“I know you know the words to this song; we love the words to this song because it’s more timely and relevant right now than it’s ever been… It was relevant in the 60’s when it was written but it seems to have grown only more relevant with the years. This song, if people sing along with us and sing it loud, maybe the rest of that world out there will hear what we’re saying tonight…” Michael McDonald at the Crest Theatre in Sacramento on Tuesday night, in preface to his encore beginning with a soulful cover of Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On”. It was quite a night for fans of one of the great voices of his generation, as he played hits from his solo career as well as works he created with the Doobie Brothers. Special with his most recent tours is the showcase of several songs from his latest album, Wide Open, which was released in late 2017. His first studio album of all-new material in 17 years, it’s really a brilliant work and the songs are even more remarkable live in concert. If you have seen Michael McDonald in concert in the past, it is well worth turning out for this current tour just to hear some of the new songs. Fantastic show.
Who: Michael McDonald
Venue: Crest Theatre
Promoter: SBL Entertainment
When: July 10, 2018
Seating: Section Floor Center, Row C, Seat 101 & 102 (second row center section on floor plus photo pass)
The stop in Sacramento on these early days of this 2018 tour was at the Crest Theatre in Sacramento, which remains an excellent venue. Historic and with a lot of charm, it still serves as a great venue for live music performances, offering great sound and lighting in a relatively intimate atmosphere.
Jet is a singer songwriter that performed an opening acoustic set. I apologize as I could not find any additional details about her online, but I really enjoyed her set and music.
- Hey Friend
- I Had A Dream
- New Day
Below are some photos of Jet performing on stage (scroll downward and photos will begin to appear – click any image to open a virtual lightroom with higher resolution versions of each photo):
- Michael McDonald (vocals, piano/keyboards, rhythm guitar)
- Bernie Chiaravalle (lead guitar, backing vocals)
- Drea Rhenee’ (vocals, backing vocals)
- Mark Douthit (saxophone)
- Dan Needham (drums)
- Jacob Lowery (bass, backing vocals)
- Pat Coil (keyboards)
Michael McDonald is so well-known an introduction is not really necessary.
Most famously was his time in transforming the Doobie Brothers after joining them initially as a replacement singer, and subsequently taking them into a totally different style of music. He also performed with Steely Dan and has participated in countless collaborations with top artists like Kenny Loggins, Patti LaBelle, Aretha Franklin, Toto, Van Halen, Thundercat and more, and he has won five Grammy Awards across his career.
I recently watched a now very dated Behind The Music about the Doobie Brothers and it was quite fascinating learning about how all of that unfolded – Michael McDonald has so much talent and has led such an incredible life in music.
Yet through all of that, he seems to have stayed very grounded and humble. And watching him on stage for this concert, even now 45 years into his career, he obviously loves to perform and loves to collaborate with other artists on stage.
Different styles of music come and go, and Michael McDonald has seemingly carved out his own genre. If you are a subscriber of Sirius XM, you might have come across a channel called Yacht Rock that is a bit tongue in cheek in-between songs, but it seems as though every third of fourth song in rotation is Michael McDonald, the Doobie Brothers, or a Michael McDonald collaboration. The theme is celebrating music that is a bit soft and sometimes with a rock push or a touch of funk or R&B stylings.
The new music from Wide Open showcases Michael McDonald going in a different direction, with songs that unfold in more of a slow burn, with a bit more of a live jam vibe. Maybe more old school rock and roll and less pop than those familiar with 80s era work might be expecting.
In terms of the live show, Michael McDonald spent most of the show behind his piano and keyboard stage right, save for a a trio of new songs toward the end of the set in which he moved to center mic and played rhythm guitar (for “Hail Mary”, “Beautiful Child” and “Half Truth”).
Joining him on stage was his stellar band. Bernie Chiaravalle on guitar was amazing while making it all look so effortless. Drea Rhenee’ was incredible, especially the duet on their rendition of Patti LaBelle’s “On My Own” and the aforementioned cover of “What’s Going On”.
It’s hard to imagine so many of Michael McDonald’s songs sans sax, and Mark Douhit filled in that role brilliantly. Dan Needham on drums and Jacob Lowery on bass created the all important beats and low end while Pat Coil contributed on keyboards as well.
At age 66, Michael McDonald’s voice has somehow gotten only better over the years. And listening to the studio versions of the new songs, there is a new quality to the tone of his voice that fits the new direction of the music beautifully.
The sequence of the setlist was well thought out, opening with three familiar hits before transitioning into some of the new music.
- Yah Mo B There (James Ingram cover)
- Here to Love You (The Doobie Brothers song)
- I Keep Forgettin’
- Find It in Your Heart
- Just Strong Enough
- I Can Let Go Now
- Sweet Freedom
- On My Own (Patti LaBelle cover)
- Hail Mary
- Beautiful Child
- Half Truth
- Minute by Minute (The Doobie Brothers song)
- What a Fool Believes (Kenny Loggins cover)
- What’s Going On (Marvin Gaye cover)
- Takin’ It to the Streets (The Doobie Brothers song)
All in all, it was an amazing show – the kind of show that plants the idea to keep an eye open for the next opportunity to experience it all again in the future.
Below are some photos of Michael McDonald performing on stage (scroll downward and photos will begin to appear – click any image to open a virtual lightroom with higher resolution versions of each photo):