Boston With the Doobie Brothers Allen Event Center Wednesday, June 18, 2014
You know the summer has officially started once the oldies package tours make their way through town, or in this case, the suburb of Allen.
But last night was a bit different as two legendary acts from the '70s created two entirely different musical experiences and both of them (for the most part) worked fairly well. The Doobie Brothers mixed folk and rock into an inspired hour of well received memories while Boston held auditions for an upcoming Broadway musical.
For a band named in honor of a blunt, the Doobie Brothers are now an extremely family friendly act. Throughout the band's tight and energetic 12-song set, Patrick Simmons and the rest of the Doobie Brothers engaged the sold-out audience without a curse word or any reference to drugs. Instead, it was hit after hit with a few deep cuts mingled in for the hardcore faithful.
And those hits sounded just fine. "Jesus Is Just Alright," "Long Train Runnin'," "China Grove," "Listen to the Music," "South City Midnight Lady" and "Black Water" all sounded as if the band was still in its '70s heyday. Although the band contains only two original members, both Simmons and Tom Johnson are the backbone of the Doobie Brothers experience. Those two started the band way back in 1970 and they still are the focal points today. Judging by the fiery guitar work that both men exhibited last night, the Doobie Brothers are a long way from being done.
Of special note was the performance of "Takin' it to the Streets," a song that originally featured singer Michael McDonald. Of course, McDonald has not worked with the band for many years, so on this night, Simmons and bassist John Cowan did a remarkable job reworking the song to fit their own singing styles.
The crowd ate it up, singing along and dancing to each and every song, even relative obscurities like "World Gone Crazy" and "Eyes Like Silver." Indeed, the audience was a highlight the entire evening as folks in their 40s, 50s and 60s reveled in the music of their high school years and matched the energy of the Doobie Brothers note for note.
Boston's set was a bit more problematic. Since guitarist Tom Scholz is the only original member of the band, Boston's performance, while technically brilliant, felt like a Broadway show.
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With relatively new members dressed in '70s and '80s attire, there was a cinematic feel to the show that had me feeling like I was in The Matrix. Sure, singer Tommy DeCarlo could hit those high notes just like original vocalist Brad Delp did back in the mid '70s, but DeCarlo's stage presence was lackluster to say the least. And why the hell did Boston have FOUR guitar players? It's not like Scholz's songs are incredibly complicated. This is basic bar band fodder with lots of references to rock and roll and playing in a rock and roll band and feeling satisfied with rock and roll and having piece of mind with your rock and roll.
I had almost forgotten how mind-numbing Boston's music could be: technically amazing, but filled with cliché and rudimentary emotion. But the crowd was there to relive high school memories and the band delivered such in spades. Scholz, looking like the twin brother of Dave Grohl, hit every note with style and pounded out those power chords like his life depended on it.
Not a hit was missed. "More Than a Feeling," "Don't Look Back," "Amanda" and "Peace of Mind" were just a few of the songs that sounded perfect and enthralled the crowd from start to finish.
Walking away from the Allen Events Center, I felt like I had seen Boston: The Broadway Musical -- an equivalent of a great rock show, a still potent shadow of what came before, but an echo of significance.