The Doobie Brothers: Live in Oklahoma!

The Doobie Brothers
First Council Casino
Newkirk, Oklahoma
February 16, 2013

By Jeb Wright

Set List:
Jesus is Just Alright | Dangerous | Rockin’ Down the Highway | Take Me in Your Arms (Rock Me) | Clear as the Driven Snow | A Brighter Day | World Gone Crazy | The Chateau | Slat Key Soquel Rag | South City Midnight Lady | Takin’ It to the Streets | Don’t Start Me Talkin’ | Little Bitty Pretty One | Black Water | Long Train Runnin’

China Grove | Without You | Listen to the Music

The Doobie Brothers of 2013 feature original members Tom Johnston, on vocals and guitar and Pat Simmons, on vocals and guitar.  Joining them is long time member and multi-instrumentalist John McFee.  The rest of the band are rounded out by keyboardist Guy Allison, John Cowan on bass, Tony Pia on drums, Marc Russo on saxophone and Ed Toth on drums. 

While the band is basically made up of two and a half original men (I give McFee a half a point even though  he didn’t join until 1979…he’s been around a LONG time), the rest of the group have that ever loving, happy go lucky Doobie spirit. 

On this night, the band was on fire.  They didn’t really do anything new with the set list, that they have not been doing, and they were not overwhelmed by a huge crowd, or overly excited to be in Newkirk, Oklahoma instead of, say, Madison Square Garden, but that didn’t stop them from playing one hell of a show.  There was a lot of spontaneous extra jamming during the songs and there were tons of smiles between band members.  Everyone was enjoying themselves and they simply did what they do, which is put on one hell of a feel good rock and roll show.

Starting out with “Jesus is Just Alright” the Doobie’s got the crowd of forty and fifty something’s (ah hell there were plenty of sixty something’s too) swaying in their seats and singing along from the get go.  Next up was the tune “Dangerous” from 1991’s Brotherhood album.  The band, then trotted out two of their most known songs, “Rockin’ Down the Highway” and “Take Me in your Arms (Rock Me)” before playing one of the best album cuts in the band’s history.  “Clear as the Driven Snow” has that groove, those lyrics and that sway that is just classic Doobie’s.  The end of the tune was rocked up by a blistering guitar solo by Tom Johnston, bringing loud applause.

The band then took fifteen minutes to perform three of the best tracks from their latest studio effort, 2010’s World Gone Crazy.  After playing the Jamaican rhythmic happy-mon tune “Brighter Day” and the title track, the band played a song inspired by one of the biker bars they started out in many decades ago titled “The Chateau.”  This is the best studio tune the Doobs have cranked out since their heyday.  McFee was a slide guitar monster on the tune, as both band and crowd were full of energy and digging on the musical vibe being presented before them, the casino event center being momentarily transformed into that biker bar in the California hills. 

Next, Simmons and McFee took center stage with two acoustic guitars and performed the bluegrassy instrumental “Slat Key Soquel Rag” before segueing into “South City Midnight Lady.”  This proved to be a favorite among the Okies in tow for the for the evening, as many older rock fans were driven to their feet at the end of the tune. 

The only Michael McDonald tune of the evening came next, as Pat Simmons and bass player John Cowan shared the vocals.  Simmons, actually did the verses very well, surprising the crowd with his baritone skills.  Cowan, an animated musician, had fun with the chorus.  This one was the high point of the show to this point, as far as the crowd was concerned. Newkirk, Oklahoma was signing along and dancing to the pop classic, from start to finish.

The band then decided to play a couple of blues tunes, the first, a Sony Boy Williamson cover titled “Don’t Start Me Talkin’” and the latter the Bobby Day tune “Little Bitty Pretty One.”  The songs featured some great soloing by Johnston and McFee on guitars and some very tasty playing by keyboardist Guy Allison and saxophonist Marc Russo.  Allison and Russo tore it up all evening, with the sax solos being some of the most powerful of the entire set. 

Once the ode to the oldies was completed, the band ended the main set with “Black Water,” which, of course, featured a sing-a-long with the crowd, and “Long Train Runnin’,” the tune that put the band on the map in the first place.  The end of the main set earned the band a much deserved standing ovation.

The band returned and played three classic tunes beginning with “China Grove.”  This tune is just pure California rock, if you are not dancing along to that guitar riff, then you are not a true rock and roller! Next was “Without You,” one of the band’s hardest rocking tunes.  The last song of the night began with a famous guitar and bass line and had everyone singing. “Listen to the Music” took it down the homestretch, earning the band more loud and appreciative applause.

The Doobie Brothers are still performing well, writing new songs that are every bit as good as their classics and they seem to be enjoying the opportunity to share their music with their fans.  As Pat Simmons said at the start of the show, “We keep coming back because you keep coming back.”  Their dedication to their craft, and their ability to still perform with such energy and warmth is impressive, making them one of the best classic rock bands on the road today. 

Check out the band's tour dates here: