 mins of the tickets going on sale. So am I a UK fan? I guess you could say so...

This should have been a great concert in a wonderful venue - the man playing the fiddle was outstanding, and I will be honest in saying I did enjoy the fill-in songs by Billy Burnett and the band during the "do we want the stools on or off stage episode".

But the reality is that whilst this should have been a great concert and started well, the late start and the long and repetitive pauses totally spoilt it for me. I then ended up having to clockwatch and eventually leave early or else miss my train home.

It was a massive disappointment, having been a huge fan for years.

Will I go to one of his concerts again? I probably will as I know how good they can be.

Will I buy the DVD? Yes, out of curiosity....

There was a huge amount of arrogance on display during that concert from JF and the director with no real apologies. I do find that hard to forgive.

I also feel sorry for one of JF's poor sons who clearly did not want to be there, but played a song with "dad" and his brother... At times I thought I was watching the Waltons...!! ...love you, love you too!

Come back John and do it PROPERLY next time....You are capable of so much more.

I got my 6 tickets refunded as well - £300 of it. So all upset people, ask for a refund from the RAH - it has to be in writing; email is amandac@royalalberthall.com. Actually I'd rather be £300 worse off and had a great night!

Yeah there were interruptions, but it's what you expect when you know it's being recorded. I was clock watching at the end because of catching the last tube home. Would have been better as has been said without the support act and the tacky syrupy stuff with wife & kids was yuk, but that's partly the difference between Brits and Americans. I enjoyed seeing Fogerty for the first time since a 3 man Creedence. Anybody have any idea what's happening about the DVD? The JF website has gone silent and there's no pre-order info at Amazon. Getting a bit late for a Christmas release now.

I've been a JF/Creedence fan since Proud Mary. But I've only been to one concert of anybody's in my life, that being a Neil Diamond concert in 1971, I think. So, I really don't have a right to comment on concerts. Although, as I watch the premonition DVD and then compare it to the Long Road Home DVD, I understand what the other guy was saying about the "heaviness" of the latter.

In either case, I remember being in the US Navy, aboard an aircraft carrier from April of '70 to December of '73 , and listening to Creedence and JF on my eight track through my headphones. Forgerty and the guys truly got me home! They were there when I fell in love, got my first car, and never, ever left me or let me down from then on.

So after everything is said and done, thanks for the memories, the pain, and all the other emotions your songs put me through, John. I feel like I know you better than anyone in my life. As a matter of fact, you are the longest lasting friend I have. Thanks

Just found your site so apologies for the late entry. I was at the RAH for the Fogerty concerts in 1971 and 2008. (Okay it was CCR in 1971 but Fogerty was there too :-))
In 1971 they played a rip-roaring set, had people dancing in the aisles - despite ushers and security trying to prevent this - and sounded exactly like they did on record (no CDs in those days). I have to admit I was a bit peeved by the make-up break and the shirt break at the 2008 concert but after the second break Fogerty announced that it was his last shirt and he wasn't taking anymore time out - and he didn't. My only regret from the concert was that he didn't play Green River which he had done at (almost) every preceeding concert (and it seems every concert after RAH). My wife was never a CCR fan, she put up with me playing it (lots) but she was converted to Fogerty live in concert after seeing him at RAH (2008) and would happily go see him again.
John Fogerty is what good time rock n roll is all about.

I was at this concert. Have been watching for the DVD. Has it ever been released?

I just found this website while trying to find a release date for the DVD. I too was at the gig and really wouldnt mind seeing the DVD. I know it was meant to be a Christmas release and its still not out. 4 months late without a hint of a release date.

We were also was at RAH it was a great (as much as i love his music) shame cos many people was disapointed by the take over of the said DVD 9 Which is still to be released ??..wonder why ?? and the time the show started/finished ,many people i belive had to go to catch trains all be it the last ones !! but the thing that has upset me is the fact that JF staff have not come out on his site and appoligesed or said anything about the RAH mess !! and why he is not performing here in 2009 .???????? is it because of RHA mess ???

We too were at the concert.

First we had to be relocated because the (front row) seats we had booked had been requisitioned by a camera. This didn't make for an auspicious start.

The whole filming was an irritant and the camera crew "crouching down" two inches in an effort to minimise their impact was farcical.

The setting up, taking down, setting up again of the chairs was laughable; the make-up retouches and changes of shirts gave an impression of extreme vanity (and how long does it take to change a shirt anyway? The guy was off-stage for what seemed like about 30 minutes - certainly long enough for the band to play several numbers); the wifey/flowers/ kissy kissy see-how-much-in-love-we-are thing was nauseating.

But I think the thing that made me maddest was JF sneering at the audience and saying "WE'RE allowed to use cameras - YOU'RE not!"

If he doesn't come back, it won't be any loss. I'd never pay good money to see him again - even now, a year later, I still feel robbed and used.

The Fogerty DVD to Be Released . . .

"New DVD 'Comin' Down The Road:

The Concert At Royal Albert Hall

To Be Released 11/3/2009

Come on by the unofficial Fogerty Freeks Forum and join the discussion about this night at the Royal Albert Hall. If you actually attended this show let people know what your experience was that night. Good, bad or indifferent. Just sign-up as a Yuku user and post your experience.

See you there . . .

~LTD~

A sad thing to read of the mistreatment of fans at the RAH by John Fogerty. Evidently it has taken Fogerty a year and a half to mix and overdub the audio which he always does on his live releases. I guess editing the mistreatment of the crowd has taken a long time also. The manipulation of the fans in the audience and arrogance of Fogerty and the film crew just confirms that Fogerty truly does not care about his fans and is a jerk to boot.

I was at the 1st Albert Hall gig - went with a mate called Pete Bull who took some photos! Don't know where Pete is now but would love to hear from anyone who might have photos from this show as I got John Fogerty to sign a picture sleeve single but authenticity as to CCR being a 3 piece band on this occasion has been questioned!!!
Thanx!

I've been watching the RAH DVD every day and I like it better than the previous ones...and now some people here say the concert was rubbish etc...okay...I wasn't there but I'm not blind...in fact,ten days before RAH concert I was in Fogerty's concert in Ljubljana, Slovenia and I know what his concerts are like...I am a true Fogerty fan who would be most happy to be able to attend such a concert, but living far away from Britain I really couldn't manage to come to London and be a part of this historic concert...of course, it wasn't
a 'normal'concert because it was filmed for a
DVD...I really can't understand how a'true
Fogerty fan' can boo him,leave the concert or
insult him...the Man who is a living legend, an American national treasure...the Man who wrote one of best rock songs ever - PROUD MARY... for me it's just unimaginably and utterly insulting...oh yeah...you had to catch your last train/bus/tube...how pathetic...it just proves the well-known fact that most (not all) British are conceited and...no, I don't want to insult you...well,my advice to John...wait another 37 years to come to Britain, and,in the meantime, it's about time to come to Croatia...LOL

Personally I would expect the ‘true John Fogerty fan’ to be a critical and autonomous thinker of some taste, not an unquestioning dolt. After all, many of his songs have an integrity that questions deeply. How depressing for him to have to play them for Croatian ‘fans’ who don’t understand that, and can’t quite grasp the fact that intelligent criticism can be useful.

So after eighteen months of rumour and speculation for creedophlies the length and breadth of the country, the DVD of the Royal Albert Hall gig has finally arrived. The fact is that director and editor Michael Darren, who pissed off so many fans that night, has done a really, really good job. The swathes of purple and blue lighting are stunning: Fogerty in black and gold with gold top Les Paul, and the band in black, justifies the costume change hiatus. Darren is a quality audio editor, using Bob Clearmountain’s recording of the dead RAH sound, the band are powerhouse strong and rockabilly tight, with invisible transitions merging audience applause into a seamless whole. Unlike his physical presence, Darren’s visual editing is slick and unobtrusive, using split screens on ‘Fortunate Son’ and icy blue gels on ‘Blue Ridge Mountain Blues’ to maximum effect. A comprehensive filming vocabulary allows him to slice a variety of angles, shots and movements, close ups on the band, hands, crane pans of the flesh-pressing with the whipped-up Dutch fans at the front and a subtle use of fades, into one finely edited product. Quick flowing cuts anchor the pacey songs, so mercifully there is only a clip of the wife and flowers after the emotional ‘Broken Down Cowboy’, and the stool pantomime on ‘Gunslinger’ is history. Tension apparently makes Fogerty’s curt remarks more declamatory than usual to begin with, but they are kept to a minimum too. He loosened up considerably towards the end of what became a memorable gig – the cynic might point to seats vacated by protestors, but you wouldn’t really notice. The appearance of a beatlesque Tyler and Shane Fogerty on ‘Up Around The Bend’ is included, but not all the evening’s set makes the final cut: Billy Burnette’s heroics during the shirt hiatus have been trashed, along with the Carl Perkin’s cover that replaced ‘Bad Moon Rising’.

Judging by the other comments here this DVD is a lesson in how to slight the reputation of, and simultaneously provide a facelift to, the roots rocking phenomenon and southern fried speedball genius that is John Fogerty.

Job done Mr Darren, I guess.

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