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Boz Scaggs Concert Review; DTE Theatre 2011

Boz Scaggs/Michael McDonald pairing brings a musical time capsule to DTE

Gary Graff / Journal Register Newspapers
July 28, 2011

INDEPENDENCE TWP. — Amidst the rain, thunder and a little bit of lightning, a small but exuberant crowd partied like it was 1978 — or so — Wednesday night (July 27) at the DTE Energy Music Theatre.

The soundtrack was provided by Boz Scaggs and Michael McDonald, two veterans who have long straddled the pop/rock/R&B divides with smooth musicianship, tight arrangements and enough hooks to catch half the carp in the Detroit River. Each has a Grammy Award-winning track record of hits, and on Wednesday, as the duo closed its summer tour, nobody at DTE minded that at this point those favorites came three decades ago. Or more.

McDonald, whose voice is as gutbucket and emotive as Scaggs' is rich and silky, opened the night with 75 minutes drawn mostly from his days with the Doobie Brothers — including the show starters "You Belong to Me" and "It Keeps You Runnin' " along with "Minute By Minute," "What a Fool Believes" and "Takin' It to the Streets" — and, appropriately, from his two Motown covers albums. Fronting Scaggs' band, the singer, songwriter and pianist tucked into staples such as Marvin Gaye’s "I Heard It Through the Grapevine," Stevie Wonder's "Living For the City" and the Gaye-Tammi Terrell duets "Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing" and "Ain’t No Mountain High Enough," all of which were appreciated in Motown’s birthplace.

And a selection of post-Doobies solo hits from the 80s — "Sweet Freedom," "I Keep Forgettin' (Every Time You're Near)," "Yah Mo B There" — only underscored how much popular, and enduring, music McDonald has crafted during his career.

Scaggs, meanwhile, devoted a good chunk of his 12-song set to his multiplatinum "Silk Degrees" album, which turns 35 this year, playing half of its 10 songs including the show-opening "What Can I Say," "Georgia," "Harbor Lights," the Grammy-winning "Lowdown" and "Lido Shuffle." He continued to mine the 70s for hits such as "JoJo, "Miss Sun," "Breakdown Dead Ahead" and "Look What You've Done to Me," though he also pulled out "Thanks To You" from his 2001 album "Dig" and really lit things up with his New Orleans-flavored "Sick & Tired."

Scaggs and McDonald joined forces for the encores, making up for an overdone version of Leonard Cohen’s "Hallelujah" with spirited romps through Joe Simon’s "Drowning in a Sea of Love," Chuck Berry's "You Never Can Tell" and the Impressions, "It's All Right." And, given that they used the same band, it made you wish the entire evening had been more collaborative, perhaps alternating performances and playing a few more things together rather than the more conventional and individual approach.

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