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Boz Scaggs Concert Review - The Trib 2011

Scaggs, McDonald strut their crowd-pleasing stuff
 
By Rick Nowlin, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
July 18, 2011
 
The billing suggested a night of "blue-eyed soul" on Saturday at the Trib Amphitheatre. But it turned out that Boz Scaggs and Michael McDonald, each known for a gaggle of hit songs during the late 1970s and early 1980s, had a few tricks up their sleeve, with forays into blues, N'Awlins and, yes, even church.
 
It all worked and, judging from the reaction, pleased the audience as well.
 
You can always expect to hear a lot of old Doobie Brothers material from Mr. McDonald, especially since he wrote many of their hit songs after replacing Tom Johnston in 1977. He went on first, kicking off his segment with "You Belong to Me," which he co-wrote with Carly Simon (and which, of course, became a hit for her as well).
 
Later the ensemble moved into "It Keeps You Running," although with more of a shuffle groove than the reggae-tinged original recording. A pleasant surprise was the spiritually encouraging "Yah Mo B There," originally recorded as a duet with James Ingram, although the ending was abrupt and clunky.
 
Having recorded on a couple of Motown tribute albums, Mr. McDonald also delivered spirited renditions of "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" and "Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing"; I was surprised, however, to hear the Stylistics' "Stop, Look, Listen (To Your Heart)" and Stevie Wonder's "Living for the City." I will say, however, that if you were trying to sing along with him, you couldn't have consistently done so because he used a lot of vocal tricks on most every song, usually behind the beat, which might be good for the inner artist but perhaps irritating for the casual fan -- maybe his throaty tenor has lost a little range in his just over 59 years.
 
Mr. Scaggs opened his set with the funky "Jojo," which stuck closely to the record (and I'm not sure that's a good thing) but almost immediately shifted the mood with the bluesy "Spare Change," on which he gave some tasty lead guitar and even more so on the Crescent City blowing song "Sick and Tired of Fooling Around." "Lowdown" was stretched out a bit, with second guitarist Drew Zingg aping Larry Carlton and pianist Michael Logan soloing immediately afterward. Perhaps as a concession to age, the 67-year-old Mr. Scaggs dropped the keys of "Miss Sun" and "What Can I Say?" a step.
 
The two headliners did a segment together at the end, beginning with the worshipful "Hallelujah" moving to, among others, the Joe Simon classic "Drowning in a Sea of Love" and climaxing with the Doobies' roaring "Takin' It to the Streets." Mr. McDonald even brought an accordion for yet another New Orleans number, "You Never Can Tell."
 
I can't say enough about the band, which backed up both artists and was solid, tight and didn't miss a single note. The two backup singers, Ms. Monet and Drea Rhenee, could have carried the show in their own right, with Ms. Monet doing a call-and-response with Mr. Scaggs on "Miss Sun" and being featured in her own right on the gospel-tinged "Something to Talk about"; meanwhile, Ms. Rhenee was "preaching" at the end of "Takin' It to the Streets."

 

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