April 25, 2015
Review by Justin Press
Photos by Justin Press
The Doobie Brothers
An Evening of Seventies Rock Perfection: Songs That Broke The Bank
45 years is a long time in any career be it banking, real estate, military, you name it, but to survive and thrive in the "foot on your throat" world of rock and roll, it's a miracle and a testament to the enduring nature of master-crafted songs. For all the bombast, flash, infamy, it always comes back to the songs and not many were as big as the Doobie Brothers during their reign, except for maybe their special guest, guitarist Don Felder, former virtuoso of Eagles. Along with Bernie Leadon and then Joe Walsh, his playing was instrumental to the tune of 150M albums sold... and then some.
Before a crowd of roughly 2500, the Doobies and Felder fed their fans 3 hours of jukebox and AOR favorites with hardly a dry seat in the house. Felder, the 67-year old guitar and tone genius behind a great many of his former bands' hits actually looks just North of 50. Complimented by his 4-piece backing band who've served time with Whitesnake, Ringo Starr and Mick Jagger to name a few, Felder dished out an hour's worth of some of the Eagles greatness along with two gems of his own doing including the stellar 1981 track "Heavy Metal (Takin' A Ride) from the Heavy Metal soundtrack.
"Already Gone" and "One Of These Nights" started the proceedings with Felder switching from Les Paul to Stratocaster to SG fluidly. "Victim of Love" and "Those Shoes," two barnburners as far as Eagles are concerned with his thick-chorded hiccups chopping thru the auditorium. As for as his vocals, there is a reason Henley and Frey chose him besides his playing, his smooth California desert melody is eerily similar to his former drummer's. So his ability to carry the vocal load of the tracks was unquestioned, he played to his strengths
"Tequila Sunrise," "Witchy Woman" and the choral magnificence of "Seven Bridges Road" were pure aural fodder with not a note fumbled. He closed shop with the trifecta of "The Long Run" (which had the crowd dancing... that was a challenge), the cocaine guitar of "Life In The Fast Lane" and the double necked wonder of "Hotel California" complete with duel soloing ala Felder/ Walsh circa 1978. His set was a voyage thru a catalog that has sold the world ten times over. His playing was so damn tasteful that the memories of peeling off the plastic off of the HC vinyl seemed to be "just right there."
The Doobie Brothers were certainly going to be challenged to follow Felder's legendary set, but they were up to the task. Led by founders Pat Simmons and Tom Johnston along with longtime 3rd guitar player John McFee, the 8-piece was tight as a drum from the onset of "Jesus Is Just Alright" with its post-Haight Ashbury flourish and Northern California spirit. Johnston along with Simmons's interplay is at its zenith currently with the 66-year olds still robust and Johnston especially showing a real zest for performing: part biker, part rebel rouser with the voice of a dark angel.
"Rockin' Down The Highway" an homage to the MC clubs of their home turf while "Neal's Fandango" from the album Stampede is neck and neck with the Allmans on how to jam a track. For the astute listener of classic rock, "Eyes of Silver" was a real B-side treat custom made for rolling joints and discussing the fluid in a lava lamp. Plus that funky mid-section is pure WAR on steroids. Hindered by the fact that sans Michael McDonald, you get none of their late 70's to early 80's mega hits but we did get 'Takin' It To the Streets," a song so appropriate and relevant to today's vigilante protests though it is nearly 40 years old. Lesser known tracks like 'World Gone Crazy" and 'Dependin' On You" were far from fillers as they were interlaced with multiple solos and sax playing right out of the jazz fusion height of the 70's but it's the meat and potatoes that the crowd came to chow on.
"Black Water," "Long Train Runnin," the chugging "China Grove" and the closer "Listen To The Music" that had the mid-lifers celebrating their salad days once again if only for an evening. "Black Water" personally was a highlight because when I was a kid I used to play it alongside Queen's "Killer Queen" for hours on end. I had no clue that it would still be with me 42 years later. The power of music is the damndest thing.