Michael McDonald was a struggling young musician when the Doobie Brothers plucked him off the LA streets and thrust him into rock stardom. McDonald didn’t let the Brothers down, fronting some of the band’s greatest hits and irrevocably tying his exceptional vocals to the Doobie legacy. Perhaps not as well known but just as important, McDonald has released records in his own right and backed up some of the most important records in modern rock and soul. Fittingly, he brought all that history to a sold-out show in New York City.
Backed by an all-star band including saxophonist Eric Crystal and guitarist Tommy Sims (writer of “Change the World,” an encore song), McDonald played keyboard and graciously traded solos and credits with his fellow band members. The uncontested star, though, was McDonald’s vocals, which he showed off in a well-paced two-hour show. Starting slow and steady with soul, the repertoire built to “What a Fool Believes,” which had the house on its collective feet. For an encore, the penultimate number paid homage to Stevie Wonder, with a medley of his incomparable hits. In a particularly apt choice, McDonald dedicated his final tune to military, police and fire personnel, “those who put their lives at risk for us,” and gave us all the rousing “Takin’ It to the Streets”—not only McDonald’s first hit with the Doobies, but also great struttin’ music to take with us as we all hit the street.
– Suzanne Cadgène