Live Review: McDonald and Scaggs Unite Timeless Voices

Published on July 26th, 2011

July 19, 2011 – Imagine the husky, soulful Michael McDonald crooning right next to a clean-as-honey Boz Scaggs. The union of two voices like no other, distinct and captivating. But you could check your imagination at the door at Baltimore’s Pier Six Pavilion on Tuesday night. The two greats joined forces for a night of music that included a formidable amount of its from each journeyman’s catalog, along with inspired soul jams that left the crowd begging for more. It’s as if time stood still for both men, now aged into their 60s, but still crooning for a new generation.

In the 1970s, Boz Scaggs and Michael McDonald were on fire. Scaggs cranked out an impressive body of studio work with help from the musical prodigies in Toto as McDonald crafted hit after hit with the Doobie Brothers. But despite their associations with those bands, it was an independent spirit that drove them on to even bigger musical heights in their solo careers.

Scaggs left the stage for a decade in the late ’70s only to return in 1988, and he hasn’t left it since. McDonald hasn’t left the stage much at all – whether performing on his own or as a special guest with his old brothers Doobie. And they’ve performed together before, too. Just last year, Scaggs, McDonald, and Steely Dan’s Donald Fagen joined together for a tour that was so packed full of eclectic, soulful rock that it’s a wonder Daryl Hall didn’t stop by.

From the sounds of it though, just these two are more than enough to behold.

Boz began his share of the set with “What Can I Say”, an up-tempo crowd pleaser that gave reassurance that his absolutely cool yet inexplicably frog-like voice is still intact. He’s relaxed on stage, yet there’s a definite intensity and excitement in his eyes as he shuffles to the big beat of those bluesy songs. “Some Change”, from 1994′s album of the same name, was introduced as a song about “a different kind of change than people think of now”. An allusion to the inner-politics of Boz? Perhaps.

It was a high standard that Mr. Scaggs had to live up to, in the form of an hour long set from McDonald. He started and ended with the high points of his career with the Doobies, and sprinkled solo hits and cover songs in to fill the middle. Both singers were on stage for an hour on their own, before coming together for an encore that included their renditions of old blue-eyed soul tunes.

They may take flack for being mellow ’70s smooth rockers, but their brand of mellow has never sounded so fresh.


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  1. Posted by MrMikie on July 31st, 2011, 21:26 [Reply]

    Was lucky enough to see the Boy’s of September Tour and Boz and Mike McDonald were outstanding. As was Donald Fegan. What a dream lineup. They covered many songs from each artist’s catalog of hits and complimented each other extremely well. Would love to see this show happen again!


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