The Doobie Brothers at the Forum, Los Angeles

Legendary rock band the Doobie Brothers played the KIA Forum on Sunday night and it was their first time at that venue in three years. For the first half of the tour, blues legend Robert Cray opened the show, and the second half will see Steve Winwood take over. 

Back in 2019, to celebrate the Doobie Brothers' 50th Anniversary, the group announced a tour with Michael McDonald to take place in 2020 which had been postponed a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 2020 also happened to be the year that the Doobie Brothers were finally inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame along with McDonald.

Before the pandemic, they had most recently played the KIA Forum in 2018 with Steely Dan and in 2017 with Chicago. The Doobie Brothers also played Classic West at Dodger Stadium in 2017. The Doobie Brothers have gone through a number of lineup changes over their 50 year history but have always included founding members Tom Johnston (Guitar/Vocals) and Pat Simmons (Guitar/Vocals).

From 1971 to 2016, there had always been two drummers in the group, but in 2016 Ed Toth, who joined in 2005 (Vertical Horizon), became the sole drummer and in 2018, former Allman Brothers percussionist Marc Quinones joined the group.

In the past decade, there was another lineup change when Guy Allison, the group’s keyboardist of nearly 20 years, left the group and former Little Feat. Keyboardist Bill Payne joined from 2015-2021. The Doobie Brothers also include John McFee (guitar/violin/harmonica), who was a member from 1979-1982 and joined again in 1993. 

Bassist John Cowan was a member from 1993-1995 and then again starting in 2010. Since 1998, Marc Russo has been the sax player. McDonald joined in 1975 and in the seven years he was a member until the band split up. In that time the group released four of their biggest selling albums. McDonald had a majorly successful solo career following the end of the group and has appeared with the Doobie Brothers on and off since they reformed in 1987, and this is the longest tour he's had with Johnston and Simmons in around 40 years.  

The Doobie Brothers played a set of 19 songs, full of hits. The Doobie Brothers had over 30 charting singles. A Doobie Brothers show is all about the music and no special effects or guests. The set was all Doobie Brothers songs rather than including songs from McDonald's highly successful solo career. The last time they played the KIA Forum, it took place just a week after the release of their first album in seven years Liberte, but it was their first release with McDonald since One Step Closer (1980) with the exception of Southbound in 2014 which was a duets album of the group’s classics. 

The opening song was “Take Me In Your Arms (Rock Me a Little While).” Other hits included “It Keeps You Runnin’,” “Minute By Minute,” and “Jesus Is Just Alright." McDonald wad featured on songs "Minute By Minute," "What a Fool Believes," and "Takin' It to the Streets." I would call the last seven songs the sing-a-long portion of the show since they spaced out some hits earlier.

Three of those songs made up the encore. McFee delivered an outstanding harmonica solo for “Long Train Runnin’” and also included a drum/percussion solo from Toth and Quinones. Throughout the show, McFee played several instruments including guitar, pedal steel guitar, harmonica, and for “”Black Water” played the fiddle. McDonald played both keyboard and organ. The second to last song of the encore was “Takin’ It to the Streets,” which started with an extended saxophone and keyboard intro between McDonald and Russo. The final song of the evening was a song that can always make people happy, "Listen to the Music.”