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.
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.
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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MARC COHN PHOTO GALLERY
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