There are lots of veteran acts from rock’s sixties/seventies heyday that have gotten embraced by today’s youth – even The Grateful Dead (QRO photos) have their younger fans. But the Doobie Brothers? With over forty years in rock ‘n’ roll, they’re hardly spring chickens. They’re associated with the country music end of seventies rock, and anything ‘country’ has always been viewed suspiciously among the college kids. Even their name is outdated slang. The hippest reference they’ve got is George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic (QRO photos) name-checking them, "Can you imagine some Doobie in your funk?" – and that’s not exactly a recent reference. But damn if the Doobie Brothers don’t still rock, like at P.C. Richard & Son Theater on Monday, November 22nd for iheartradio.com.
Most shows at PC Richard & Son Theater (QRO venue review) are relatively limited, under an hour, with the act playing only stuff from their newest/upcoming album, plus a ClearChannel-mandated cover – but The Doobie Brothers delivered more. The show started with a short interview of Tom Johnston, Patrick Simmons, and John McFee by Q104.3 Radio DJ Jonathan Clarke. "It’s kind of like at Inside The Actor’s Studio with James Lipton, only I’m not quite as sinister…" opened Clarke, who asked them what they were thinking when they started, "Have some fun, get some gigs, and then go get grown-up jobs?" "Pretty much…" replied Johnston. They talked about the new record (of course), World Gone Crazy, including co-writing one song with a fan ("From New Jersey…" Johnston added, for a cheap-but-charming applause line), but also about why the Doobie Brothers were one of the few American rock bands in the seventies who talked up their country roots, something Simmons couldn’t answer (possibly due to country’s music’s association with proto-Red State Middle America, especially in the Vietnam/post-Vietnam era – Clarke even pointed out that British bands weren’t as shy about pointing to their country influences), and more, such as Clarke himself reminiscing about the Brothers’ generosity at doing a medical fundraiser for no money or press.
But ya’ll came for the music, and Doobie Brothers didn’t just do their new stuff, kicking off their set with the seminal "China Grove". Yeah, the band had to start with an oldie, but what a goodie, an essential to any rock soundtrack of the seventies. Still, the set was mainly from World Gone Crazy, but the new songs fit in well, starting with ("Rockin’ in the") "Chateau", as well as the darker twang to "Nobody", the sad "Far From Home", and the group-rocking, wawa-laden title track. There was even "Young Man’s Game", proving that the Doobie Brothers aren’t ignorant of their age. Of course, they also did some classics, not just "China" but also "Black Water" and "Jesus Is Just Alright", and closed with a rollickin’ "Long Train Runnin’", which was a special bonus encore, something else that never happens at P.C. Richard & Son Theater.
Was the crowd old? Yes. But you didn’t have to be drinking in the VIP section with Jill Hennessy (Law & Order, Crossing Jordan; also a musician) to enjoy the show (though it didn’t hurt…). Or, as the Brothers said in "Long Train", "Whoa… Listen to the music!"
The Doobie Brothers playing "Nobody" live at PC Richard and Son Theater on November 23rd, 2010:
-photos: Chris Owyoung for iheartradio.com