The Doobie Brothers, at the South Okanagan Events Centre, Penticton, October 27, 2014 – Photos by Kirstin Wakal
Every concert has a certain feel to it. Monday night, the Doobie Brothers managed to bring a feeling of friendliness onto the stage that oozed out over the entire SOEC and infected everyone around. Back stage techs, greeters, vendors, concert goers, darn near everyone appeared to be in a fantastic mood.
From the moment Tom Johnston’s daughter, Lara Johnston, stepped onto the stage until the last note of Listen to the Music; the evening was pretty much flawless. (With the exception of a few minor technical difficulties, which were rapidly dealt with by the techs) But I digress; Lara Johnston… this girl has a great set of pipes! Her vocal range, and the passion behind it, is evident in every song she sings. Her band is tight; her stage presence is that of a seasoned performer and her tunes, especially Pity Party, had the crowd clapping, head bobbing and chair dancing.
By the time the Doobies took to the stage, the crowd was more than ready for them. Only two of the founding members remain. Not surprising since the band first formed 44 years ago. Tom Johnston on guitar, keyboard, harmonica and vocals, and Patrick Simmons on guitar, banjo, flute and vocals, still have enough of that special something that makes the Doobie Brothers who they are. This rest of the line-up consists of John McFee (guitar, dobro, pedal steel, harmonica, violin, vocals), John Cowan, (bass, vocals), Guy Allison (keyboards, backing vocals), Marc Russo (saxaphone) and Ed Toth and Tony Pia on drums.
Marc Russo and Tom Johnston
While everyone in the band was exceptional, I must say there’s just something about a saxaphone that makes a band complete. Marc Russo added that tasty morsel of beefy sax sounds that made the finished product highly appealing.
The concert itself was what one would expect from a Doobie Brothers concert. They snagged the crowd with Jesus (is Just Alright), reeled them in with Rockin’ Down the Highway and had them squarely in the palms of their seasoned musical hands by Take Me In Your Arms (Rock Me).
After that, the evening was a melding of southern rock twang and bluesy rock boogie the way only the Dobbies can do it. What stood out for this reviewer was the diversity of the instruments and the sounds that came off that stage.
Aside from the basic guitar, keyboard, and drums, there was the aforementioned sax, as well as violin (Black Water), Hawaiian style guitar (Slat Key Soquel Rag), and steel guitar (South City Midnight Lady). There could have been more, but this concertgoer was well into chair dancing by then and fully immersed into the feeling of being at a Doobie Brothers concert.
The evening ended with an encore that included China Grove and Road Angel, followed by a true wall of sound version of Listen to the Music with Lara Johnston and her band joining everyone on stage. It was, without a doubt, a night jam packed with great music and memories, and it ended all too soon.