The Doobie Brothers Celebrate 50 Years of Rocking Down the Highway
The Doobie Brothers have been on the road for half a century, and they show no signs of slowing down. The legendary rock band, inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2020, brought their 50th anniversary tour to a sold out venue at The Rose Music Center in Huber Heights, Ohio on June 27, 2023, and delivered a hit-packed show that spanned their diverse and enduring catalog. The 2 hour and 18 minute performance was a powerhouse tour de force of one of the most prolific and enduring bands in history.
The band’s current lineup features founding members Pat Simmons and John McFee on guitars and vocals, along with longtime keyboardist and vocalist Michael McDonald, who rejoined the group in the last few years, but for a generation, he was the voice of the Doobies. Unfortunately, another founding member, Tom Johnston, had to sit out this leg of the tour due to back surgery, but his presence was felt through his songs and his spirit. Filling in for the missing Tom Johnston, the heavy lifting was done by Michael McDonald, who rejoined the band in 2021 after a 25-year hiatus. McDonald sang some of his signature songs with the Doobies, such as “Real Love”, “Minute by Minute” and “What a Fool Believes”, as well as some of his solo hits, such as “I Keep Forgettin’.” His voice was still powerful and soulful, blending perfectly with the harmonies of Simmons. The fans gave him a warm welcome and cheered loudly for his every note.
The Doobies opened with “Take me in your arms and Rock Me”, a fitting anthem for their journey through the decades. The crowd of loyal fans sang along to every word, as the band displayed their tight musicianship and harmonies. The setlist included classics from their early days as a boogie-rock outfit (“Long Train Runnin'”, “China Grove”, “Jesus Is Just Alright”), as well as their later hits from their blue-eyed soul era (“Takin’ It to the Streets”, “What a Fool Believes”, “Minute by Minute”). There’s usually a little song that preludes into “Takin’ It to the Streets”, and this one highlighted Mark Russo’s incredible talent on the Saxophone, where he did Paul Simon’s “Still Crazy after all These Years”, before the boys broke into Takin’ it to the Streets.
In Tom’s absence, most of the addressing of the audience was done by Pat Simmons, who told the fans that “You’re gonna hear some classic songs of ours, and some classic songs of others that we’re sure you’ll recognize.
One was the Carly Simon song from her “Boys in the Trees” album called “You Belong to Me”, which was co-written by Michael McDonald, who sang the vocals.
One highlight of the night was when Simmons dedicated “Black Water” to Johnston, who wrote and sang the song that became the band’s first number one single in 1974. Simmons led the audience in a sing-along of the chorus, as images of Johnston flashed on the screen behind him. It was a touching moment that showed the bond between the bandmates and their fans.
Of special note was the over the top work of Mark Russo on Sax, who was much more prevalent than on past concerts.
The Doobie Brothers closed the show with an encore of a Steely Dan song, “Pretzel Logic”, which Simmons said would give them a chance to jam. That tune that captured the band’s optimistic and infectious vibe. As they thanked the crowd for their support, they promised to be back soon with Johnston in tow. After 50 years of making music, the Doobie Brothers still have plenty of gas left in their tank. This is a must see show, if you get a chance to grab a ticket.