Never Pass Up Doobies [REVIEW and PICS]
That headline is a fun double entendre, but the only DOOBIES I’ve been thinking about this summer are the Doobie BROTHERS. On Sunday, August 22nd, the iconic classic rock band was FINALLY able to kick-off it’s looooong-anticipated 50th Anniversary Concert Tour at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines. This was the opening night of the tour that was SUPPOSED to happen during covid-screwed 2020.
I’ve seen the Doobies at least 5 times, twice at the Sioux Empire Fair, once in St. Paul warming up for Steely Dan and once in Brookings. But the sound and feel of THIS Doobies concert was completely fulfilling, mainly because it featured the reunion with Doobie “SOUL” Brother, Michael McDonald, who hadn’t toured with his Doobie Brethren in over 25 years. The band cranked out an incredible 29-song setlist of hits and deep-cuts over a nearly two-and-a-half-hour ‘70s and ’80 rock jam session.
Check out the Doobie Brothers’ August 22, 2021, Iowa State Fair concert Set List.
It’s believed 2 songs sung by Michael McDonald hadn’t been played live in concert for 29 years, “You Belong to Me” and “Real Love”. The song “Here to Love You” hadn’t been played live since the release of the “Minute by Minute” album in 1978. ALL were well worth the wait and kept me wanting MORE!
*Begin Michael McDonald Gushing Here*
I have so-called “friends” who plug their ears and make sourpuss faces when I bring up Big Mike. Rock-n-roll debates are fun, but I get feisty about this one. And I AM RIGHT! When Michael takes his turn at lead vocals, it’s an explosion of haunting soul. Imagine the love child of Joe Cocker and Aretha Franklin. THAT’S Michael McDonald. To top it off, I understand he’s a humble gentleman. Seriously, MIKE is the reason I’ve made 3 attempts to catch this tour. It was SUCH a treat and honor to finally witness the genius of the silver-haired, soul-singing sasquatch as he gyrated, belting out the passion-filled lyrics of “Takin’ it to the Streets” and “Minute by Minute”. Hammering on his Yamaha keyboard, pluckin’ the stings of his mandolin, or squeezin’ his concertina. What a beautiful man, giving the people what they came for, working his craft, STILL at the top of his game.
*Michael McDonald Gushing Ends Here*
Don’t get me wrong, I love and respect the work of Tom Johnston and Patrick Simmons, founders of the Doobie Brothers. Tom is a sassy rocker who loves the blues and is a brilliant songwriter. Watch the video for “Long Train Runnin” sometimes. Pat is the group’s spokesman and resident “old hippie” who still makes his guitar scream, yet tenderly sings one of my favorite Doobies’ ballads, “South City Midnight Lady”. Pat and Tom are the glue who’ve kept the Doobs together for over 50 years.
This flow of the show was, at times, clunky. Awkward pauses between songs. A couple of mid-song technical problems with Patrick’s guitar. Once he wasn’t sure which song they were playing next. Spotlights finally switching on halfway through a Doobie’s solo. Just a few kinks that’ll get worked out for the rest of the tour. The band ALSO went a bit alternative, playing a song or 2 from their new album, and a couple of waaaaay-deep cuts from older albums. SO happy they played a song called “Without You”….the very last track on side B of the “Best of the Doobies” album…which EVERY Doobie Boomer owned. What a rocker! They lost the crowd a couple of times, but all it took was playing one hit to bring us back.
The Iowa State Fair Grandstand is IMPRESSIVE, comfortably seating 14,500. I’m guessing 12,000 were at this show. Country’s Chris Stapleton played a few nights earlier to a crowd of 17,000, some of whom bought standing room tickets. The night sky was star-lit with no wind and perfect temperature. The delicious sound coming from the massive wall of stadium speakers pleased my ears and tickled my rib cage. Now THAT’S rock-n-roll!
My love affair with the Doobie Brothers began in 1972, long before Michael McDonald joined the band. I was 10 years old when I experienced the defining rock-n-roll awareness moment of my life. I was listening to my Montgomery Ward “Airline” transistor radio (on the toilet), through a single white earphone (so Mom and Dad didn’t know what I was up to). I would roll up and down the dial between 2 Sioux Falls music AM stations (FM was still just an experiment). I stopped turning in to LISTEN TO THE station I felt was playing the best MUSIC. That was a hint… The song? “Listen to the Music”, by The Doobie Brothers, Tom Johnston on lead vocals. It was the most beautiful sound I’d ever heard as an impressionable youngster. I was rock-n-roll’s newest convert, that day, and hooked on the DOOBIE….Brothers for life!
My advice for classic rock fans? Catch this Doobie Brothers 50th Anniversary Concert Tour when it comes near YOUR town!
From friend and guest writer Scott Smith, Townsquare Media
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