Classic rock fans found heaven on earth Wednesday night at the Allen Event Center as The Doobie Brothers and Boston delivered exhilarating performances that more than lived up to the bands iconic images.
The Doobie Brothers kicked off the sold-out show with their electric mix of rock ‘n’ roll, rhythm and blues, funk, and country. Comprised of two drummers, three vocalists/guitarists, a bass player, piano player, and a saxophone player, The Doobie Brothers easily combined their mass of talent and turned in an incredibly tight performance that quickly had fans on their feet and dancing.
Singer/guitarist Tom Johnston’s intensity and energy on stage were almost Springsteen-esque. All that was missing was a huge piano for him to jump on. Together with Pat Simmons and John McFee, the three shared vocal duties, harmonies and guitar solos throughout the night. Opening with “Jesus is Just Alright” and “Rockin’ Down the Highway,” the band then tore into “Take Me in Your Arms (Rock Me),” featuring a lively saxophone solo by Marc Russo.
Following one of the band’s more recent tunes, “World Gone Crazy,” McFee took a seat to play pedal steel guitar on two songs including “Neal’s Fandango” which featured a rousing instrumental jam session that resulted in a standing ovation. Fans also enjoyed Simmons’ lead vocals on “Takin’ It to the Streets,” the band’s monster hit from 1976.
Simmons’ son, Pat Jr., showed off his own musical talents earlier in the evening with a crowd pleasing opening set. Wearing shorts, flip-flops and a “Grow Something” t-shirt, the budding artist played a brief four song acoustic set. Father joined son on stage for the closing number, a cover of America’s “Ventura Highway.”
As The Doobie Brothers finished their set with “China Grove” and “Listen to the Music,” fans were drowning out the band’s vocals with their own, cutting loose and dancing in the aisles.
While The Doobie Brothers performance was tight, Boston’s show was slick and very dynamic. Their stage was designed as the inside of a spaceship with three video monitors serving as windows. Stacks of speakers and racks of electrical equipment with multi-colored lights lined the back of the stage. Fans were ready for blast off with the very first number, “Rock and Roll Band.”
Surprisingly, the only remaining member of the band, Tom Scholz, positioned himself towards the back of the stage, alternating between guitar and keyboards. His impressively assembled bandmates including Tommy DeCarlo (vocals), David Victor (guitar/vocals) and Kimberly Dahme (guitars/vocals) took up positions on the front of the stage. With the exuberance of the three and Scholz with his mop-top kid haircut, it felt at times like we were watching Boston in their early pre-fame days.
DeCarlo, who just a few years ago was working at Home Depot, did an impressive job with lead vocals. Victor, who earned his stripes playing in Boston cover bands, took over vocal duties on “Amanda” and “Walk On.” Dahme provided a sultry introduction to “Cool the Engines,” and later heated things back up with Victor on “Walk On.”
Credit Scholz for not making fans wait to hear the hits. All the big songs including “Don’t Look Back, “More Than a Feeling,” and “Feelin’ Satisfied” were played early on in the set. The most powerful and impressive song, however, was a ten-minute plus jam version of “Walk On.” The song featured Scholz again on the organ, dueling it out at times with bassist Tracy Ferrie. Fans got a close-up view of the action as multiple video cameras captured Scholz’s rapid finger work. Not surprisingly, the songs that followed were “Foreplay/Long Time”…indeed, it was a long time coming.
The ’70s may have called the Allen Event Center on Wednesday night wanting their music back, but the decade will just have to wait. Music this good is timeless. Long live rock ‘n’ roll!
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