Like their Californian contemporaries The Eagles and New York counterparts Steely Dan, The Doobie Brothers were one of the benchmark bands to emerge from the US roots rock scene of the 1970s, well versed in tradition but keen to blur sonic boundaries. More than 40 years on, they are still led by original members Tom Johnston and Patrick Simmons, and still producing new music. But the bulk of this set favoured their early to mid-70s heyday when their blend of blues, rock, soul and country formed a carefree summer soundtrack.
The Doobie Brothers, Academy, Glasgow ***
At times they came across as a hoary blues iteration of the hippy harmony groups, where the forensic riffing was as important as the vocal blend. But their opening gospel gambit Jesus is Just Alright was powered by such a compelling groove from bassist John Cowan that the crowd were on board immediately.
There was an unexpectedly punchy energy in the harmony singing; less unexpectedly from Johnston’s propulsive rhythm guitar playing on Road Angel. Simmons, meanwhile, showed off his fleet fingerstyle skills on chiming acoustic duet Slack Key Soquel Rag and fiddler John McFee injected some bluegrass exuberance to Spirit before moving seamlessly to pedal steel for the country ballad South City Midnight Lady.
Mindful of their audience, saxophonist Mark Russo referenced Average White Band’s Pick up the Pieces and Clear as the Driven Snow, a folk rocker with prog overtones, was deemed “Scottish-inspired”. But it was the global hits Takin’ it to the Streets, Long Train Runnin’ and Listen to the Music that really galvanised the uplifting mood.