Gig Review: Steve Miller Band and The Doobie Brothers Treat Los Angeles to a Memorable Classic Rock Show

As part of KLOS’ summer concert series at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles, which kicked off with the recently reviewed Pat Benatar/Cheap Trick show, Steve Miller Band and the Doobie Brothers landed at the same venue June 20 for what promised to be another great classic exhibition of some of the most beloved songs in American rock.

At 7:30 p.m. sharp, the Doobie Brothers, a seven-piece lineup at their core, hit the stage and began the evening’s proceedings.

Getting to the venue earlier than the show’s scheduled start time, waiting for the opening band to start and then seeing their entire set in daylight is one of the anti-climactic aspects of an LA summer, and it’s always a strange feeling. But as the chill in the air got stronger and the band got into their groove, the show became largely enjoyable.

The Doobies brought their vast repertoire and musicianship to the stage; it almost felt like a music factory up there with all those instruments. Aside from the three guitars, bass and two drummers, several songs employed saxophone, and on a few occasions there was a pedal steel guitar, a violin, mouthorgan, a female backing vocalist and, of course, acoustic guitars. This made for a truly rocking set that hit its peak at about the half-way mark.

Each instrumentalist got his moment in the spotlight with plenty of solos and extended jams dispersed throughout the set. But to top it off, the Doobies showed off the amazing vocals of Tom Johnston, Patrick Simmons and John Cowan. Overall, it was a fantastic set by the Doobies. It’s no wonder they always have been rockin’ down the highway — and probably will keep doing so for a while.

Set List:

  • 01. Jesus Is Just Alright (Art Reynolds Singers cover)
  • 02. Rockin' Down the Highway
  • 03. Take Me in Your Arms (Rock Me a Little While) (Kim Weston cover)
  • 04. Depending on You
  • 05. World Gone Crazy
  • 06. Slat Key Soquel Rag
  • 07. South City Midnight Lady
  • 08. Eyes of Silver
  • 09. Takin' It to the Streets
  • 10. Don't Start Me Talkin' (Sonny Boy Williamson cover)
  • 11. Black Water
  • 12. Long Train Runnin'

13. China Grove
14. Listen to the Music

A giant curtain with The Joker album cover engulfed the stage during the 30-minute intermission from 8:45 to 9:15 p.m. Once the curtain fell, Steve Miller Band’s stage setup was revealed, making for a stark contrast from the Doobies' setup.
The band’s setup was basic, but the stage was colorful and was enhanced by a great light show during the performance.

The crowd’s excitement level was at its highest as Steve Miller showed off his guitar chops and still-powerful vocals. The real energetic force in the band, though, was backing (and at times lead) singer Sonny Charles, who delighted the crowd with his soulful voice and entertaining dance moves. He really looked like he was enjoying himself up there. The rest of the band did a great job as well, especially keyboard player Joseph Wooten. Fans loved every minute of it.

There were some hilarious moments induced by Miller’s interaction with the crowd between songs, and when he called on his personal banker to play pedal steel guitar on one song. The man's corporate look had the audience in splits, even though he did just fine on his instrument. Miller’s three solo acoustic tunes in the middle of the set were highlights.

Miller was celebrating the 40th anniversary of The Joker, and the set included five songs from the album. The evening fittingly came to an end with the title track from that record, as Miller said farewell until next time and thanked the crowd. I honestly thought the Doobies were the more "rocking" band, but Miller’s musicianship was incredible, and his band was the worthy headliner.

The best thing about classic rock shows like this is that every song is a hit, and even though it must get tiring for these musicians to keep playing these tunes over and over, they do a mighty fine job at it.

Set List:

01. Jungle Love
02. Take the Money and Run
03. The Stake
04. Abracadabra
05. Further on Up the Road (Bobby "Blue" Bland cover)
06. Ooh Poo Pah Doo (Jessie Hill cover)
07. Mary Lou
08. Sugar Babe
09. Something to Believe In
10. Shu Ba Da Du Ma Ma Ma Ma
11. Wild Mountain Honey (Steve Miller solo, acoustic)
12. Gangster of Love (Steve Miller solo, acoustic)
13. Dance Dance Dance (Steve Miller solo, acoustic)
14. Space Intro
15. Fly Like An Eagle
16. Jet Airliner
17. Rock'n Me

18. Serenade
19. Space Cowboy
20. The Joker

Andrew Bansal is a writer who has been running his own website, Metal Assault, since early 2010, and has been prolific in covering the hard rock and heavy metal scene by posting interviews, news, reviews and pictures on his website — with the help of a small group of people. He briefly moved away from the Los Angeles scene and explored metal in India, but he is now back in LA continuing from where he left off.

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