Five-time Grammy winner Michael McDonald brought his Season of Peace Holiday & Hits tour to the Capitol Theatre in Clearwater this Thanksgiving weekend. The first of only two stops in Florida, the tour is early in its season. One of the most talented artists of our time, McDonald started his career in the early 70’s with Steely Dan and became a voice of the Doobie Brothers until 1982.
He went solo with a slew of hits which have become the soundtrack of generations when you look around at the mix of people in his audience. He has written for and collaborated with many other artists including Kenny Loggins, Bonnie Raitt, David Cassidy and Aretha Franklin. His Motown tribute albums garnered Grammy nominations and huge critical raves. He is a guest vocalist on Barbra Streisand’s current new album, “Walls”.
Opening the show with “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” and “Winter Wonderland” among other Christmas songs on the setlist. McDonald played a suspicious look alike Jake Shimabukuro ukulele, who happens to have a guest appearance on the new Christmas album, “Seasons of Peace”. McDonald then took to his usual place at the piano for the rest of the show. His band is a well-oiled machine having worked with him for years, Bernie Chiaravalle on lead guitar also has a solo album out called “Dreamer”, Dan Needham on drums, Pat Coil on the Hammond B3 and keyboards, Jacob Lowery on bass, Drea Rhenee is a powerhouse on backing vocals and duet partner on that huge Bacharach/Sagar 1986 hit “On My Own” that McDonald had with Patti LaBelle. Finishing out the band was guest saxophonist Eric Crystal who has played with the Boz Scaggs touring band since 2002 and McDonald said “we are lucky to get him to play with us once in awhile”.
Michael also played songs from his latest album release from 2017, “Wide Open” including “Just Strong Enough” an intense love song that on the recorded version has Warren Haynes from “Gov’t Mule” on guitar. On stage, McDonald played this solo, drawing the audience into silence and it was amazing! Another highlight was from the new “Season of Peace: The Christmas Collection”, “Children Go Where I Send Thee” which turned into a full jam complete with choir! A collection of eclectic and time-honored classic holiday tunes, the album cover is from a painting of McDonald’s artwork.
Of course, the audience was patiently waiting for the hits part of the show and McDonald didn’t disappoint. Most of his solo work including “Ya Mo Be There”, “Sweet Freedom” and his solo debut in 1982 which climbed to #4 on Billboard, “I Keep Forgettin” (Every Time You’re Near). Michael’s voice is still in great form in both his falsetto and lower register, soul simply oozes out of his mouth. Time traveling back to the 70’s and his heyday with the Doobie Brothers, “What A Fool Believes” gets the crowd out of their seats.
This is a great holiday show with both Christmas songs that are beloved and familiar with some new songs and arrangements. The hits that will touch your soul & memory and rock you with one of the unforgettable voices of our time!
Photos courtesy of Vicky Sullivan / The Sarasota Post