Doobies deliver the goods but can’t pull a big crowd in Vancouver

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ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, JUNE 13, 1991

Only 4,000 fans showed up for the Doobie Brothers show last Friday. That’s not a particularly impressive turnout for any Coliseum act, least of all one that’s sold as many albums as the Doobies. Maybe the general consensus is that the Doobies aren’t hip—or even relevant—any more. I dunno. Call me square, but whenever I get the opportunity to bask in the good-time sounds of “Black Water” and “Listen to the Music”, I go for it.

I’m a sucker for the ’70s.

Travelling back in time to deliver choice cuts from albums like Toulouse Street, The Captain and Me, and What Were Once Vices Are Now Habits—and mixing them in with tunes from the new Brotherhood release—the Doobs put on a solid, if unspectacular, show. They don’t have a massive stage show, and the band members aren’t overly active, but they still deliver the musical goods.

The group’s strongest assets are still the sweet vocal harmonies of Tom Johnston and Patrick Simmons, the funky fretwork of bassist Tiran Porter, and the unstoppable double drumwork of John Hartman and Michael Hossack.

Fleshed out by two spot-on keyboardist/vocalists, the band cooked through a lengthy set, and even got the laid-back crowd singing along on the encore of “Listen to the Music”.

Opening act the Fabulous Thunderbirds tried their best to warm things up for the headliner, but—more than most bands—these road-house blues-rockers are out of place in a big arena. Catchy tunes like “Wrap It Up” and “Tuff Enuff” had some spark, but a long, drawn-out version of Muddy Waters’ “Hoochie Coochie Man” grew tedious.

I’m not a great fan of Kim Wilson’s lackadaisical singing style, either. But the guitar team of Duke Robillard and Kid Bangham did a commendable job of handling the chores left by the band’s former axeman, Jimmy Vaughan.

’Course it took two guys to cover for him.

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