Michael McDonald and Marc Cohn:  An Evening of Musical Masters
Photo Credit To ©Jim Chapin, All Rights Reserved
Michael McDonald and Marc Cohn:  An Evening of Musical Masters

Michael McDonald and Marc Cohn: An Evening of Musical Masters

Michael McDonald and Marc Cohn at ACL Live at the Moody Theater, Austin, TX, November 6, 2017
Review by Heather Forrester
Photography by Jim Chapin

Michael McDonald has been creating music for a long time. The former Steely Dan vocalist and lead singer of 70’s soft-rock favorite The Doobie Brothers has managed to find great success in the music industry while keeping company with equally talented backup singers and musicians. His wife of over thirty years, Amy Holland, is one of his accompanying singers.

Michael McDonald at ACL Live 11/6/2017. © 2017 Jim Chapin Photography

McDonald and his musician friends and family took to the stage of ACL Live at the Moody Theater in Austin, TX on Monday night. The silver-haired singer started off at his grand piano, while the remaining seven members of his band filled the rest of the stage.

McDonald kicked off his crowd-pleasing set with “Ya Mo Be There” and “Here To Love You” before introducing his Grammy-nominated hit “I Keep Forgettin’ (Every Time You’re Near)” to screams and cheers. Next, a single from his latest album, Wide Open called “Just Strong Enough” was introduced by explaining that he had written it with an old Nashville songwriter and friend. By the time he rolled out “Sweet Freedom” the crowd was dancing and clapping with their hands in the air until the veteran singer slowed things down the with Patti LaBelle cover “On My Own”. The change of pace allowed fans to return to their seats, with a few people left in the aisles, swaying back and forth in a slow-dance embrace with eyes closed as McDonald’s smooth, piercing voice resonated across the award-winning theater.

McDonald left his piano, headed to center-stage, and strapping on his guitar, he quipped “Thank you” in response to cheers at his instrument change. “I couldn’t come to Texas without pulling out my guitar”. The singer fondly recalled meeting his wife Amy as a teenager before asking her to join him on vocals for “Hail Mary”. He next told the story of musical colleague Chuck Sabatino, who passed away in 1996 and dedicated “Beautiful Child” to him.

Marc Cohn at ACL Live 11/6/2017. © 2017 Jim Chapin Photography

McDonald closed his set with his Doobie Brothers hit “Minute By Minute” and “What A Fool Believes”. And with that, the singer bid adieu to the three-story venue with a call for peace, before leaving to lowered house lights and a thunderous applause.

McDonald and his band returned for an encore and they brought company. Opening act Marc Cohn was called to come back out. Cohn pleased the crowd at the beginning of the night with his own set of hits and quips, including his smash single “Walking In Memphis”. The audience was more than happy to be getting bonus Cohn minutes as evidenced by the deafening applause and cheers.

The duo covered two songs, “The Letter” and “Into the Mystic” before McDonald introduced another surprise guest, Austin-based musical legend Christopher Cross. A few audience members rushed back to their seats as soon as they saw Cross heading to the mic. By the time the night ended, all three musical masters, along with the backup singers and musicians, had everyone dancing in the aisles and on the stairs to the hit “Takin’ It To the Streets”. It was a night of full musical gusto that would live on in memory like the legend McDonald has become.


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MICHAEL MCDONALD SET LIST: Ya Mo Be There, Here To Love You, I Keep Forgettin’ (Every Time You’re Near), Find It In Your Heart, Just Strong Enough, Sweet Freedom, On My Own (Patti LaBelle cover), Hail Mary, Beautiful Child, Half Truth, Minute By Minute (Doobie Brothers song), What A Fool Believes (Kenny Loggins cover) Encore: The Letter (The Box Tops cover), Into the Mystic (Van Morrison cover), Ride Like the Wind (Christopher Cross cover), Takin’ It To the Streets (Doobie Brothers song)


MARC COHN SET LIST: From the Station, Dig Down Deep, Perfect Love, Paper Walls, Silver Thunderbird, True Companion, Walking in Memphis Encore: One Safe Place / Wildflowers

Heather Forrester
Heather grew up as a young girl watching big name country music artists of the 1980s play concerts at the local Civic Center in the small Texas town she lived in with her grandmother. This jump started her love of live bands. She would later discover rock, hip hop and other genres as a kid who obsessively watched MTV and VH1 into her teenage years during the golden era of music videos. In addition to watching bands Heather loves to travel around the globe, read books, sample the latest craft beers, watch films, attend festivals of all shapes and sizes, spend time in nature hiking and camping, and going thrift store and flea market treasure hunting.
Jim Chapin
Freelance Live Music, Editorial & Event Photographer, Writer and Graphic Artist currently living it up in Austin, Texas - Live Music Capital of the World!
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