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Review and photos by Mary AndrewsWhen Michael McDonald started to sing the first song, it was apparent that the packed house at the Fox Theatre was filled with "his people." The mature crowd was standing and clapping to the opening Doobie Brothers tune "Freedom Highway." This was going to be a great night of soulful soft rock.
After a short break, Michael McDonald took the stage and the energy was at high level. Credit goes to his band for this immediate energetic push. The band is one of the best in the music business. Michael's voice is also one of the most distinctive in the music and it has not lost its edge. Early in the set, Michael introduced each member of the band and each member has an impressive resume of his or her own.
Guitarist Bernie Chiaravalle has been a songwriting collaborator with McDonald for many years. He bears a resemblance to Carlos Santana and played guitar with unmistakably similar Santana skills.
Jake Lowery has been playing bass since he was 15 years old. Since 2008, he has worked with many artists, played on countless sessions and produced several singles and albums for various artists.
Dan Needham on drums is also a music producer in Nashville. He has played with artists such as Vanessa Williams, Amy Grant, KT Oslin, as well as Michael McDonald.
Keyboardist, Pat Coil has played with Michael for many years. Pat is well known as an accomplished pianist, composer, producer and arranger. He is currently an Associate Professor of Jazz Studies at the University of North Texas.
Jazz sax man, Mark Douthit, has recorded and toured with Lionel Ritchie, Garth Brooks, Billy Joel, Toto, Keith Urban, Toni Braxton, and the list goes on for paragraphs. He has worked on movie and television soundtracks. His smooth jazz saxophone blended beautifully with Michael's band.
Conesha Owens (aka "Ms. Monét") provided backing vocals as well as some lead vocals during the show. She seemed to be very familiar and then it became very evident that she had played the Fox Theatre within the last year with Boz Scaggs. She is blessed with a five octave vocal range and she gave a sample of that amazing range during the set. The songs "Ain't No Love" and "On My Own" proved Ms. Monet's vocal prowess! Move over Patti LaBelle, there is a new vocal queen in town!
The set was a wonderful balance of Doobie Brothers' hits and Michael's solo hits. McDonald's keyboards as well as his vocals were as clear and as polished as his original recordings. The acoustics and sound were stellar as usual at the Fox Theatre.
Highlights from the set included the cover of Eddie Arnold and Ray Charles' "You Don't Know Me." There were some offerings from McDonald's Motown albums. Not surprisingly, the audience seemed to respond most enthusiastically to the Doobie's hit songs. There was a three-song encore that clocked-in the show at approximately 75 minutes.
1. Freedom Highway
2. Here to Love You (The Doobie Brothers song)
3. Sweet Freedom
4. It Keeps You Runnin' (The Doobie Brothers song)
5. I Keep Forgettin'
6. I Heard It Through The Grapevine > (Marvin Gaye cover)
7. Hurt Me
8. Obsession Blues
9. You Don't Know Me (Eddy Arnold cover)
10. Ain't No Love
11. Minute by Minute (The Doobie Brothers song)
12. This Is It (Kenny Loggins cover)
13. What a Fool Believes (Kenny Loggins cover)
14. On My Own (Patti LaBelle cover)
15. Yah Mo B There (James Ingram cover)
16. Takin' It to the Streets (The Doobie Brothers song)
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