The Doobie Brothers brought their much anticipated 50th-anniversary tour to the YouTube Theater in Inglewood, California, on Sunday, October 2nd. The show came just four days after Roxy Music brought their 50th-anniversary tour to the Forum, which is just one large parking lot away from the YouTube theater. The California “Brothers” brought their exquisite harmonies and dueling guitar jams to a nearly sold-out crowd of adoring fans filling the three tiers of the fabulous new venue with state-of-the-art sound. The smiling band members enjoyed themselves during the 26-song set, acknowledging that many of their friends were in attendance. Despite their age, the immensely talented musicians had no problem performing the nearly three-hour non-stop set.
A longtime member of the band, singer, and keyboardist Michael McDonald opened the show with piano improvisation. Founding members, including singer and guitarist Patrick Simmons and singer-guitarist Tom Johnston, then sauntered onstage to a standing ovation. They were quickly joined by longtime band member John McFee, a talented singer, guitarist, and multi-instrumentalist. The band’s more recent members then appeared on stage, including saxophonist Marc Russo, drummer Ed Toth, percussionist Marc Quiñones and bassist and backing vocalist John Cowan.
The group opened with one of their oldest songs, “Nobody," from their 1971 debut album. Johnston took on lead vocal duties for the first song, with Simmons and McFee backing him up on acoustic guitars and McDonald on piano. The rest of the band joined in and picked up the pace on the second tune, “Take Me In Your Arms (Rock Me A Little While).” The song was a big hit for The Doobie Brothers in 1975, but it was a actually a cover. The original was first recorded by soul singer Kim Weston in 1965.
The mood switched on the following song, “Here To Love You,” from the 1978 album, Minute By Minute, as McDonald took over lead vocal duties. His soulfully funky voice and his honky tonk piano skills took the band in a new direction. From there, the triple guitar-driven sound of Johnston, Simmons, and McFee took over on songs like “After “Dependin’ On You” and “Rockin’ Down The Highway.” Later McFee showcased his diverse musical skills on the tune “South City Midnight Lady," playing mean pedal steel guitar.
The band would vacillate between the more guitar-driven rock tunes back towards the funky tunes that McDonald made famous with the band in the 70s. He led the way on songs like “You Belong To Me” and “What a Fool Believes.” On the tune “It Keeps You Runnin'," McDonald traded licks with saxophonist Russo in a jazz-infused dance-inducing jam.
Towards the end of the set, the band led the audience in a sing-along during a rendition of their early guitar-driven hit “Jesus Is Just Alright.” The end of the set also included other well-known hits like “What a Fool Believes,” “Long Train Runnin'," and “China Grove.” By this time, most of the audience was dancing and singing along.
The four-song encore began with the swamp-drenched bluesy tune “Black Water” with Simmons on 12-string acoustic guitar and lead vocals and McFee playing a haunting violin. The beautiful vocal harmonies were reminiscent of the Crosby Stills, Nash, and Young era. That was followed by another McDonald and Russo jazz improvisation. The band finished with two of their biggest hits, “Takin It to the Streets” and “Listen To The Music," while a euphoric crowd danced and sang through the aisles and balconies.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees, four-time Grammy winners, and a band that has sold over 40 million records proved that despite their seniority, the group can still perform a nearly three-hour set with masterful musicianship and exquisite harmonies. Southern Californians still wishing to see The Doobie Brother's 50th-anniversary tour will have another chance when the band returns to the area on December 15th to play at the new Acrisure Arena in Palm Springs.