The Doobie Brothers
June 6, 2015
Los Angeles, CA
Review by Junkman
Photos by Ron Lyon
On a lovely June evening in the Hollywood Hills, we all gathered together to "Listen To The Music," have some wine and song, and maybe recapture some of the memories of our distant collective pasts. This was exactly what happened at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles as the Doobie Brothers returned to town along with special guests for an evening with so many classic rock hits, that you lost count how many they had between the acts and where you were when you first heard them.
At 7 PM, opener Pat Simmons Jr. (yes, the son of the Doobie Brothers guitarist) hit the stage, armed with only a guitar and a floppy hat. He proceeded to strum and sing songs for the next 25 minutes or so that were quite folksy and contained environmental messages. He also played the ukulele on a few numbers as the crowd started to fill the seats. For his last number, his father joined him and they sang a duet of the old America chestnut "Ventura Highway," which brought a nice applause.
Former Eagles Guitarist Don Felder was up next and he was terrific. His 14-song set was made up almost entirely of material from his former band’s catalog — from the opening "Already Gone" from the Eagles’ 1974 On The Border album, through material from later Eagles records, including the title tracks from One Of These Nights and The Long Run. He even played a couple of the Eagles earliest hits, "Witchy Woman" and "Tequila Sunrise," giving humorous intros to each, and playfully mispronouncing his former band’s name — “The Beagles” — just to keep the vibe light and fun.
Don Felder's band, featuring guitarist Ben Mauro, bassist and vocalist Shem Von Shroeck, drummer Steve DiStanislao, and former Eagles and Whitesnake keyboardist Timothy Drury, was superb. They absolutely nailed every song, and along with Felder’s great vocals, of which he wasn't exactly famous for when he was in the Eagles, made it a very enjoyable show.
His solo career was represented by a couple of songs” "You Don't Have Me" from his 2012 release Road To Forever, and "Heavy Metal (Takin' A Ride) " from the 1981 animated film soundtrack. But Eagles songs were the flavor for tonight, and after a rousing, hand-clapping, crowd sing-along "Heartache Tonight," Felder donned (see what I did there?) his famous Gibson double-neck guitar and, joined by Doobie Brothers guitarist and multi-instrumentalist John McFee, ended his 70-minute set with a wonderful version of the Eagles classic, "Hotel California." The Greek Theatre erupting into a huge applause as it reached its crescendo.
At a little after 9:00, the Doobie Brothers hit the stage with the rousing "Jesus Is Just Alright" and the party was on! Original Doobie members Tom Johnston and Patrick Simmons, both on guitar and vocals, led the charge through a career-spanning cavalcade of hits.
The Greek Theatre crowd was ready and willing to sing along, and they did on the opening number and all the up-tempo songs like "Rockin' Down The Highway" and "Takin' It To The Streets," which featured terrific vocals from bassist John Cowan and Simmons, sharing duty on a song originally sung by former Doobie Michael McDonald.
The middle section of the set was dedicated to the instrumentally showcase songs such as "Neal’s Fandango," "Spirit" and my favorite Doobies number, "South City Midnight Lady" from 1973, which featured acoustic guitar and Simmons’ sweet, soulful vocals. The rest of the band, featuring drummers Ed Toth and Tony Pia, keyboardist Guy Allison, sax player supreme Marc Russo, as well as the afore mentioned Cowan and McFee, picked up the pace for the home stretch, with their take on the old Sonny Boy Williamson song "Don't Start Me Talkin’," that got everyone's toes tappin', especially the band’s.
The mega hits "Black Water." featuring the talents of McFee on violin, got the Greek crowd singing at their loudest point of the evening, and then really thrilled them with ""Long Train Runnin’" and "China Grove," also from the 1973 The Captain And Me LP.Encoring with their biggest hit "Listen To The Music," featuring Pat Simmons Jr. on guitar and Tom Johnson's daughter Lara on background vocals, the crowd was once again united in song. People danced, sang, kissed and hugged. Just a good feeling and great vibe to have on a Saturday night. The Doobie Brothers’ music is timeless, and harkens back to a time when things were a lot simpler. I spied plenty of folks in the crowd that looked like 1974 was still here, and as long as the Doobies are touring, there is no reason to think any other way.