The songs are instantly familiar — longstanding anthems of the free-spirited ’60s, living on four decades after the fact.
What’s less familiar is the band that now performs them.
Creedence Clearwater Revisited, offshoot of the seminal ’60s band Creedence Clearwater Revival, features only two of the four original members — bassist Stu Cook and drummer Doug Clifford — but the songs hit just as hard as they ever did.
“The catalogue we’re playing is one of the best,” Cook said, during a tour stop in Grand Rapids, Mich.
“Creedence fans know their Creedence, and we’ve spent a considerable amount of time getting it right on our end, so that after a concert they can take away a good experience.”
The current lineup features new members John Tristao, Steve Gunner and Kurt Griffey playing alongside Cook and Clifford.
Though lacking the presence of original front man John Fogerty, Cook said the band can still hold its own.
“Having been in both bands, I can say that it’s right in there, you know?” he said.
“It’s an extremely reasonable substitute for the original band, and you know, here we are, some 40-plus years later, it’s about as close as you’re gonna get.”
The new incarnation of CCR came about in the early ’90s, when Cook and Clifford found themselves living near each other in northern Nevada.
After some casual jam sessions, the pair found themselves yearning for the complete sound of a full band — though that in itself raised a few pressing questions.
“Are we going to record new material, are we going to write new material, or what are we going to do?” Cook recalled.
“And we said well, let’s just start with the stuff that we helped to make famous before. Why should we start over? That doesn’t make a lot of sense. None of the original members have been playing it live for a long time.”
Sensing the nostalgic demand from generations of CCR fans, the pair moved forward with the project, albeit timidly at first, choosing to play only private parties.
After playing only six shows that first year, the new CCR found their assumptions proven right when they were signed to more than 100 the next.
“We’ve trimmed it back to about 75 a year now, but we play all over the world,” Cook said.
“Mostly in the United States and Canada, but some in Mexico, and a lot in South America, New Zealand, Australia, we’ve toured the Orient, we’ve toured Europe a lot. We’ve played in over 30 countries I think.”
Perhaps part of the reason for the band’s renewed success, Cook believes, is their retro appeal.
“Music, like everything else I guess, goes through cycles, so what’s hip today will become passé, and then it comes back around again, and it gets hip again,” he said with a laugh.
“It’s hard for me to comment on the music of today because popular music is meant for the generation that it’s written and performed for, and I’m not of that generation.”
While the early days of the original CCR now seem like a different world entirely, Cook is confident that the driving spirit of the ’60s is still alive today.
“It’s just harder and harder for it to fight its way through the sludge that’s sort of laid over the whole music thing,” he said.
“Music used to be more important in people’s lives than it is. It’s a shame that lives are so filled up with phony friendships and social interaction that isn’t really very social … When you fan or like somebody on facebook, it’s not the same as when you went down and you got the new Otis Redding album.”
Today, the music that became the soundtrack of a generation is proving itself still relevant through acts like the new CCR.
Even after all these years, Cook still finds excitement in the songs he and his band perfected decades ago.
“It’s like putting on your favourite pair of shoes, or your slippers or boots, and at the same time it’s quite amazing,” he said.
“Who ever would have thought that there would even be a senior rock tour?”
Creedence Clearwater Revisited plays the E.A. Rawlinson Centre on Sunday, July 22.
Tickets, while very nearly sold out, range from $80.85 - $86.10, and are available by calling the Rawlinson Centre box office at 765-1270.