Ed Sheeran at Mohegan Sun Arena May 23. Photo: Joby Rogers.
Face the Music Concert Review: Ed Sheeran and John Fogerty
MIDDLETOWN - Ed Sheeran

       “X” Tour

       Mohegan Sun

       Arena

       May 23, 2015

      

       It seems the only thing that has changed since Ed Sheeran’s club gigs is the video and lighting aspect of the stage production. This was clearly a one-man show.

       The Sun Arena seemed to swallow him up at first, but Sheeran soon was in complete control with only two mike stands, a couple of bottled waters, a few stage monitors and his foot-controlled loop station gathered around him. If you were to watch the show blindfolded, you would have thought there was an entire band on stage, complete with drums, backing vocals and at least two guitars, but Sheeran has found a way to cut costs by using his head and, quite literally, his feet.

       A loop station is an effects machine that lets you loop whatever you play or sing into it. Though innovative, it’s nothing new. I’ve seen it done before as far back as 2004 with KT Tunstall’s “Black Horse and a Cherry Tree.”

       The 8,000-plus fans didn’t seem to mind watching a one-man show. No flash or dancing. Just a man in a T-shirt, singing. Occasionally the loop station would get away from him a bit and he’d knock over a mic stand or a bottled water trying to catch up with it, but it made the experience all the more fun.

       Looking past the gimmickry, you witnessed a man with a great talent for songwriting and an easy-on-the-ears soulful voice. Sheeran’s nearly two-hour set kicked off with “I’m A Mess,” which, frankly, started off a little, well, messy. But he soon found his pace and stayed the course by the third song, “Don’t,” which he used to highlight his impressive rhyming skills, which he bled into Blackstreet’s “No Diggity.” The audience was on its feet from this point forward.

       “Take It Back” was the highlight of the set as he weaved Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition” and “Ain’t No Sunshine” by Bill Withers seamlessly into the groove. The arena was a sea of raised hands from floor to ceiling bouncing at Sheeran’s command during “Bloodstream,” culminating by Sheeran’s impossibly turbo-driven, strumming which left you wondering how a single guitar string survived.

       “Tenerife Sea” prompted Sheeran to ask all in attendance to light up the room with their cells and make some waves. At one point mid-song, he ran upstage to take his own ‘selfie’ with his 8,000 new friends.

       Sheeran moved over from acoustic to electric guitar for “Thinking Out Loud.” Ed pulled on the heartstrings with “Afire Love,” the sweet but sorrowful song he wrote about his grandfather, who sadly passed during the course of its creation.

       Sheeran ended things with his early hit “The A-Team” and “Give Me Love” and encored with “You Need Me, I Don’t Need You” until bringing the set to a close with “Sing” as Sheeran waved, smiling, and quietly slipped offstage into the night.

      

       John Fogerty

       1969 Tour

       Mohegan Sun

       Arena

       June 25, 2015

      

       For those of you who remember, there was a time that John Fogerty would not go anywhere near the hits of Credence Clearwater Revival (CCR). Now it seems there has been a reckoning with those old demons. The 1969 Tour, apply named for the three top-10 albums that spawned several now-classic hit singles that CCR unleashed that epic year, opened with a capsuled video of some of the band’s 1969 moments.

       Fogerty kicked off the set with “Born on the Bayou,”trailed with “Travelin’ Band” and “Up Around the Bend.”

       Never much of a raconteur, Fogerty opened up quite a bit at the Sun, perhaps due to his age, 70, and to his life memoir, My Life, My Music, coming in October of this year. He quipped about having to follow the Grateful Dead at Woodstock and playing to a mostly sleeping, mud-covered, naked crowd, which he then stated inspired “Who’ll Stop the Rain.”

       With an arsenal of guitars, Fogerty showed he was still a force to be reckoned with by burning through solos on “Lodi” and “Heard it Through the Grapevine.” “Keep on Chooglin” was a show highlight that showcased Fogerty’s son, Shane, on lead guitar.

       Fogerty changed course briefly on the piano for a quick turn on covers of Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Whole Lotta Shakin’” and Johnny Rivers’ “Rockin’ Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu,” before turning to his own “Long As I Can See the Light.”

       Perhaps not wanting to make it all about the CCR years, Fogerty brought to light “Centerfield” and “Old Man Down the Road” from his solo 1980’s catalog. The hits were almost complete, with the exceptionally missing “Suzy Q,”which is arguably the cut that put CCR on the map.

       The set closed after a little more than two hours with the forceful “Fortunate Sun” followed by the encore’s “Bad Moon Rising” and “Proud Mary.”

       There were some unnecessary concert trappings, like confetti drops and pyrotechnics. There’s really no need for that with this iconic musician--Fogerty’s hard working, deep-rooted rock music stands fine on its own. This could have easily gone down as nothing more than a cruise down nostalgia lane but, on the contrary, these songs portray a message that sadly still resonates 45 years later, causing me to quietly bow my head in contrition. Politics aside, this was a rock and roll show at its purist.
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